Spain’s interest in exploration was due to the persistence of Columbus, the vision of one man. Columbus’s encounters in 1492 with Ferdinand and Isabella and the Caribbean islands transformed the history of the world and made Spain the most important European power for more than a century. The Spanish monarchs created a distinctively Spanish colonial society that conquered and killed Native Americans, built new institutions, and extracted great wealth.
However the colonial efforts did not always see Spaniards and Indians fighting each other all the time. They had to achieve ways of co-existing in their interactions that produced changes in their daily lives. The Spanish colonial effort produced a dietary revolution in the Old World. Potatoes, corn, tomatoes, squash, etc, unknown in Europe, enriched people’s diets, improving their health and allowing them to live longer. This change is known as the Columbian exchange. (research)
Both England and France hurried to stake their claims to the newly discovered lands. In 1497, King Henry VII of England sent John Cabot to look for a “Northwest Passage” a mythical water route cutting across North America creating a shorter route to Asia and allowing that country to monopolize on the Asian trade.
The French purpose of explorations was to find gold and also to locate the “Northwest Passage” To the early French explorers North America was little more than a barrier to be crossed, not a promising site for settlement or exploitation.
Northwest Passage, a mythical water route that was to cut across North America giving the Europeans a shorter route to China and the Asian trade. France claimed the largest amount of real estate in the New World by searching for the passage even though they never found it.
French efforts to establish settlements in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia failed, because of native resistance and inadequate planning and financing. Not until the 17th century would France and England establish permanent settlements in North America. The most interesting French explorer was Samuel de Champlain, you might want to research and mention him in your second post. France’s success was in the fur trade.
Jamestown: Business venture or new beginnings?
Jamestown was a huge undertaking. Creating a settlement to begin with takes lots of planning and money. The English, being a strong, unified and proud people had considerable unrealistic expectations of how to build a new colony in a relatively unexplored land. The expectation that this land would benefit them like the Spanish provided quite a shock when they found very few of these things. The antagonizing of the Powhatan Indians did little to further their interests in the area. Optimistically, they gave themselves a 7 year goal to get the colony established.
What they established was a business organization.
1. Sold shares
2. Received contributions
3. Organized lotteries to raise necessary funds (powerball 🙂
4 …and engaged in a full-scale advertising campaign to sell the potential glories of the land.
5. It took months for supplies from England to reach Jamestown.
Who were these people that arrived in Jamestown, colonists? Webster defines "colonists": an inhabitant of or settler in a colony; a member of a colonizing expedition. They were "indentured servants" what voice did they have when they arrived? These Englishmen who first arrived in Virginia agreed to work for the Virginia Company for between 5 – 7 years. If they found any gold or silver it would have belonged to the company. There was an incentive, those who signed on as indentured servants also received 1 (one) share in the company with the potential of receiving a dividend. These people (employees) put their trust in the Virginia Company. The indentured servants did not have a say so in running Jamestown (what political system, dictatorship?)
In conclusion "success" can be described the following way. European merchants funneled into the America’s and the Native population an inventory of manufactured goods that included steel axes and knives, iron and copper kettles, spoons, fishhooks, needles and thread. Indian peoples accepted European goods because they made life easier, more comfortable, warmer, and more pleasurable. Scissors and metal knives aloowed Indian women to fashion traditional clothing from hides and skins with greater ease and precision. Steel hatches surpassed stone axes, this exchange produced a success for the world. Here I am looking at "success" in economic terms.
Second post: Interest equals success?
Let’s remember that both England and France showed only occasional interest in America before 1560. The Spanish had little interference from other Europeans in exploring and settling the rest of the New World. By the 1540’s Spanish expansion slowed throughout America. Without discovery of precious metal Spain had little immediate reason to push farther into North America. The Spanish did find other wealth in the America they colonized. I have added a link about this new wealth that I think you will find interesting.
My wife defines success during the period this way 🙂 History of Chocolate (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
a) In the 16th century the New World gave to Spain Chocolate, 17th century the New World gave to England tobacco.
I did mention in my first post the Colombian Exchange that Spain successfully introduced livestock (cattle, pigs and sheep) that diversified cultures across continents. The wild horses you see in Arizona are a gift from the conquistadors who left them behind during this period.
The French discovered the Indian people of the northern part of the New World. The contacts between the French and natives took a different approach based on commerce rather than conquest. Trade flourished immediately and the Indians appreciated the usefulness of items like textiles, glass, copper and ironware. Cartier showed an interest in fur coats of the Indians. Fur became France’s economic wealth as tobacco will become for the English. The reason why fur will give traders wealth in the fur trade is because Europeans had depleted their wild game increasing the price of furs beyond the reach of most people. The North American trade filled an important demand and produced high profits. By the 17th century the French monopolized the northern fur trade.
We should also consider France’s dominance of the St. Lawrence which was a great waterway leading directly into the heart of the continent and it provided the French with enormous geographic and political advantage.
Here are some ideas to think about when answering this question on England:
1. Was this a colony or a business venture?
2. Look at the original expedition does this have anything to do with early failure? The original expedition numbered 105 persons (three ships) of whom we have the names of 67. Of the 67, 29 were listed as "gentlemen."
The rest listed by occupation:
1 preacher, 4 carpenters, 12 laborers, 1 surgeon, 1 blacksmith, 1 banker, 2 bricklayers, 1 mason, 1 tailor and remainder made up of jewelers, refiners and goldsmiths. What is missing and should have been in numbers?
5. What was expected of these people and who were they?
6. What role did technology play?
The basic objectives in establishing Virginia:
1. To exploit mineral resources (what in their information told them there were natural resources? They saw the Spanish success and wanted to duplicate)
2. Search for the "Northwest Passage," water route that was to cut across North America creating a shorter time to Asia. France will try for 150 years without results.
3. Monopolize on the local trade (you have to make friends first before becoming partners) how important was the marriage of Pocahontas?