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English vs. Spanish Colonization Essay

From 1500 to 1700, the English colonization of the Chesapeake region and the Spanish colonization of the Central/South American region varied greatly in their primary motivations for settlement and the lasting effects imprinted into both societies. The English motives in settling the Chesapeake region were more economically-based, seeking greater economic opportunity and employment, while the Spanish effort took on a more religious approach that ended up having long-term effects on the way their culture and society developed. The effects both colonies felt differed in many ways, primarily due to the varying motivational influences felt by the English and the Spanish. However, similarities in colonial motivations and cultural impacts were present between both societies. English colonization of the Chesapeake region revolved around economic gain and opportunity that colonizers believed could be found in the New World. Overcrowding in England led to a desire for expansion and better employment options for English settlers. Rumors of gold discovery in the New World also spurred an intense frenzy that English colonizers sought to pursue, resulting in the development of societies poorly suited for colonial life when gold was never found.

On the other hand, Spanish colonization of Central and South America began with the Spanish conquistadors, who used the saying “God, Gold, and Glory” to describe their motivations for colonization. The dominant motivational force for the Spanish was the religious aspect, where conquistadors sought to spread Christianity throughout Central and South America. The “Glory” prospect was heightened by the yearning for Spain’s dominance over the Western Hemisphere, which was thought to be obtained through unifying native peoples through Bailey Kargo! IB HOTA 3rd period the Christian religion. Similar to one aspect of English motivations, the Spanish also sought to find gold and riches that they thought the New World had to offer. When Christopher Colombus returned from his expedition to the New World, he reported to the Spanish crown his confidence in the quest for wealth in this new land. He described his encounters with the natives where they traded him gold for various items, and even claimed he saw gold in the rivers. This fueled the Spanish obsession in their ultimate quest for wealth and riches. The effects of settling the Chesapeake region reflected the English economic motivations for colonization there.

When the Jamestown Colony was founded in 1607, settlers found themselves ill-prepared for establishing a structured colony, especially when they were solely prepared for discovering gold. The Jamestown Colony struggled immensely at first due to lack of supplies and skills needed to create the foundations of a colonial society. However, John Rolfe’s introduction of tobacco to the region completely transformed the economy and played a key role in saving the Jamestown colony. Tobacco became a booming industry and plantation owners needed more workers for cheap labor. As a result, African slaves were introduced into the population to meet these needs, stimulating a new industry: the slave trade. The successful tobacco economy was also capable of financing the importation of indentured servants, which also played a major role in the labor force and became an integral part of the Chesapeake’s economy. Wealthy landowners were now able to have more help on their plantations and have access to more land, while servants now had the ability to own land and create a name for themselves among the colonies. Unlike English colonization, Spanish colonization in the Americas completely decimated native populations.

The introduction of European diseases, particularly smallpox, along with Bailey Kargo! IB HOTA 3rd period updated European weaponry decimated Indian culture and transformed their way of life due to lack of immunity to such diseases and more primitive weapons. Native populations were seen as much weaker compared to the conquistadors and their armies, making them extremely easy to conquer. A cultural angle unique to the Spanish settlements was the creation of the Mestizo culture. Unlike the English, the Spanish conquerors and Native Americans intermarried, allowing for a completely new race to develop and contribute to society. Although they were regarded as lesser than other races and looked down upon, the creation of the Mestizo culture proved to become a unique impact of Spanish colonization that later English settlers chose not to conform to. The introduction of the encomienda system was also a significant effect that became an integral part of Spanish society.

When the Spanish conquered natives, these natives were required to perform work for Spanish landowners. In return, the natives would receive protection from other tribes and the conversion to the Christian faith. This system was extremely beneficial to the colonists who received land and gained Christian converts, but many native tribes were reduced to involuntary servitude that further devastated Indian populations in addition to disease and war. The differing motivations behind English colonization of the Chesapeake region and the Spanish of Latin America proved to directly affect the way each colonies were formed from 1500 to 1700.

English colonization revolved around a more economic basis, while the Spanish focused more on religious aspects that managed to integrate their way into its economy as well. Despite these differences, both societies found a common motivation in the search for gold and riches, and both incorporated different forms of slavery, indentured servitude and African slaves in the Chesapeake and the encomienda system in Latin America, into their economies that stimulated Bailey Kargo! IB HOTA 3rd period each colony’s development. The growth and expansion of both colonization efforts eventually would fuel the newfound desire of other European nations to join the race to the Americas in an attempt to assert their dominance and further diversify societies of the New World.


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