European Exploitation In The New World

2133 words - 9 pages

As European civilization progressed, the Western European countries discovered the need for raw materials to compete in Europe's developing capitalist economy. This new competition drove European nations to sponsor voyages of exploration and colonization to generate income. Spain, Britain and France were the Western European countries which began establishing empires in the Americas; competing to become Europe's wealthiest nation, through the exploitation of the lands and its inhabitants of the New World. Colonial empires stimulated European economies and expanded European trade and wealth. European nations controlled empires in various forms consisting of the Spanish who held strict control over Natives. Secondly, the French created fur trading empires with the Natives, endangering the animals of the New World. Finally, The English established colonies populated by migrants from Europe and slaves from Africa and pushed natives further west. These Western European nations subjugated Native Americans and permanently changed their life style by utilizing their resources and goods for the betterment of their own nations.Spain made much of its wealth from the Americas, enslaving the Natives and plundering the New World of its resources. The Spanish initiated colonialism in the New World after Christopher Columbus "discovered" it for the European nations in 1492 when he accidentally landed on a Caribbean island while searching for a westward sea-route to the Asian Indies. "But in truth, should I meet with gold or spices in great quantity, I shall remain till I collect as much as possible, and for this purpose I am proceeding solely in quest of them." (Columbus, 1494) Not only did Columbus seize goods from the new land to take back to Spain; such as cacao beans, flint axes, pottery, and cotton garments, but he also enslaved the natives of the New World and forced them to mine for gold and silver. During his short reign as governor of the newly discovered territories, Columbus even tried to sell Native Americans as slaves in Spain. "Two expeditions led directly to Spain's emergence as sixteenth-century Europe's wealthiest and most powerful nation." (History Study Center, 1991) In 1519, Conquistadors led by Hernando Cortes conquered the Aztec empire in present-day Mexico, seizing the Aztec's gold and silver mines. The Natives were unable to resist the Spanish invasion primarily due to the fact that they were not immune to the European diseases such as measles, plague, and smallpox, resulting in the deaths of millions. In the next decade, Spain expanded its empire over the Inca in Peru and the Mia civilization of Mesoamerica. The Inca silver mines of Potosi were also acquired. After conquering the Aztec and Inca empires, conquistadors claimed the land for Spain and soon settlements were established. Spanish conquistadors received large areas of land called "encomiendas." The "encomenderos" could tax and control the labor of the indigenous people whom...

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