Political Strategies in America During the Eighteenth Century

Topics: Colonialism, Spain, British Empire Pages: 8 (3020 words) Published: April 14, 2013
Political Strategies in America during the Eighteenth Century Introduction
The eighteenth century was a period of many changes in both America and Europe. Many wars took place in different battlefields including the entire American continent, All Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Many groups of people awakened and fought for independence in the British Colonies. And European and American philosophers defined the period as of the enlightenment. By the year of 1650 the European population was 103 million and by the end of the eighteenth century that quantity had increased to 192 million. [2] A total increase of 89 million people was a result of the many reforms of the enlightenment. But the question that comes up is how these reforms contributed to the prosperity of each nation? To answer to the question, in this paper it will be analyzed how the political movements for the Spanish and British Empires during the colonial period differed. It will be first considered the antecedents for each nation and from that point it will exposed the major political events that happened in both Empires. And inside these antecedents, it will be discussed how Immanuel Kant defined “enlightenment”. What is Enlightenment?

In December 1783 the philosopher Johann Friedrich Zöllner asked the question “What is enlightenment?” in a footnote of an article published in the journal Berlinische Monatsschrift (the leading journal of enlightenment though in Germany) [2]. Many philosophers soon published responses to the question in the same journal and in others. However, Inmanuel Kant wrote an outstanding response in December 1784 in his essay “In answer to the question: What is Enlightenment?”. The contents of his essay are summarized in the following paragraph. Kant’s idea of enlightenment was viewed as a self –incurred immaturity. And from Kant’s viewpoint, immaturity was a concept defined as the inability to make use of one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. [3] In this way, the self-incurred immaturity means the courage to make decisions without the assistance of another. And indeed, this was the motto of the period of enlightenment. Kings in Europe were making radical reforms that sometimes found fierce opposition in their colonies. In fact, this was the root for the independence movements and rebellions that started in the late eighteenth century. Politics in the Spanish Colonies

In the Eighteenth century, despite of the distance, Spain controlled huge territories in the New World. In this sense, communication became a major issue since orders from the Spain would cross the Altantic in about two months and with high mortality rates during the voyage [4], forcing Spain to create new forms of government in America. Before the XVII century there were only two viceroyalties, the Viceroyalty of Peru and the Viceroyalty of New Spain. [ [5] ] But between the 1730s and 1780s, the viceroyalty of Rio de la was created. The Viceroy of the new viceroyalties became the head of the Spanish Crown in America. In order to achieve this purpose, the King granted the viceroy administrative, military, judicial and financial powers. [6] However, the Council of the Indies in Spain was the institution that governed over the viceroyalties. In this way, the viceroy became a puppet if the Spanish king. But the system had serious technical problems in the communication. For example, a viceroy was sent from Spain to govern a definite area in the name of the king, and when he wanted to communicate he would write a letter to the Council of Indies in Madrid, who in turn answered the King [7]. As a result, an answer to a question asked in Mexico would wait a response in normally two years. It was clear that the Spanish Empire was improvising; no other nation in History had had the amount of land the Spanish Empire had achieved. And the lack of technology didn’t allow to visibly measure the extent of territory. For this reason, Audiences, smaller...

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