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Colonialism in North America Essay

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Updated: Dec 27th, 2018

Colonialism in North America started in the 15th century, soon after Christopher Columbus discovered the continent in 1480. Actual colonization started in 1492 when Spanish colonizers started expanding their territories by forcing the native communities out of their ancestral land, and killing thousands in the process. Some of the objectives of the first European settlers in America were to increase their wealth, and, as well, increase political and military influence.

According to Middleton and Lombard (2011), most of the first European settlers were entrepreneurs and retired military personnel, who came to the country with vast military experiences and succeeded in subduing the natives. However, it was not until the 17th century that England established dominance in the continent. One of the first colonies was at Jamestown in 1607, with others rising up in Massachusetts and New York.

Britain started increasing the number of slaves to work in their fields and by 1770, there were more than 2 million residents working in England’s 13 American colonies. With the new formed colonies and free labor from the slaves, Great Britain expanded its output in agriculture and industrial development. The industrial expansion led to industrial revolution that culminated with the fight for independence (Middleton and Lombard 2011).

The demand for raw materials to support the growing industry brought about a change in the way in which people organized themselves. The divide between the rich and the poor widened. As a direct result of capitalism, the rich oppressed the poor by forcing them into deplorable working and living conditions.

The wages were low and the workers worked in hostile environments. Land adjudication only profited the rich. For instance, the growing textile industry required a lot of wool to support it. In which case, the rich appropriated the hitherto common land farms and made them into “enclosures” (capitalist farms) forcing out the peasants into slums. They then used the land for sheep production.

This was very different from the original ownership of land, which was communal. The capitalistic nature of land possession led to an increase in food production since big owners of land could employ technology in food production. This put a lot of food on the table leading to higher population growths. Even then, these people still lived in slums around the industrially productive areas providing cheap labor to support the industry growth (Middleton and Lombard 2011).

How the Indigenous People Reacted To Colonization

The colonial conquests greatly affected the indigenous Indian community of North America. While some colonizers approached them in a friendly manner, most of the colonial powers from Europe were very hostile and could forcefully acquire land from the natives, leaving thousands hurt and others dead.

Resistance against the colonizers was mainly through political rebellions, the most popular being the Pueblo rebellion, which took part in 1680 (Middleton and Lombard 2011). The rebellion was against the Spaniards and culminated with the death of more than 400 colonizers and this forced the Spaniards to terminate their interest in the region. The reaction to colonization in North America was, therefore, through rebellions and protests against oppression and illegal acquisition of ancestral land.

References

Middleton, R., & Lombard, A. (2011). Colonial America: A History to 1763. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Roberts, A., & Garton, T. A. (2009). Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. London, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Wade, R. A. (2005). The Russian Revolution, 1917. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2018. "Colonialism in North America." December 27, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/colonialism-in-north-america/.

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IvyPanda. (2018) 'Colonialism in North America'. 27 December.

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