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A Comparison of European Settlements in the New World

With the discovery of the vast lands of the Americas by Columbus is marked by the dawn of the new age. This is the age of colonization of the new world. Soon after the European powers realized that what they though initially to be a gateway to India was a vast continent with countless riches and resources hidden in it and they started their voyages in search of riches like gold and other plunder. After finding out that the entire continent was inhabited by nearly defenseless people they soon sought to dominate them and started laying the foundation of their settlements in the region.

The most notable among these were the Spanish, the French and the English. This paper will make a comparison of the settlements of the three above-mentioned European powers. Spanish were the first to settle down in the Americas. The initial success of Columbus led to the colonization of the Caribbean region in the early 16th century. The main vision and ambition behind this colonization was both economical and religious. The Spanish not only wanted to enjoy the benefits of the slave trade, but also wanted to expand their territory and gain control of the newly found region.

Moreover they also wanted Christianize those inhabiting the region according to their Catholic belief. After the coastline of the continent was identified Spain was the first country to establish a permanent settlement in the Americas. The Spanish settlement started with the conquest of Mexico or the former Aztec empire by Spanish adventurer Hernan Cortes, while Cuba and the Caribbean were already under the Spanish control by then. Soon after landing on the Mexican soil Cortes easily overthrew the Aztec Emperor Montezuma and captured the glorious capital Tenochtitlan.

The loot and the riches found in the region were beyond his dreams. The early settlements in the region mainly consisted of male Spaniards and their newly baptized native wives. This was mainly because Cortez did not bring with him any Spanish women during his expedition. The outcome of this decision was a mixed population. Another important initial Spanish settlement was in the South West. The main centers of this settlement were in New Mexico, particularly in Sante Fe.

The main characteristics of all these settlements were the slave trade, taking Indian wives for the Spanish colonists and the force Christianization of the native population. French as compared to the Spanish were a latecomer. Their ability to seize the opportunity of exploiting the abundant resources of the new world was plagued by internal troubles and disputes specially the religious one. But the French already has their trading contacts in the northern American region, particularly New Foundland. The main reason was the French fishermen’s activities in the region.

France’s initial colonies were established in the Quebec region, as well as Montreal, Canada. French like the Spaniards were also Catholics and the most notable of those who worked here in establishing Christian faith among the natives were the Society of Jesus. Unlike the Spaniards these Jesuits didn’t forced the Indians to become Christians, but they spend their entire lives living among them and persuading them to the conversion. The French settlements are also known because of their expanded and lucrative fur trade.

This trade though not directly controlled by the authorities was among the most rare peaceful engagements of the Europeans and the Natives during the days of colonization. Unlike the Spaniards the French did not needed to set out with a great military expedition. Instead they depended on trade and making alliances with the local native population. That is the main reason why many of the Indian tribes residing in the French domain still survive today, though most of them devastated by Old World epidemics and diseases as well.

England like France was a relatively late in joining the expeditions and colonization of the New World. After settling down the religious disputes and finally becoming a Protestant nation England now emerged as a global power specially after defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588. The English view the Spanish and the French expansion as a threat to the Protestantism, therefore they setout to preach their own version of Christianity in the new world. The religious differences had led to political and economical rivalries between Spain and England. The earliest English settlements in the region were in North Carolina.

The settlement was lost twice because the supplies were not sent on timely manner because of the war between the English fleet and the Spanish Armada. Later in the 17th century the English were quite well settled in the region. Unlike the French who peacefully traded the natives and the Spaniards who brutally annihilated the native population the English stood somewhere in the middle. They initially didn’t bothered with to harm the natives but always were suspicious of them. This mutual mistrust later lead to enmity and the natives soon revolted against the English authority in the region and were finally suppressed by force.

The English also sought to spread the word of God and gospels among the natives. Unlike the French traders and Spanish conquerors English didn’t took native women as wives. They developed a sharp distinction between the native and the white population and refrained with direct contacts with them. Works Cited Harrell, David Edwin, Gaustad, Edwin S. , Boles, John B. , Griffith, Sally Foreman, Miller Randall M. , Woods, Randall B. “Unto a Good Land: A History of the American People Volume 1 to 1900” WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2005,

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