Spanish vs. British Colonial Projects in the United States
America remained home to many outsiders since its discovery in 1492. The Spanish first explored it in an expedition led by Christopher Columbus. The Spanish Empire colonized America and took control of a major portion of America between 15th and 19th century. Spanish came to America for trade purposes and to spread Christianity among the newly discovered inhabitants. The first Spanish settlement took place in the late 15th century by Columbus and his successors. This settlement changed America’s existing political, social and religious concepts and majority accepted Christianity as a result of efforts by Spanish preachers. In the mid-16th century, the British visited North America, and it started a war between Spain and England to take over trade and colonization, and finally, the English won the war and took control of North America. In the further paragraphs, we will discuss the major differences between Spanish and British colonization in America, their positive and negative effects on the population, how they shaped America’s politics, society, and religious concepts, and we will argument on why British colonization was better than Spanish.
The diversity of United States in their religion, politics, social issues and economy relates to the colonization of the British and Spanish. The first difference between British and Spanish colonization is the difference of religion that Spanish and British brought with them. Both Spanish and British colonization had a significant effect on religious beliefs of American Northern colonies. Most of the English colonies were puritans. In the last half of seventeenth-century Quakers overcame the Puritans. Quakers belief was that neither Bible nor preachers are necessary to worship God (Roark, pp.79). When British started colonizing America most of the colonies were made Quakers. There were other colonies that started settling that had other religions like puritans, orthodox, Baptists, and Lutherans. The emphasis on religion was less in the Chesapeake towns where natives’ whole belief was in the cultivation of tobacco, and they left religion aside (Roark, pp 60). The religion as presented by Spanish was pure Christianity faith, and they executed whoever who opposed pure Christian faith like protestants and Quakers. While English colonies were busy in cultivating tobacco, Spanish made the conquest of New Mexico and Florida. Instead of involving themselves in cultivating tobacco, the Spanish started efforts to convert native Indians who were mainly Angolan to Christians (Roark, pp 65). Spanish started civilizing Native Americans and introduced them to advanced concepts of farming, cattle breeding, weaponry, and tools, they also introduced the concept of equality to men and abolished slavery. The natives then got attracted to Spanish missionaries preachings and their anti-slavery concepts, and huge pupation accepted Christianity as faith. There were several Catholic churches made in Mexico and Florida. There was some opposition against Spanish preaching like the Pueblo Revolt, led by Pope` in 1680, in which they burnt images of Christ and Virgin Mary and abolished churches. In the next paragraph, we will discuss the politics that British and Spanish brought to America.
The politics and governance of the colonies were as diverse as the religion. Puritans mostly controlled the British colonies in the seventeenth century. The founding of Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 was made and given in the control of the General Court. The company stockholders, who were called freemen. The Puritans presented a Royal charter in the general court which permitted the Massachusetts Bay company to be run in the American colonies rather than in England. This action of puritans enabled them to take control of the government in present-day Massachusetts. The Spanish government in the Florida and New Mexico colonies was mainly controlled by viceroys and governors, which were directly appointed by the king. The laws that were implemented in the colonies were directly given by the king and colonists had to obey these orders at any cost. Most of the Protestants were killed as they opposed the laws enforced on them. The Pueblo Revolt not only opposed the religion that was imposed on them but also the strict government laws that were enforced on them by the Spanish. The British relation with native Americans helped them in their trade, and they generated revenue by cultivating crops. The colonies of Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina that were fully devolved by the start of the eighteenth century grew staple crops for export and provided livelihood to many Native Americans. The British colonists had the concept that all men are created equal, and they deserve equal rights irrespective of their race and color. Many poor natives who got inspired from British equality concepts flocked to the British colonies, and many Indians converted to Protestants, this is different from what happened in New Mexico and Florida where Catholic missionaries enforced religion to them. The forced labor system of “Ecomienda” that Spanish tried to impose on natives was never accepted by the British colonists. They rejected the concept of slavery, but in contradiction, they still made many Indians and Africans their slaves and defined themselves superior to them. Next, we will discuss the points that were bases of the economic structure of the colonies.
In British colonies, the economy was based on farming and trade. As the soil of New England was rocky, it did not permitted the traditional type of farming that was done in the fertile soil of England The British colonists were forced by the government to involve in trade with the native Indians to obtain pelts of furry animals as they were in large demand in England (Roark, pp 77), while they searched for furry animals they found vast forests that could be used for timber, timber, and pelts then became one of the highest earning trade items. Another big trade item was the codfish, that was in abundance in New England coast, and it participated hugely in growing England economy. The soil of New Netherland colonies was rich in fertility, wheat was cultivated in abundance, and wheat flour was number one export item from the middle colonies (Roark, pp 96). The second biggest trade item was tobacco that was cultivated in southern colonies. As the cultivation of tobacco requires effort, the farmers were mostly the slaves who were bought by the colonists to perform heavy tasks. The concept of slavery is similar to the British and Spanish colonies, but the difference lies in the enforcement. The British intelligently used native Indians for their benefits, but Spanish opted the way of enforcement we can be seen from the opposition that started against them as they forced the native Indians to work for the Spanish monarchy (Roark, pp. 46).
Based on the facts that we found in the book, it can be concluded that British colonization was better than the Spanish colonization of America. By the enforcement of religion and slavery-like, many other examples in history have never made any nation to obey the rules of the oppressor, and the same thing happened with Spanish colonization which eventually led to a failure. The governments while making new settlements should apply intelligent approach while colonizing new population. As we see from the British rule on North and Southern America, for a nation to work under another nation’s rule, the rulers have to be gentle and intelligent while presenting religion and new concepts to the new colony.
Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise, Volume I: To 1877: A History of the United States. Vol. 1. Macmillan, 2012.