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Issues Of Early American Settlement Essay

1578 words - 6 pages

In the early settlement of America, disease and forced labor played a significant role. In the Spanish colonies from Florida and Southward, smallpox took an enormous toll on the conquerors and the native peoples. The so-called “black legend” regarding the Spanish and Portuguese was actually somewhat true, but also somewhat misleading. The concept held that “the conquerors merely butchered or tortured the Indians (‘killing for Christ’), stole their gold, infected them with smallpox, and left little but misery behind.” (Kennedy, p. 23) All of this was actually true – but that wasn’t all the conquerors did, and is therefore the error of the “black legend”. The Spanish and Portuguese conquerors built an enormous empire that spanned two continents. It was not just bad traits that they brought with them – they brought good things too, like culture. Soon, their culture would be integrated into the native societies, including the conquerors’ language, laws, and religion.

Later, during English colonization of the Eastern seaboard, disease played a large roll in the South – disease was apt to grow rampant in the warmer climes. As far as development, growing the economy through the means available (namely tobacco) meant that more labor would be needed. The Native Americans did not prove to be reliable labor because they mostly died when having come in contact with diseases their immunities were unprepared to conquer. Indentured servitude became commonplace, since slaves were then too expensive and England had a surplus of displaced farmers. By the end of the 18th century, around 100,000 indentured servants had been brought to the region by Chesapeake landowners. (Kennedy, p. 67)

The founding of the New England Colonies in comparison to the Middle Colonies is like night and day - as night and day are still upon the same Earth, so the differences between the founding of the Northern and Middle Colonies are upon the same premise: religion. The New England colonies came into being by way of the Puritans in the 17th century – indirectly by way of the Protestant Reformation, and the subsequent break of the United Kingdom with the Catholic Church. A group of Puritans called the Separatists from Holland boarded the Mayflower headed for America by way of the Virginia Company of England, only to have missed their destination. They arrived off the coast of New England in 1620. (Kennedy p. 44) The climate was so inhospitably cold, that less than half of the surviving crew of the Mayflower actually survived the first winter. New England then began to become populated with Dutch and English settlers.
“Whereas English immigration to the Chesapeake was spread over nearly a century, most English voyagers to New England arrived within a single decade.” (Kennedy, p. 51)
The Dutch funneled into New Amsterdam, which became New York after England won a battle with the Dutch. It was the Dutch who purchased Manhattan Island from the...

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