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English VS. Spanish Colonization Essay

Although the English and Spanish both sought to sail across the Atlantic and explore to conquer the New World for their own unique reasons, the conditions and experiences they faced differed greatly. Spain claimed to have conquered the New World first with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, while the English claimed to have done so with the establishment of Jamestown in 1607. Spain and England both colonized the Americas and sought to stay there, but were faced with many obstacles that would interfere with how they continued to populate the land. Both the Spanish and the English had different colonies which had different climates and were surrounded by different landscapes. Most English colonies were established by royal charter. The earliest permanent English settlements were in Virginia and Massachusetts.

The footprint of these colonies stretched as far West as the Mississippi River. While Virginia was a Southern Colony, Massachusetts was a New England Colony. Each colony had different farmland unique to the region. Virginia was capable of growing many things such as tobacco, corn, and squash. The land in Massachusetts had little capability, needing to be fertilized to farm but long winters also posed the threat of killing crops. However, Spain maintained the land that was generally south of Georgia. Crown-sponsored conquests gained riches for Spain and expanded its empire. Most of the southern region of present-day North America was claimed by the Spanish and stretched as far as the California coast. Settlements include; St. Augustine, Florida (1565), Santa Fe, New Mexico (1610), and many cities in Texas and California.

Due to the Spanish occupation of the south, they experienced rich soil and short winter. Resulting in successful farming which reinforced the survival of the populace. Spain and England were both ruled under kings. However, these kings were followed differently by its people. The English had a more loose approach to how the citizens should obey the king. An increased distance from England and the king allowed colonists the opportunity for local governments, representative assemblies, and self-taxation, as long as they did not take up arms against the Crown. However, Spain was very strict about how their colonists should follow their king. Spain maintained a tighter grip on its citizens. Unlike the English, the Spanish monarch had appointed governors, who reported to the king alone, to rule over the Spanish Colonies. Settlers had to obey the king’s laws and were unable to govern themselves. Religion was a large reason for both the English and the Spanish to conquer the Americas.

The English, who were largely non-Catholic, sought to travel to the Americas for religious freedom. Although some tolerance was practiced in most colonies, the Puritans in Massachusetts established a restrictive religious leadership. In relation to the way the English are encouraged to follow their king, they had a similar rule for those who chose to live under different religions. The Church of England was the religion that the government wanted everyone to follow before most of the English colonies were established. All citizens were expected to follow the Church of England, or pay a fine. Those who followed were allowed to practice whatever religion they chose as long as they kept it to themselves.

This angered many Puritans, which led to many wanting to sail across the Atlantic to the New World. Those who left were seeking to be free of the Church of England. This caused many colonies such as New Jersey and Rhode Island to have religious freedom. However, the Spanish did mostly everything in the name of God. Catholicism was the absolute most important religion in the eyes of the Spanish. Settlers were restricted to be Catholics; those who were Protestants were persecuted and driven out. In the beginning, primary purpose for the Spanish exploration of the New World was to spread Christianity, but was deterred by the benefits of discovering gold and fortune.

Colonization of the New World was different for both Spain and England through their religion, government, and geography. The English sought to establish permanent settlements along the Atlantic Coast while the Spanish came to conquer and exploit the wealth and resources that already existed. Through different reasoning both European countries sought to conquer the same land, but faced various complications.


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