Compare and contrast Spanish and British colonization efforts in North America prior to 1763. Prior to 1763, both Spanish and British colonization efforts expanded into various regions of North America. In less than a century, from 1625 to 1700, the movements of peoples and goods from Europe to North America transformed the continent. Native Americans either resisted or accommodated the newcomers depending on the region of the colony. Though the English colonies were by far the most populous, within the English colonies, four distinct regions emerged.
While planters or merchants grew in power in each English colony, Spanish colonists, with far fewer colonists, depended more on friendly relations with Native Americans to secure their safety than did the English. Most Spanish colonists not connected to the government or military resided in the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico. By 1700 there were clear differences between the societies and economies of the three colonial powers in North America. The achievements of Spain on the North American mainland contrasted starkly with those of Britain.
More lightly populated by Europeans, their colonies were more dependent on Native Americans for their survival. Despite their mercantilist orientations, Spain didn’t profit significantly by colonizing mainland North America. Disregarding the wealth and progress of British America, the colonies were rife with tensions of their own. In some areas, vast discrepancies in the distribution of wealth and opportunities fostered a rebellious spirit among whites who were less well off.
Not only did the English colonies have deep-seated religious and ideological divisions, they too had depths of racial antagonisms. However, both the Spanish and British formed their separate colonies in distinctly different methods. The Spanish, as they colonized earlier than the English, had a different approach to colonizing in North America and acted differently toward those indigenous people who had inhabited the region prior to themselves. One of the biggest distinctions between the Spanish and British was their political ruling of the region at the time.
Although both the Spanish and British had major colonizing efforts in North America prior to 1763 and they both had similar pursuits in that they had varying economic goals, religious objectives, and some form of governing by their host countries. The British colonization efforts in North America prior to 1763 were economically, demographically, and politically different than those of the Spanish and these differences ultimately led to their greater success.
A major distinction between the Spanish and British colonization efforts in North America were their contrasting economic situations both in the colonies and in their home countries. As the Spanish had discovered large deposits of gold and silver early on, their economic stand point changed immensely since obtaining such gold and silver lead to inflation. Inflation rose to such gross levels that Spain had to trade with the French and British in order to remain a colonizing power.
While both the English and Spanish followed mercantilist principles, the English swayed in a different method into maintaining a strong economic power at the time. The English had successfully invested into a commercial economy in which the merchant class held the majority of the wealth of which they would invest a large amount back into the economy. Since the English were initially successful economically, the colonies became an incentive to continue sending settlers and continue investing in the colonies, unlike the Spanish who had no such incentive.
Though both the Spanish and British had lead their colonization efforts with intentions to benefit economically through their ventures, the English and Spanish differed in the level of economic benefits each mercantilist economies gained as the English maintained a beneficial economical profit, which was sustainable for a longer period of time. This leads to another major distinction between the Spanish and British colonization efforts in North America, which was their major demographic differences.
The English had a much larger population in their colonies than the Spanish, in fact, in 1700; there was a total population of 250,000 in the English colonies compared to 4,500 in the Spanish. A larger population in the colonies meant there was more manpower for work and, in addition, a greater wealth development. This led to a greater distinction between the English and the Spanish, which was the mass level by which slaves were used in colonial society. The Spanish too had similar ways of acquiring cheap labor services by establishing the Encomienda system.
This system, unlike the English, exploited the Indians for personal profits rather than slaves imported from Africa. As English colonies, particularly in the south, focused on establishing an agrarian society; the Spanish did not focus as much on maintaining an agriculture based society. In marked contrast to England’s compact, densely populated settlements on the Atlantic, Spain established far-flung inland networks of fortified trading posts and missions. Unlike the English, they were unable to attract large numbers of colonists, and thus enlisted Native Americans as trading partners and military allies.
The Catholic nation had far greater success in converting natives to Christianity than their Protestant counterpart. By 1700, Spanish missionaries, traders, and soldiers were spreading their influence beyond the range of England’s colonies; to what is now the American Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest. Unlike the English colonies in the Northeast, Spanish colonization in North America after 1625 expanded upon the two bases established earlier in New Mexico and Florida. Both colonies remained small and weak through the seventeenth century.
With few settlers however, they needed ties with friendly Native Americans in order to obtain land, labor, and security. But Spanish policies made friendly relations hard to come by in both colonies. The English however were far more self-ruling and therefore continued to expand. English expansion threatened Florida, while the French establishment of Louisiana defied Spain’s hope of one day linking that colony with New Mexico. Like the Spanish, the English also had difficulties with the French in the north which eventually led to the Seven Years’ War in 1756.
And although the Spanish and English encountered the similar situations when colonizing North America, the English were far more successful because of their population advantage. Lastly, the British were more successful in colonizing North America prior to 1763 than the Spanish because of their differences in political jurisdiction. As the Spanish governed their colonies from Spain, communication with the colonies was never fully effective and often colonists weren’t cooperative with the king’s ruling.
As the Spanish obtained profit from their colonies and then used their profits to then rule their colonies, the colonies were limited and couldn’t expand to their full potentials. The English colonies, on the other hand, though over ruled by a similar monarchy in their home country like the Spanish, had individual representative form of government in the colonies themselves which brought ease to possible expansion and for the most part was more relevant to the colonists that inhabited the land.
Additionally, the Spanish were governing the land in order to spread Catholicism while the English colonized to escape persecution and rather gave rise to four distinct religions rather than spread the beliefs of one individual one. This also led to the interactions between the colonists and the Native Americans, as the Spanish were forced to have families due to the lack of women and then separate into social classes to avoid interactions with the mestizo.
The political differences between the English and the Spanish were a major reason for the greater success of the English over the Spanish in North America. Both the British and the Spanish directed their colonization efforts in North America in distinctly different ways. Though the Spanish did colonize earlier than the English, forming St. Augustine in Florida, their methods to maintain their colony were different than the English.
Though both the Spanish and British had major colonizing efforts in North America prior to 1763 and they both had similar pursuits in that they had varying economic goals, religious objectives, and some form of governing by both host countries. The British colonization efforts in North America prior to 1763 were economically, demographically, and politically different than those of the Spanish and these differences led them to greater success. Developing and maintaining these colonies allowed the English to pressure the Spanish out of North America and eventually become the most dominate of all colonizing forces.
Additionally, the English dominance gave the colonies an opportunity to succeed from their colonial rule and be well enough situated to become an independent country and develop into the Americas it is today. Works Cited: Boyer, Paul et al. “The Enduring Vision. ” Cengage Learning. 6e. Houghton Mifflin Company. 5 Jul. 2011 . Nosotro, Rit. “The Long-Term Effects of Colonization in the Americas. ” HyperHi 5 Jul. 2011 . Unknown. “The Spanish Colonization of America. ” 5 Jul. 2011 .