The news of a New World spread like a forest fire throughout Europe and the race for colonies between Portugal and Spain began. Each country started to conquer the ancient civilizations and exploit the continents raw material. This collision deeply affected all of the Atlantic societies. The conquistadors had a powerful effect that began to create a truly new world in Latin America; the New World would never then be the same after 1492.
When Columbus waded shore two ecosystems amalgamated and clashed. When the Europeans arrived, they brought diseases that the Native Americans were not immune to including small pox, measles, bubonic plague, influenza, typhus, diphtheria, yellow fever, malaria and the scarlet fever. Devoid of natural resistance to these diseases, the Native Americans died in great masses. Within fifty years of the Spanish arrival, the population of the Taino natives in Hispaniola dwindled from 1 million people to about 200. In return, the Europeans were infected with syphilis, which they acquired from the Native Americans. Other than disease, the Europeans introduced new crops and plants such as wheat, sugar, rice, coffee, dandelions, daisies, and Kentucky bluegrass.
The Europeans also introduced new domestic animals such as horses, cows, and pigs. The introduction of horses caused North American tribes like the Apaches, Sioux, and Blackfoot to adopt these animals, transforming their cultures into highly mobile societies. On the other hand, the Europeans acquired gold and silver as one Aztec described them: They thirsted mightily for gold; they stuffed themselves with it; they starved for it; they lusted for it like pigs. The Europeans were also introduced to new crops such as corn, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, tobacco, beans, vanilla, chocolate, and sweet potatoes. Other than material things and disease, the Europeans and the Natives created a new race. This happened when Cortés conquered Mexico and began to encourage intermarriage with the surviving Natives. Although Cortés encouraged intermarriage, he enslaved many of the Native Americans. This created a new and distinctive culture of mestizos.
These were some aspects of the collision between the two worldsSpains colonial empire grew swiftly and impressively and as it did it deeply affected all the Atlantic societies. The Spanish success reached France and England causing French and English voyages to be sent in order to get part of this colonial success. In Florida on the borderlands, Spanish erected forts to protect sea-lanes to the Caribbean, to secure the northern periphery of their New World domain against such encroachments, and to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Unlike the rest of the colonies, the Spanish settlers in New Mexico found little gold fur, but they did discover wealth of souls to be harvested for the Christian religion. The Roman Catholic mission became the central institution in colonial New Mexico until the missionaries efforts to suppress native religious customs provoked a Native uprising called the Pope Rebellion.
The Pueblo rebels destroyed every church in the province and killed a score of priests and hundreds of spinach settlers. In California, no serious foreign threat loomed and Spain directed its attention there only belatedly. Rodriguez had explored the California coast in 1542, but he failed to find San Francisco bay or anything else of much interest. For some two centuries after California slumbered undisturbed by European intruders. Then in 1769 Spanish missionaries led by Father Serra found San Diego. Father Serras Franciscan friars toiled with zealous devotion to Christianize 300,000 Native Americans.
They gathered the semi-nomadic Native American into fortified missions and taught them horticulture and basic craft. These mission Native Americans adopted Christianity, but they also lost contact with their native cultures and often lost their lives as well, as the white mans diseases doomed these biologically vulnerable peoples. These changes helped create a truly new world in Latin America including the borderlands of Florida, New Mexico, and California; all of which later became part of the United States.
In conclusion, the Spanish invaders did indeed kill, enslave, and infect countless natives, but they also built a colossal empire, stretching from California and Florida to Tierra del Fuego. They grafted their culture, laws, religion, and language into a wide array of native-societies, laying the foundations for a score of Spanish-speaking nations.
Courtney from Study Moose
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