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Lecture 1

HIST 2055 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Puritans, Spanish Empire, Starving Time

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HIST 2055

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2. Compare and contrast the colonial experiences of the English with the
French, Dutch, and Spanish in the Western Hemisphere.
The early 1600s sparked the beginning of colonization in Americas. The
European nations of England, Spain, the Netherlands, and France established
colonies that each had its own unique culture, law and way of life.
Following close behind Columbus’s journey to the new world, Spain was
the first European country to settle in the Americas. The Spanish invasion was
quite rapid, in 1508 Spain sent around 50 ships to the Caribbean islands. Cuba,
Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico were the stepping stones into all of the Americas.
At the height of their conquest, Spain held ten times as much land as their
homeland in Europe. The conquistadors were often accused of brutality. The
Black Legend was based on the writings of Las Casas, a bishop who detailed
atrocities he had witnessed while in Latin America. The English used his writings
as negative propaganda against the Spain. Spain not only desired land and riches,
but also to convert and “save” the Indians who they thought were “savages” with
no religion. The Spaniards unknowingly killed thousands of Indians with diseases
that the natives had no immune against. In 1519, Cortez led armed soldiers into
the Aztec empire to overthrow it. Spaniards were appalled at the Aztecs religion
which included human sacrifice. The destruction of the Aztec empire was one
many such tragedies, the same happened to the Inca and Mayan empires. The
Spanish missionaries forced the catholic religion on natives. The Spanish
conquest of central and South America made the Spanish empire very rich. In the
1540s, the Spanish conquest entered North America. Spanish didn’t try to set up a
colony in North America again until 1590. This time the main goal was
converting Indians into catholic followers of the king.
The English colony of Jamestown was establishing in 1607 but it endured
much hardship in its early years; the winter of 1609, the starving time, nearly
wiped out the entire town. However, tobacco helped the small town stay alive.
Jamestown also set up the House of Burgesses which was the first representation
government set up in North America. Other early English colonies included the
pilgrims of Plymouth in 1620 and the Puritans who established several
settlements in Mass. The settlers in English colonies governed themselves through
town meetings. Most of these people became farmers or small business owners. In
1670 colonist became less interested in religion, and more interested in growing
their businesses. English colonist captured the Dutch settlement of New
Amsterdam in 1664 and changed its name to New York. The Quakers, another
group of English colonist, settled in PA, the establish Philly as their capitol. By
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