English Colonization In The New World

English Colonization In The New World

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Two of the major powers in Europe quickly took the lead in settling the New World. The first, Spain, was very interested in acquiring huge amounts of gold, silver, and other rare valuables. In fact, the only reason they stumbled upon America is because they were en route to the Far East in search of the "fabled wealth of the Indies." What they found turned out to be much more valuable than a shipload of gold. A new continent was discovered-- one with unbelievable potential. Spain was able to take great advantage of its new found wealth, but made some bad decisions that in the long run did not help to solidify their existence in America. The pursuit of riches was not the only motivation for the Spaniards to come to America, though. Some men wanted to create a "profitable agricultural economy" as well as spread the Christian religion.
The second, England, was not as intent of finding great cities of gold. At the time of the great discovery, England was in great turmoil over religion. Many people were persecuted because of their beliefs, and this generated much interest in finding a place where they could practice freedom of religion instead of always having to answer to the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.
Freedom from religion was not the largest problem existing in England at the time, though. Between the years 1485 and 1603 England's kingdom had flourished so that there was a population surplus. Employment as well as supplies became very difficult to find. Because of their belief in Mercantilism, though, England did not want to trade away its wealth in order to acquire supplies from other nations. They felt that money was finite and that if one country got rich that another nation would in effect become poor. Money equaled power. By trading away their money for supplies they were in essence giving up some of their power. What they needed was some new land on which they could produce the products needed by England and not have to deal with other countries. America was the answer.
Because Spain and England's motivations for settling America were different the geographic locations colonized by the two powers were also different. Spain originally hit upon the southern parts of what became North America, and stayed south. Led by gold fever, a man by the named of Cortes began an expedition into Mexico in 1518.

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He believed that somewhere hidden in Mexico lied great cities of golden treasure. What he did not look forward to encountering were the native of the land, the Aztecs. Upon their first encounter a battle broke out that was initially won by the tribal natives but ended up introducing the Aztecs to the most devastating of weapons-- biological warfare. The Indians were stricken with smallpox which weakened their forces just enough so that Spain was able to seize control of the native nation. To the Indians the Spanish became known as a "brutal" enemy.
Unlike the Spanish, England decided to settle up north. The first English settlement became known as Jamestown which was in modern-day Virginia. Also unlike the Spanish, the English tried to make the natives that they encountered assimilate into their culture. They judged them as barbarians, but they did not make war with them or try to eliminate them. Instead, they believed in creating a "rigid separation" between them and the native peoples. They isolated their new societies from the Indians unlike the Spanish who captured them and retained the natives as slaves.
Other places along the eastern coast as far north as Newfoundland ended up being settled by merchants as well as other interested in taking advantage of the natural resources that existed in America. The first lasting English colonies were able to be settled because of its great wealth of fish, trees, and arable land, and these led to become very successful settlements.
On the other hand, though, the Spanish ran into much trouble because of their choice of the placement of their settlements. They wanted to get rich quick, but in order to do so they had to deal with large populations of Indians who did not react well to the Spaniards harsh treatment. Instead of living apart form the natives like the English, the Spanish sent over a small population in order rule over these people and extract as much wealth as possible from the environment. They did not think to anchor themselves in the New World by creating an agricultural and permanent economy like English. Part of that was because they originally traveled to Mexico which supplied much gold but not great farming land. The environment they had settled in did not lend itself to the development of a society based on permanence that the English tried so hard to achieve. The English settlements of the North, though, did have the environmental characteristics necessary for a successful, long-term community.
Spain and England also used very different methods of acquiring the right to settle America. A person who was interested in the "exploration, conquest, and colonization in America" only needed to deal with the government in order acquire a license to claim land in the name of Spain. All of the other details that went along with settling a colony in the New World including money were privately accomplished. After years of great independence from the Spanish throne, their colonies were taken over by a hierarchical system in which the government's jurisdiction became extended down to the local communities of the new settlements.
Unlike the Spanish, the English were able to develop their on political systems in the New World. This resulted from the very loose grip that the motherland had on its colonies. Within time, "the monarch often played an indirect, even nominal, role."
England and Spain both got to the New World. The route they took to get there was very different, though. One focused on finding treasures that would uncover wealth beyond their dreams, and the other dreamed of creating a permanent, little society that would produce the necessary supplies and that become hard to find. Within a short time, Spain found the gold and silver it had been looking for but little more than that. It settled in an area in which an agricultural society could not successfully be based. This led to small communities of Spanish ruling large tribes of native Indians. As a long-term project, the colonies of Spain were not even as close to being as successful as those of England. The English settlements were able to create a permanent residence that produced great amounts of food and supplies that were desperately needed in England. In the long run, the English benefited much more from their colonies than did Spain. Both countries, though, were able to capitalize greatly on the fact that the world was round.
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