ABC-CLIO/Greenwood - Reference

Shaping North America

From Exploration to the American Revolution

by James E. Seelye Jr. and Shawn Selby, Editors


Shaping the "New World" in the 16th century involved much more than the creation of the 13 original British colonies in North America; Spain, France, and the Netherlands also played a key role in laying the foundations of the disparate societies that would become the United States.

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Cover image for Shaping North America

August 2018


Pages 1104
Volumes 3
Size 7x10
Topics American History/General
  Race and Ethnicity/General

This fascinating multivolume set provides a unique resource for learning about early American history, including thematic essays, topical entries, and an invaluable collection of primary source documents.

In 1783, just months after the United States achieved independence from Great Britain, General George Washington was compelled to convince his officers not to undertake a military coup of the Congress of Confederation. Had the planned mutinous coup of the Newburgh Conspiracy gone forward, the American experiment may have ended before it even began.

The pre-colonial and colonial periods of early American history are filled with accounts of key events that established the course of our nation's development. This expansive three-volume set provides entries on a wide variety of topics and themes in early American history to elucidate how the United States came to be. Written in straightforward language, the encyclopedic entries on social, political, cultural, and military subjects from the pre-Columbian period through the creation of the Constitution (roughly 1400–1790) will be useful for anyone wishing to deeply investigate the who, what, where, when, and why of early America.

Additionally, the breadth of primary documents—including personal diaries, letters, poems, images, treaties, and other legal documents—provides readers with firsthand sources written by the men and women who shaped American history, both the famous and the less well known. Each of the three volumes also presents thematic essays on highlighted topics to fully place the individual entries within their proper historical context and heighten readers' comprehension.


  • Provides readers with an easy-to-use collection of primary sources in virtually all areas of early American history
  • Offers encyclopedic coverage of both specific topics and broader concepts or themes in early American history
  • Collects a wide range of materials, both primary and tertiary, into a single multivolume resource set
  • Presents information in a concise, accessible tone and in a format that is easy for students to navigate
Author Info

James E. Seelye, PhD, is assistant professor of history at Kent State University at Stark. He is coeditor of two previous titles with ABC-CLIO: Voices of the American Indian Experience and the American Indian volume of The Great American Mosaic: An Exploration of Diversity in Primary Documents.

Shawn Selby, PhD, is adjunct professor of history at Kent State University at Stark, where he has received the Teaching Award of Recognition. He has also published a number of articles on American history.



"The signed entries discuss events, people, social conditions, and institutions (slavery, the Sons of Liberty, the Declaration of Independence) in sufficient detail for undergraduate majors and nonmajors to begin research on a variety of topics. . . . Highly recommended for undergraduate and general adult audiences."Library Journal

"The breadth of primary documents is truly amazing, including items such as personal diaries, letters, poems, images, treaties, and other legal documents. The importance of including documents written by some of the men and women who shaped American history can never be overstated as these documents allow the reader directly into the hearts and minds of the individuals who created them. Shaping North America is truly a resource that will bring value to any libraries' collection in this area of history."ARBA

"The strongest essays take on topics that might not be reflected in a traditional historical encyclopedia, addressing culture, commodities, and lesser-known individuals. . . Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates."Choice

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Founding Documents of America cover imageDaily Life in the Colonial South cover imageDaily Life in the Colonial City cover image
Daily Life in Colonial New England, 2nd Edition cover imageWomen in American History cover imageHistoric Sites and Landmarks That Shaped America cover image

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