TheSuccess of the Spanish, English, and French at Achieving their Goalsof Colonization
The Success of the Spanish, English, and French at Achieving theirGoals of Colonization
European colonizers first explored and exploited the Americas forpolitical conquest and economic gain. The vast majority of Spanish,English, and French citizens supported the invasion of the nativeIndians` territory. Granted, some people were opposed to suchexploration and colonization due to the harmful effects inflicted onlocal populations (Zinn and Arnove 2011). In fact, whites wereinfamous for using divide-and-conquer methods to inspire conflictsamong the Indians.
Christopher Columbus fostered several ideologies that characterizedthe European colonization of the Natives’ territory. Firstly, heepitomized the belief that Christians were inherently superior topagans and other non-Christian religions. Furthermore, he consideredthe domination of non-whites as inevitable and natural. Columbus alsoshowed other colonizers that it was courageous and noble to seekpower and wealth (Zinn and Arnove 2011). Therefore, the explorerintroduced several tactics that influenced the interactions amongpeople of different races. Such methods included the advancement ofslave trade and the forceful seizure of land and wealth (Zinn andArnove 2011). Indigenous people were also subjected to harshservitude in gross violation of their human rights.
TheHistorical and Cultural Background of European Colonizers
The history of English civilization was characterized by severalfactors. In fact, the population lacked diversity since the majorityof the people were whites. Furthermore, political exclusivity beganin 1215. Before this period, people had different rights depending ontheir social status. For example, peasants were not entitled to manyprivileges. The Magna Carta allowed all Englishmen to have freedomfrom slavery. On the other hand, non-whites were not protected by anylaw or statute. Nevertheless, people could not be forced toassimilate into the English society. Religious exclusivity ensuredthat the Church of England was the sole religious institution.Puritans believed in predestination such that an individual could beselected by God through signs. Furthermore, British farmers keptlivestock for the sake of wool.
Although the monarchy was quite unstable, the House of Lordsdominated Parliament. An individual had to own enough property tobecome eligible for voting. In fact, 75% of the people could notparticipate in the electorate process. The average population during1400-1500 was four million inhabitants. Nearly half of Englishpeasants became homeless throughout 1430-1530. In 1607, the Jamestowncolony was established in Virginia (Zinn 2015). Subsequently,homeless people were offered the chance to work on tobaccoplantations for seven years.
Contrariwise, Spain had a diverse population with many immigrants.The Roman Catholic Church was the dominant religion in comparison toIslam and Judaism. The hierarchical system relegated Africanimmigrants to the lowest social classes. Although the SpanishInquisition led to the mass conversion of people, the country wasunified in 1492. On the other hand, the French Revolution began in1788. The Hundred Years` War and the Thirty Years` War strengthenedthe country`s monarchy and established strong institutions.
TheSuccesses and Failures of European Colonizers
The Spanish explorers were ruthless in their dealings with thosepresumed to fall short of their standards of civility. For example,they removed all Moors out of Granada and deposed them in Barbarywithout issuing them with new seats (Canny 1973). Furthermore, theSpaniards considered the indigenous population in the New World asexpendable and culturally inferior. It seemed proper to bring theIndians to subjection. Subsequently, they pursued a form of culturalclassification to segregate themselves from the Natives (Canny 1973).The colonizers also exterminated many Indians since they wererendered insignificant.
During the 16th century, Spanish authorities sought togive missionaries an influential role in the administration of NewSpain (Sandos 1985). In fact, they assumed that Indians would adoptChristianity without any resistance. However, many Native Americanscould not accept the legitimacy of the authority exercised by themissionaries. In addition, they failed to recognize the potency ofthe clerics’ beliefs (Sandos 1985). Although the Spanish recognizedthe importance of sharing power, they blatantly refused to honor theIndians. Consequently, Chumash Indians rebelled in 1824 and foughtagainst the white settlers (Sandos 1985). Although some Natives fled,the indigenous communities were convinced that a new age had dawned.Notably, the 1824 conflict was a spiritual contest between twocultural groups, who believed that they had legitimate answers to theworld’s mysteries (Sandos 1985).
Granted, the Spanish colonizers managed to introduce healthy andbeneficial practices to the New World. In this respect, ChumashIndians used supernatural charms such as the datura to ensure successin personal spiritual growth, medicine, and religion (Sandos 1985).Furthermore, they accepted sexual liaisons between unmarried andmarried individuals (Sandos 1985). However, the Spanish exalted thehusband-wife relationship to rectify the fragility attributed to themarriage union by the Indians. Moreover, Chumash women killed theirfirst-born children to beget others. Abortion and infanticide werecommonplace among the Indians (Sandos 1985). Therefore, Spanishinvolvement ended the proliferation of such barbaric practices.
