European Expansionism in the New World

The Atlantic countries of Europe began to move to all parts of the world around 1500 and 1800. Portugal and Spain were the pacesetters as they were great colonial powers of the 16th Century. They were followed by the Dutch who constructed their empire in the 17th Century Portugal and Spain faced a downturn. In the 18th Century, the Dutch were challenged by the United Kingdom and the French. The two nations outstripped the others while at the same time became engaged in a bitter rivalry. Great Britain appeared to become great imperial power by the end of the 18th Century. The great impact was realized by European expansionism to both the conquered and the conquerors (Stannard 211). This paper discusses the impact of European expansionism in the New World which began in earnest during the early exploration period. The impacts discussed affected both the conquered and the conquerors.

Although Spain all of North America as part of its American empire, other nations largely ignored its claim. The Dutch were among the first to establish settlements on the Northern American territories in 1609. They proceeded to establish the mainland colony of New Netherlands which covered a big area of New York. The French and the British moved in the second half of the 17th Century which led to competition. Competition with the French and British and years of war resulted in the decline of the Dutch commercial empire. The colony of New Netherlands was seized by the United kingdom in 1664 and was renamed New York (Spielvogel 433). The English then went ahead and established their colonies in North America. They established their first settlements in Jamestown, in modern Virginia. The British had established control over most of the eastern seaboard of America. It established 13 colonies, that is, the British North American. It consisted of a thick population that was highly prosperous. The North American colonies together with Indian colonies provided raw materials for Britain while buying the latter’s manufactured products. The UK also had introduced Navigation Acts which regulated what could be taken from and sold to the colonies. This system provided the balance of trade that deliberately favored Britain. The French also formed an empire in North America. Cartier, the French greatest explorer discovered the Saint Lawrence River in 1534 and the French laid claim to Canada. They later established a settlement in Quebec in 1608 thus taking Canada as a colony. They administered the region autocratically as a trading area; where valuable furs, fish, leather, and timber were acquired. The French, however, were not able to move their people to the new territories which left its people thinly populated. The French Canadians were few by mid 18th century most of whom were hunters, missionaries, and explorers. The French were unable to provide people and resources, allowing their continental conflicts to override their North American continental conquests. As a result of the seven years of war with Britain, the French surrendered the rest of their Canadian lands to the English in 1763. The British and the French hostility were also evident in the Spanish and Portuguese colonial empires in Latin America. The Spanish and the Portuguese depended more on resources from their colonies due to their decline. They established stringent mercantile rules to keep other nations out. For instance, Spain tried to limit all trade with its colonies to ships belonging to Spain only. However, the French and the British were too powerful to be excluded by these two countries. The Portuguese were cajoled by the English into allowing them into the Brazilian business that was lucrative. The French, on the other hand, became the first to enter Spanish American market. The British entered later in 1713 when they were granted the privilege of transporting slaves into Spanish Latin America (Stannard 234).

In sum, European expansionism impacted greatly on the various populations present in the conquered territories. For instance, Native American civilizations had their distinguished values and levels of sophistication which were not appreciated by the Europeans; thus, ended virtually being destroyed. For instance, Columbus as the earliest explorer described his first contact with Native Americans and the new world as a ‘form of culture shock. They introduced European languages and writing to try to bring sense and order to their lives. In addition, European replaced their ancient social structures and political structures with their European institutions, religion, and culture. In Africa, the Europeans engaged in the slave trade which devastated the coastal areas. However, the European influence did not penetrate the African interior by 1800. On the other hand, the Portuguese areas in the east had a less direct impact on Native Asian civilization. The Dutch grip of the Indonesian archipelago was, however, more pervasive. During this period, China and Japan were less affected by European expansionism. Nevertheless, India was vulnerable to ever-growing United Kingdom encroachment (Spielvogel 432).

New civilization arose in Central and South America as a result of European expansionism. It resulted in the creation of a multiracial society. The native Indians and the Aztecs outnumbered the Spanish and Portuguese settlers. Many of the settlers were male and therefore used the native females for sexual pleasure and marriage. The African population was also introduced to Latin America as slaves to work in large plantations. Africans also contributed to this multiracial society. European expansionism also affected the ecology of the areas conquered. They introduced horses and livestock to the Americas. The Indian plains were revolutionalized by horses; later, Latin America became a great exporter of beef. The Europeans also introduced new crops such as sugar cane, wheat, and others to be cultivated in large plantations by natives and African slaves. During their expeditions to other parts of the world, the Europeans also carried new world crops with them. Thus, sweet potatoes and maize were introduced by Europeans to Africa (Spielvogel 433).

Works Cited

Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization. New York: Cengage Learning, 2008.

Stannard, David E. American Holocaust. Oxford: Oxford University, 1993.

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