Published Date

January 1, 2014

Resource Type

AHA Resource, For the Classroom


Asian American and Pacific Islander, Economic, Environmental, Indigenous, Migration, Immigration, & Diaspora, Teaching Methods

AHA Topics

Teaching & Learning, Undergraduate Education


Asia, Latin America/Caribbean, Oceania, United States, World

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Globalizing the US History Survey project


By Allison Frickert-Murashige

Chronological Approaches


  • Kelp Highway hypothesis (Jon Erlandson), which complicates the Berengia thesis

European Exploration

  • Asian voyages (Zheng He)
  • Asia-Pacific trade that provides the context for European exploration
  • Indigenous histories on the Pacific Coast, Hawaii, etc.

Colonial Era (pre-Seven Years War)

  • Role of the Manila Galleon trade connecting the Americas to Asia 1565 for 250 years. This is really when globalization began to happen.
  • Globally connected Mexican provinces, secularization of missions
  • Triangle trade:
    • From San Diego/San Francisco to Hawaii (for sandalwood)
    • From San Diego/San Francisco to Canton (for Chinese products)
  • Atlantic world connection into American slave trade in the Spanish Empire
  • Russian expansion into North America

Post- Seven Years War Colonial era and Revolutionary War

  • Role of the (Pacific) China trade in the British Empire (and American interest)
  • European trade networks in Oceania and Asia

Nation Building

  • Establishing the China trade and conceptions of national identity
  • West coast immigration ad expansion under the Spanish Empire
  • Role of West Coast access and China trade in Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • Monroe Doctrine and the Pacific
  • Oregon dispute

Western Expansion and the Pacific

  • Whaling and industrialization connecting East and West Coasts
  • Hudson Bay Company
  • Role of Chilean guano in American industrialization, military expansion, and commercial West-Coast agriculture
  • Continentalism /Manifest Destiny and the Pacific World
  • 1830s and 40s naval expeditions and growing conceptions of the importance of the Pacific for commercial and strategic interests
  • Hawaii as a pivotal Pacific commercial and strategic port
  • Competition for Hawaii between powers
  • Missionary impulse and tie to Manifest Destiny
  • Missionaries as a first wave to soften zone for free trade capitalism
  • Mexican-American War
  • Railroad, specifically as a conduit to China trade
  • Two competing Pacific-named companies
  • Influx of Chinese labor for the railroad and agricultural trade
  • Empire building from the Pacific perspective: Kamehameha’s strategies
  • US plans for Japanese expedition
  • Japanese views of Perry

Thematic Approach

  • Trade connections and commodities
  • Migration and immigration
  • Religion
  • Maps and other visual conceptions of the US in the world rather than nation-state history
  • Environment and natural resource consumption
  • Borderlands and identity formations
  • Overlapping timelines and geographies, complicating a chronological approach
  • Maritime history
  • Multiple perspectives (ex: Aleut hunters)
  • Cross-cultural relations between indigenous people of the Asia Pacific region and residents of the Atlantic world
  • Identity formation in the Pacific world
    • Native Hawaiian Studies
    • Native American Studies
    • Pacific Islander Studies
  • Explorers
    • Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast
    • Charles Wilkes (1838-1842): Federally financed by US, circumnavigated the globe from the Pacific.
    • Commodore Jones, head of Pacific fleet, who took Monterey in 1842
    • John Ledyard (American colonist), A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (1783)