Spanish Settlements and Native Americans

During the 17th century, many nations started settling all throughout North America. Spanish conquistadors claimed much of the Southwest, while England began to occupy the Northeast. The Spanish and English colonies varied in terms of the impact of religion and control of the economy. The Spanish and English colonies varied in terms of religion such as immigration and opinions on salvation. Starting in the late 1500s and early 1600s, conquistadors such as Vasco Nunuez de Balboa and Herman Cortes of the Spanish empire first started to make their way into the New World.

Known for their mantra, “Gold, Glory, God”, the main reason for their expansion was for power and wealth. In the Spanish church, the Pope decided who went to Heaven. This scared most Roman Catholics of the Spanish Empire into following the rules of the church. The Spanish ships arrived containing soldiers of the Spanish empire as well as Franciscan Friars, or priests of the Roman Catholic Church. The priests began converting Native Americans to Catholicism.

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The Spanish believed that by converting the Native Americans, the natives would be saved from an eternity spent in Hell. (This belief led them to demand tribute from the Native Americans.) Due to the notion that the Pope grants entrance into heaven, King Phillip III of the Spanish Empire fulfilled any demand the head of the church had.

When the Pope insisted the Roman Catholic Church needed more money, King Phillip III made it a requirement for converted Native Americans to pay tribute to the Spanish using gold and silver bullion.

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On the other hand, English settlers came to the New World to practice their religion freely. After England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1500s, The Church of England was founded and all of England was forced to belong. The Puritans did not agree with ways of the Anglican Church. After years of being punished by King Charles I for not obeying the Church of England’s rules, the Puritans came to the New World. The colonists founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 as a way to reform parts of the Protestant religion. One major aspect of the Anglican Church that the Puritans wanted to reform was the belief that one’s actions on earth determined entrance into Heaven. The Puritans believed in predestination, a belief that God decides who will go to Heaven and Hell before birth. A Puritan’s actions on Earth were evidence of who was going to heaven. The Spanish and the English came to the New World for different reasons. The Spanish came to expand their empire through religion.

The English wanted religious freedom. The Spanish settlers had strong ties back the Spanish empire; all tribute that Native Americans aid to the Spanish settlers was sent back to the Spanish empire and Roman Catholic Church. Because the English setters came to the New World to distance themselves from England, the colonists of New England were mostly on their own. Because of this, English settlers were more independent and self-sufficient. The cultures also had different ideas about salvation. The Spanish believed that leaders of the church decide who goes to heaven. The English believed that their fate was predestined, and that God chose who will go to heaven before birth. Because of the Spanish settlers reliance on the church officials, the English settlers show more independence than the Spanish. Another difference between the Spanish settlers of the Southwest and English settlers of New England were their views on acceptable ways to treat the Native Americans economically and on proper handling of wealth. The Spanish used the encomienda system to acquire wealth.

Under this system, an ecomendero was granted a specific number of Native Americans to protect from other tribes and teach the Spanish language to. In exchange, the encomendero could force the Native Americans to pay tribute in forms of bullion and labor. Eventually, the native people began to die off from the harsh labor and foreign diseases that the Spanish brought from Spain. The Native Americans rejected Spanish control and returned to their customs. Angered by this, the Spanish captured 46 Pueblo leaders, which started the Pueblo Revolt. After years of fighting, the Spanish regained control. In New England, relationships with local Native Americans started out peaceful. The Native Americans and settlers of New England began to trade with each other. Native Americans, who were used to their elementary weapons, acquired better weapons from the Europeans. This once beneficiary exchange between the two cultures eventually grew tense.

As years went on and more settlers came to America, conflicts arose. An agreement formed between Dutch settlers of New York and the English settlers of New England about the division of the Pequot lands. When no immediate decisions were reached of who would gain the land, New Englanders started to settle in the area without notice. The Pequot took this unplanned invasion as a form of attack, and fought back. After a series of attacks, New England called for reinforcements from allies. By joining forces with Plymouth and the Narragansett people, the English gained control of the lands. In Spanish settlements, the economy revolved around mercantilism. The colonies were founded to economically compliment the Spanish empire by sending all wealth back to Spain. Foreign ships were prohibited to enter Spanish ports to keep a positive balance of trade. On the other side of the New World, the English colony of Plymouth initially set up a communal society.

The entire community shared the land and helped farm. This later proved to be unsuccessful, and the land was divided up. In New England, farming was possible, but not particularly successful. The rocky soil and short growing season made growing the majority of crops difficult. The English settlers found the most profit in fishing and large trading ships. Since the colonists of New England were independent, from England, all profit made from farming and fishing stayed in the colonies. The Spanish and English battled with Native Americans of the Southwest and New England. The Spanish settlers, coming from a large empire, already had the taste for conquering other nations. Defeating cultures was a foreign concept to the people of New England. Their humble victory over the Pequot people resulted in unexpected success. The Spanish and English had similar economies with major differences. The Spanish economy was based on mercantilism.

This gives evidence of ties back the Spanish empire, who ruled Spanish settlements. The English colonists traded with Europe, but also raised crops and cattle for themselves. While the Spanish sent their gained wealth back to Spain, the English settlers were able to make a profit. Because the Spanish settlements economy was created to benefit the Spanish empire, English settlers are more independent than the empire reliant Spanish. The Spanish and English settlers varied due to the English settler’s independence. The Spanish settlers showed more dependent on Spain, while English settlers showed independence when it came to treatment of Native Americans and economically using resources widely. The colonists of New England were better prepared for life on their own, and eventually gained control of all of America.

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Spanish Settlements and Native Americans. (2016, Jun 14). Retrieved from

Spanish Settlements and Native Americans

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