No era in American history has been more fascinating to Americans, or more critical to the ultimate destiny of the United States, than the colonial era. Between the time that the first European settlers established a colony at Jamestown in 1607 through the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the outlines of America's distinctive political culture, economic system, social life, and cultural patterns had begun to emerge. Designed to complement the high school American history curriculum as well as undergraduate survey courses, "Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History" captures it all: the people, institutions, ideas, and events of the first three hundred years of American history. While it focuses on the thirteen British colonies stretching along the Atlantic, Colonial America sets this history in its larger contexts. Entries also cover Canada, the American Southwest and Mexico, and the Caribbean and Atlantic world directly impacting the history of the thirteen colonies. This encyclopedia explores the complete early history of what would become the United States, including portraits of Native American life in the immediate pre-contact period, early Spanish exploration, and the first settlements by Spanish, French, Dutch, Swedish, and English colonists. This monumental five-volume set brings America's colonial heritage vibrantly to life for today's readers. It includes: thematic essays on major issues and topics; detailed A-Z entries on hundreds of people, institutions, events, and ideas; thematic and regional chronologies; hundreds of illustrations; primary documents; and a glossary and multiple indexes.