Cultural Values of Europeans

America was discovered accidentally by a great seaman Christopher Columbus and he was the first one who brought some elements of the European culture to that land.


Toward the close of the fifteenth century the wings of discovery began to brush very close to the shores of America. Portuguese sailors looking for fables of Antilia may have come within a day's sail of Newfoundland. Doubtless the New World would eventually have been discovered as man became more venturesome. But this does not distract from the glory of Columbus, whose discovery really opened America to Europe.


On October 12, 1492 at 2 a.m. a lookout on one of Columbus' ships sighted in the moonlight a limestone cliff on what turned out to be an island of Bahamas. Columbus named it 'San Salvador', and it is called so today. San Salvador was an outpost of "the Indies", so he called the natives Indians.


Columbus was disappointed at finding no spices of the orient, such as cloves and cinnamon, but he noted maize and cassava, native cotton, dugout canoes, and the hammock, which European navies soon adopted for their seamen.


Columbus' voyage to America was followed by several expeditions from England, Portugal, and France. Gradually a significant part of North America and almost all the territory of South America was colonized by European countries.


In 1620 Plymouth colony was founded by the Mayflower Pilgrims who brought Puritanism in one of its purest forms to America. But New Plymouth would long have remained a poor and isolated colony, and fishing station, but for the great Puritan motion of the 1630's.


Puritanism was essentially and primarily a religious movement. In the broadest sense Puritanism was a passion for righteousness, the desire to know and do God's will. Puritanism was responsible for the settlement of the New England; and as the Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Unitarian, Quakers, and other Protestant sects of the United States are offshoots of the seventeenth century English and Scottish Puritanism, it is not surprising that Puritan ways of thinking and doing have had a vast effect on the American mind and character.


Puritans had a definite mission — to establish community rather than a mere colony where they could put their ideals into practice. But for several years the main business of Puritan settlements such as Plymouth and Bay Colonies was raising cattle, corn and other foodstuffs to sell to newcomers who came supplied with money and goods.


Although the Puritans objected to the prevailing religious and social customs of their mother country, they were none the less loyal Englishmen, determined to embrace and perpetuate both English liberties and English culture. Puritanism was a cutting edge, which renewed liberty democracy, humanitari-anism and universal education out of the black forest of feudal Europe and the Americans wilderness. Puritan doctrine taught each person to consider himself significant.


Nevertheless, not only English settlers inhabited the American territory. New Netherlands, the Dutch colony, which at one time comprised the entire Hudson Valley and the shores of Delaware Bay and Long Island, stems from the voyage of Henry Hudson, an Englishmen in Dutch employ. The United Provinces of Netherlands, having lately won their independence from Spain, were powerful and enterprising The Dutch West India Company has planted a strong colony, a real challenge to New France and New England. The Dutch at first got along well with their English neighbors and even taught them to use wampum, the Algonquian shell money, for trading with the natives.


Just as the founding of Jamestown in 1607 is a turning point in the history of Anglo-America, so is the year 1608, when a trading post in Quebec was set up. It is a milestone in the history of New France. Samuel de Champlain the founder of New France discovered that the St. Lawrence River was a fulcrum of power politics between the Five Nations of the Iroquois, and the Hurons, the Montagnais and other Indian tribes. He tried to secure for these neighboring Indians a firm mastery of the great river by helping them to fight Iroquois who were famous for long-distance forays and surprise attacks on Indian villages, followed by savage scalping and the torture of prisoners.


These events indicate that the cross-cultural interaction between the European people and native inhabitants and also between the representatives of the European countries themselves was inevitable.