Compare and contrast Spanish and British colonization efforts in North America prior to 1763.
Prior to 1763, both Spanish and British colonization efforts expanded into various regions of North America. In less than a century, from 1625 to 1700, the movements of peoples and goods from Europe to North America transformed the continent. Native Americans either resisted or accommodated the newcomers depending on the region of the colony. Though the English colonies were by far the most populous, within the English colonies, four distinct regions emerged. While planters or merchants grew in power in each English colony, Spanish colonists, with far fewer colonists, depended more on friendly relations with Native Americans to secure their safety than did the English. Most Spanish colonists not connected to the government or military resided in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico. By 1700 there were clear differences between the societies and economies of the three colonial powers in North America. The achievements of Spain on the North American mainland contrasted starkly with those of Britain. More lightly populated by Europeans, their colonies were more dependent on Native Americans for their survival. Despite their mercantilist orientations, Spain didn’t profit significantly by colonizing mainland North America. Disregarding the wealth and progress of British America, the colonies were rife with tensions of their own. In some areas, vast discrepancies in the distribution of wealth and opportunities fostered a rebellious spirit among whites who were less well off. Not only did the English colonies have deep-seated religious and ideological divisions, they too had depths of racial antagonisms. However, both the Spanish and British formed their separate colonies in distinctly different methods. The Spanish, as they colonized earlier than the English, had a different approach to colonizing in North America and acted differently toward those indigenous people who had inhabited the region prior to themselves. One of the biggest distinctions between the Spanish and British was their political ruling of the region at the time. Although both the Spanish and British had major colonizing efforts in North America prior to 1763 and they both had similar pursuits in that they had varying economic goals, religious objectives, and some form of governing by their host countries. The British colonization efforts in North America prior to 1763 were economically, demographically, and politically different than those of the Spanish and these differences ultimately led to their greater success.
A major distinction between the Spanish and British colonization efforts in North America were their contrasting economic situations both in the colonies and in their home countries. As the Spanish had discovered large deposits of gold and silver early on, their economic stand point changed immensely since obtaining such gold and silver lead to inflation. Inflation rose to such gross levels that Spain had to trade with the French and British in order to remain a colonizing power. While both the English and Spanish followed mercantilist principles, the English swayed in a different method into maintaining a strong economic power at the time. The English had successfully invested into a commercial economy in which the merchant class held the majority of the wealth of which they would invest a large amount back into the economy. Since the English were initially successful economically, the colonies became an incentive to continue sending settlers and continue investing in the colonies, unlike the Spanish who had no such incentive. Though both the Spanish and British had lead their colonization efforts with intentions to benefit economically through their ventures, the English and Spanish differed in the level of economic benefits each mercantilist economies gained as the English maintained a beneficial economical profit, which was sustainable for a...
Cited: Boyer, Paul et al. “The Enduring Vision.” Cengage Learning. 6e. Houghton Mifflin Company.
5 Jul. 2011
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