Similarly, English colonizers felt that they could convert the Irishpeople to Christianity (Canny 1973). Nevertheless, such efforts wereultimately abandoned since it was decided that the inhabitants had toabandon their barbarous way of life (Canny 1973). Similarly, Englishcolonizers had sought to civilize the Indians and hence change theirseemingly ancient practices. The insurrection of 1622 provided thewhite settlers with the justification needed to deal harshly with theNatives (Canny 1973). Indians were viewed as unsettled people, whocould not utilize their land properly. Therefore, English settlersfelt mandated to deprive the lazy and licentious tribes of theirproperty. In this respect, white explorers failed to reclaimindigenous people from their presumed state of degeneracy (Canny1973). Notably, English colonizers were credited with helping in thedevelopment of both cultural and historical concepts. Furthermore,they widened the horizons enjoyed by articulate citizens (Canny1973). However, English colonizers were convinced that Irish werebarbarians, who fostered the practice of transhumance. Consequently,they used extralegal methods to subdue the culturally inferiorpeople. English colonizers also used the precedent set by the Spanishto transplant Natives during the establishment of the Ulsterplantation (Canny 1973).
On the other hand, French colonizers provided settlers withmoderately sized tracts of land. Consequently, areas such asLouisiana developed a domestic market of rice and corn (Usner 1987).The French explorers also treated the region as an importer offoodstuffs such as alcohol and flour (Usner 1987). However, theirinvolvement in the New World had some undesirable outcomes. Forexample, the battle between Indian and French forces led to theRevolutionary War (Zinn and Arnove 2011). Consequently, many AmericanIndians perished in the battle.
HowIndian Actions Affected These Outcomes
Contrary to popular opinion, Columbus’ arrival in the Caribbeanregion could not be viewed as the discovery of a new world. Rather,it was a blatant invasion of a region that had existed for many years(Zinn and Arnove 2011). Furthermore, some Euro-Americans believedthat the Indians were primitive before contact with the colonizers.However, the latter were highly civilized before their encounter withEnglish invaders. Notably, the colonists firmly believed that theiractions would help native Indians to change their savagecharacteristics. Notwithstanding the pursuit of civilization, suchinterventions led to extensive genocide (Zinn and Arnove 2011).Consequently, labeling the Europeans as successful discoverers wouldbe justifying their actions and motives.
The enslaved Indians adopted various tactics to acquire theirfreedom. In fact, they actively resisted the institution of slaveryinto colonial laws. In many instances, some courageous onesarticulated their grievances while citing the hypocrisy of viewingother humans as property. Other people filed fruitless petitions withcolonial governors and unsuccessfully tried to request for immediaterelease. Consequently, some Indians planned to escape or stageviolent revolts. The idea of slavery and exploitation vexed theNatives such that they could never be cheerful concerning theirworking and living conditions (Zinn and Arnove 2011). Furthermore,the attitudes of most Indians to the colonizers were characterized byfear, uncertainty, and mistrust.
The colonists were greatly divided by political, economic, and socialdifferences. Indentured servants played a considerable role indetermining the nature of struggles within the Americas. Europeancolonizers were constantly troubled by the impending threat ofrebellion (Zinn and Arnove 2011). The mere might of such explorersmay have discouraged frequent uprisings. Nevertheless, the masterswere fearful of the looming occurrence of rebellion. In fact, thelikelihood of revolts motivated the white colonizers to developstrategic policies. Such guidelines were designed to deter unity andcooperation among different Indian nations (Zinn and Arnove 2011).The Native Americans were also hindered from collaborating withenslaved blacks.
Inevitably, poor whites lacked the power to challenge and vanquishEuropean colonizers. Some cases highlight the nature of interactionsbetween the explorers and Native Americans. For example, theVirginians required labor to grow tobacco for export and corn forsubsistence (Zinn 2015). In fact, the planters had preached Christianvalues to the Indians. Nevertheless, the former persisted in thelucrative business of selling drugs to England and other areas. TheVirginians found it difficult to force Indians into servitude sincethe latter were densely populated. Furthermore, any attempts tomassacre the Native Americans with their powerful weapons wouldinspire violent retaliation (Zinn 2015). In addition, it was quiteimpossible to capture and enslave the Indians due to several reasons.Firstly, they were more familiar with the local terrain in comparisonto English colonizers (Zinn 2015). The Indians were also defiant,resilient, and resourceful. In fact, the Natives could derive morebenefits from the land with less labor than that used by the whitesettlers. Some people deserted the latter group and proceeded to livewith the Indians. Hence, the colonialists were jealous of the Nativesto the extent of burning their cornfields and villages. Theindigenous Americans presented an obstacle to expansion since theywere unruly to retain as a reliable labor force (Zinn, 2015). Inextreme cases, other Indians were tortured and killed. Therefore, theprosperity enjoyed by Native American tribes motivated Europeancolonizers to use excessive force.
Canny, Nicholas P. 1973. "The Ideology of English Colonization:From Ireland to America." The William and Mary Quarterly30 (4): 575. doi:10.2307/1918596.
Sandos, James A. 1985. "LEVANTAMIENTO!: The 1824 ChumashUprising Reconsidered". Southern California Quarterly 67(2): 109-133. doi:10.2307/41171145.
Usner, Daniel H. 1987. "The Frontier Exchange Economy of TheLower Mississippi Valley In The Eighteenth Century." TheWilliam and Mary Quarterly 44 (2): 165. doi:10.2307/1939662.
Zinn, Howard. 2015. A People`s History of the United States.New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
Zinn, Howard and Anthony Arnove. 2011. Voices of a People`sHistory of the United States. 2nd ed. New York: Seven StoriesPress.