Module2 - MODULE 2: PARADIGMS OF SETTLEMENT By the...

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MODULE 2: PARADIGMS OF SETTLEMENT By the seventeenth century, the three major imperial powers of Europe— England, Spain, and France—had begun to invest vigorously in the New World. Each pursued the settlement of the Americas for different reasons and through different methods, and while each contributed decisively to the evolving cultures of both the new and old worlds, the motives behind the colonial projects of each nation shaped the character of the settlements each created. What’s more, not every attempt at colonization succeeded; those that did generally exhibited certain common features that made the prospects for long-term success increasingly likely. Let’s take a look at the approach the major powers took toward the New World, and how they created colonies that were built to last. CONTINENT IN THE BALANCE Just how competitive was the colonial enterprise, anyway? Our popular conceptions of the voyages of Columbus, Magellan, John Cabot, and others place these expeditions in a kind of historical vacuum, untouched by the influences of the world around them. In fact, the exact opposite was true: each of these expeditions contributed to an increasingly feverish and ruthless competition among the major European powers, and the stakes of the game could not have been higher: world QuickTime and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture.
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hegemony —the power to dictate the course of events in the civilized world (which, at the time, generally meant Europe). This was a three-way competition between England, France and Spain. Portugal, despite its early start in exploration, simply remained too small and too poor to keep up with its neighbors. The driving philosophy behind this competition was known as mercantilism , and it comprised several beliefs and objectives: The vitality of a nation was best expressed through economic strength; to that end, the economic resources of a nation- state must be subordinated to the state to serve its interests. The primary means by which to strengthen any nation’s economy was through the accumulation of gold and silver (specie) The amount of specie available in the world was fixed; the primary economic objective of every nation, therefore, was to accumulate as much of it as possible. This assumption rendered the colonial enterprise as a zero-sum game in which any gain by one power was necessarily viewed as a loss for another. Peaceful coexistence, in which each European nation had some gold and silver, was unthinkable; each nation had to have the most specie and prevent its competitors from discovering any , lest it lose international influence and prestige as a consequence. Colonies performed a dual role in this model: a source of raw materials for the parent country, and a market for the manufactured goods of the parent country. This prevented surpluses of finished goods in Europe that might
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drive retail prices down; whatever was left over was simply shipped to the colonists, who snapped them up as luxuries
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This note was uploaded on 07/08/2008 for the course HIST 2113 taught by Professor Motl during the Spring '08 term at Ouachita Baptist.

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Module2 - MODULE 2: PARADIGMS OF SETTLEMENT By the...

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