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Pioneers

Pioneers are people who try something new, applied especially to people relocating to a new frontier. Historical pictures showing the courage of pioneers have illustrated one of the great themes of North American history. The first colonists landing on the shores of a New World inspire our admiration. Each colony had its own opportunities and challenges: Canada and the rest of New France, Jamestown, Plymouth and the other New England colonies, New Netherland and New York, Pennsylvania Colony, New Jersey and New Sweden, colonial Maryland, Carolina colony/>, colonial Georgia, Spanish colonies in South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and Spanish colonial areas of the US, including Spanish Florida, Spanish California, and the Spanish colonial southwest. The Portuguese colony of Brazil completes most of the New World's colonial territories, seen in historical images.

As the Spanish missions grew into villages in Mexico, California, and the southwest, intrepid French traders and missionaries moved into the continent from their foothold in Canada. Historical pictures of these adventurers portray them learning new skills like canoeing and meeting Native Americans, who were themselves pioneers from Asia in the distant past.

Pioneer pathfinders kept pushing the frontier inland, as seen in historical illustrations, filling in the wilderness of the Appalachians and traveling down the Ohio River into the old Northwest Territory and the rich farmlands of the Mississippi Valley. In 1803 the Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the land area of the US, as seen in historical maps. The Lewis and Clark expedition, following the Missouri River north and westward, opened the new territory to yet more pioneers who crossed the Great Plains in covered wagons to settle the west. Historical pictures show that prospectors during the Gold Rush added to the flood of pioneers in California and other mining regions, including Alaska and the Klondyke region of the Canadian Yukon.

African slaves, brought to the Americas against their will by slave traders, needed strength and determination for sheer survival on plantations and in other places where slavery was in force. In the true pioneer spirit, some African-American slaves managed to escape from slavery, and many bravely returned to free others, or to work for abolition of slavery. After emancipation, historical pictures show some African-Americans migrated west to join other western pioneers of the post-Civil War period.

As vintage pictures illustrate, immigrants formed another group of pioneers. Arriving via Ellis Island and other east coast seaports were European immigrants who created ethnic neighborhoods in New York and other cities, or who continued on as Midwestern pioneers seeking farmland, as seen in historical images. Asian immigrants, usually arriving via San Francisco, helped build the transcontinental railroad and formed Chinatown districts in some west coast cities of the US and Canada.

The pioneer story includes Native Americans, whose way of life was forever changed by pioneer settlers. Historical pictures of precolumbian civilizations show great centers of culture in the Americas before Europeans arrived, including the Inca, the Aztec, Moundbuilders, Ancient Puebloan or Anasazi, Mimbres or Mogollon, and Hohokam people. After Columbus, historical pictures show European colonists and natives learned from each other, sometimes in conflict and sometimes in friendship. While all lives in North America were affected by the pioneers, Native Americans were particularly disrupted. Land where Indian villages once stood became farmland or new towns. Meanwhile, bison and other native animals were eliminated from former hunting grounds; and through a series of military conflicts between Native Americans and whites, the native people were displaced, dispersed, or removed to Indian reservations.


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