Spanish Colonization Essay

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Early colonization of North America can be categorized by three distinct groups: English French and Spanish. Between the years 1598 and 1763, all three of these groups settled into new territory in the hopes of gaining wealth and power. Each group had an approach to the problems faced in the New World. Factors such as native relations or religion played their role in shaping each colony. However, when the French decided to compromise with the Natives over land, their colonies failed; as opposed to the British and Spanish who exploited their Native populations and achieved successful settlements. From the moment English settlers arrived in America, there were conflicts between them and the natives. One of the earliest examples was the mystery…show more content…
When Hernan Cortes set out to conquer the Aztecs in 1521, he had help from surrounding kingdoms. Both the English and the Spanish also had a secret upper hand during their conquests. “The smallpox epidemic, which killed more then 40% of [the Aztecs] population” was a crucial instrument in ensuring European conquest of the Americas (Herman, lecture). The Spanish then bound the native peoples to the encomienda system. The encomiendas “oblig[ate] the natives to the encomiendero, they are essential his servants” (Herman, lecture). In exchange for a land grant, the natives had to work on the fields, pay a tax and serve as soldiers for the landowner. Theoretically, the owner was supposed to establish schools and have a priest minister and convert the natives. However, “there are all sorts of abuse. It 's a very horrific system of labor exploitation” (Herman, lecture). Conclusively the encomienda system was the Spanish method of exploiting native labor and land for their personal wealth. This was not their only means of prosperity, “Spanish colonization was a success by one measure: wealth--in the form of precious metals. By 1650, over 181 tons of gold and 16,000 tons of silver had been shipped from the Americas to Spain.” (Chapter 2, Section 1.4). Through conquest and looting, American metals soon made up a quarter of Spain 's
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