Q1: Defend or refute one of the following statements: The European encounter with the Americas can be viewed as a disaster and a tragedy. Or The European encounter with the Americas can be seen as inevitable development in the history of humanity with long-run positive results. The European encounter with the Americas has more of a negative affect than a positive affect. After Columbus had came back from America with gold, many monarchs and countries got excited by the gold and sought formal confirmation of ownership of these new lands.
As the Europeans met the Indians, they treated them harshly and used them as slaves. The Indian population decreased quickly due to diseases and overwork from the Europeans. Due to the decrease in labor, the Europeans brought over African Americans to be used as slaves. These African Americans were separated from their families and treated as property, not as people. It took many years for the African Americans to receive the same liberties as the white men. The Europeans sacrificed many lives to supply their labor needs and their mother country.
Spain was one of the first countries to explore the Americas. They were in search of enormous riches that led them to conquering much of South America and North America. To conquer the Americas the Spanish monarchs used their powerful army, led by independent Spanish adventurers known as conquistadores. As conquistadores confined their attentions to the Caribbean islands, the European diseases they unwittingly carried with them devastated the local Indian populations, who had no immunities against such diseases. After about 1510 the conquistadores turned their attention the America mainland.
In 1519, Hernando Cortes led his dramatic expedition against the Aztecs of Mexico. They won enormous riches due to the fact that the Indians at first mistook him for a god. Also the Spaniards had firearms, armor, horses, and diseases. Due to this, Cortes destroyed the Aztec empire. As Spanish had began to colonize they administered its new holdings as an autocratic, rigidly controlled empire in which everything was to benefit the parent country. Since population pressures were low in 16th century Spain, only a few hundred thousand Spaniards came to America during that time.
To deal with the consequent labor shortages and to reward the successful conquistadores, the Spaniards developed a system of large manors or estates. This system is called the encomienda system which Indian slaves were ruthlessly managed for the benefit of the conquistadores. The encomienda system was later replaced by the hacienda system because the Indian population died from overwork and European diseases. Due to the supply of labor needs, the Spaniards began importing African slaves. Society in New Spain was stratified by ones place of birth.
The highest level was reserved for natives of Spain, which is also known as peninsulares. The next was for those of Spanish parentage born in the New World, called creoles and those of mixed or Indian blood occupied lower levels. Spaniards have inflicted much pain upon the Indians and African Americans whom they used as slaves. Indians tried to have a trading relationship with the Europeans. As the Europeans learned of the Indians wealth, they abominated the Indians out of greed. At first, Indians tried to befriend the Whites. Squanto, who was a Wampanoag tried to keep relative peace.
In 1637, after mounting tensions exploded, English settlers and the powerful Pequot tribe fought the Pequot War. In this war, the English set fire to a Pequot village on Connecticut’s Mystic River, which annihilated the Indians and brought forty years of tentative peace. In an attempt to save the relationship, the Puritans tried to convert some of the Indians but with little effort. Metacom, also known as King Phillip by the English, tried to live in harmony with the colonies. As the colonies and the Iroquois Confederation expanding, it pushed hostile tribes east, which caused conflict over land.
In 1671, the colonial leaders demanded armament and ammunition from Metacom’s tribe. As Metacom surrendered his treasured belongings, he was also subjected to obey the English laws. Only four years later, the Kind Philip’s War broke out. King Philip led the war to exterminate the whites and the War slowed the colonial western march. As a result, Metacom was beheaded and quartered, and his head was stuck on a sharp pike for all to see. His wife and son were sold to slavery. The system of indentured servitude was open to serious abuse.
Many monarchs became ravenous for the gold in America and tried to establish colonies. The colonies survival remained in doubt for many years. A company owned the entire colony, which means all members shared the profits regardless of how much or little they worked. This created a lack of incentive in the people. Many settlers were gentlemen, who considered themselves too good to work at growing the food the colony needed to survive. The settlers had come to the Americas with the expectation of finding gold or other quick and easy riches rather than providing for their survival.
Due to this belief, the Europeans used slaves to farm and do housework. As New England’s population grew, local Indian tribes felt threatened and conflict resulted. As the Native Americans were prone to European diseases, the labor demand increased. The Europeans discovered that African Americans were stronger and immune to their diseases. Although many landowners were afraid of possibly mutinous white servants, blank slaves outnumber white servants among the plantation colonies. After 1700, more slaves were imported than in the past. By 1750, blacks accounted for nearly half of the Virginian population.
Some of the earliest black slaves gained their freedom and some became slaveholders themselves. Eventually, slave codes were created to clear up issues on slave ownership. Slave codes made it so that slaves and their children would remain slaves to their masters for life, unless their master let them free voluntarily. Some laws made teaching slaves to read a crime, and not even conversion to Christianity might qualify a slave for freedom. Slave life in the Deep South was very tough, because rice growing was harder than tobacco growing.
Most slaves had dirty work such as clearing swamps and grubbing out trees. Due to the harsh treatment, revolts did occur. Africans in America had hard lives devoted to being captive in slavery. Many issues from the exploration of the European had an impact on developments in the Americas. They include attitudes toward slaves, Native Americans, and enslaved blacks. Europeans have brought distress upon many people and destroyed ethnic groups in the Americas. They forcibly used other races as slaves for their own personal benefit. The European encounter with the Americas is viewed as a tragedy with some people.