At different moments between first contact and the present, what, if anything, did people living in
the (future) United States fear?
Did all people fear certain things, or just some?
Why did they
fear these things at these moments?
What caused any changes over time in the thing or things
people most feared?
Why might something have been feared during one period but not in
another, possibly just a few years removed?
Fear in America
From the first discovery of America to the modern days of the 21
have feared many things; things ranging from the first settlers and their struggles, slavery,
fighting for independence, and terrorist attacks. Each and every American has fears of their own,
and in different ways, overcome them. In this essay, I will start from the very beginning and end
at the present time now, and depict what fears invaded the lives of people living in the United
From the very beginning, 1492, when Columbus settled into what we call America today,
there were many struggles, challenges, and conflicts that turned into fear for the American
people. While the New World often witnessed tragic violence and systematic betrayal, it allowed
ordinary people of three different races and many different ethnic identities opportunities to
shape their own lives as best they could.
Africans and Native Americans feared European
, and did things the way their own culture did. The migrants of different races and
backgrounds both had fears of diseases such as tuberculosis, smallpox, and measles; smallpox
and measles being the deadliest.
When the Native Americans first came into contact with Europeans and Africans, they
had no defense against the great killers of the Early Modern world.
They also had to adjust
economically. Food, Climate, and culture were considered their environmental challenge. They
1 Robert A. Divine,
The American Story
Penguin Academics, 2005), second
2 Divine, 2.
3 Divine, 3.
4 Divine, 3.