World History notes 6.01.docx - Independence and Reform...

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Independence and Reform Where and When did Colonialism end in Latin America? For several hundred years, the major European countries engaged in colonialism “ a system under which nations set up colonies in faraway locations” and imperialism “ a system under which nations take over other countries, either by conquering them or by gaining control of their political and economic systems.” In 1800, almost all of Central and South America, as well as a large portion of North America, belonged to Spain. Brazil belonged to Portugal. All of the islands in the Caribbean belonged to Spain, France, Great Britain, or the Netherlands. But this was about to change, people in Latin America were inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment. They spurred on by the success of the American Revolution. They admired the ideals of the French Revolution. They were motivated by social inequality, economic injustice, and the desire to be free. Just a few years after the French Revolution, France was in chaos. Napoleon Bonaparte stepped in and made himself ruler of the country. Then, in 1806, he invaded Portugal. In 1807, he invaded Spain and forced King Ferdinand VII to abdicate. He proclaimed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte , the new king. The Spanish colonies saw the crisis in Europe as an opportunity to strike for their own freedom. What was the class system like? The Spanish began colonizing Latin America and the Caribbean at the very end of the 1400s. They quickly developed a rigid class system that remained unchanged in the early 1800s. In a strict class system such as this one, how people are treated, what rights they have, and what they can expect to do with their lives are all determined by the position in society that they are born into-who their parents are. Peninsulares : Europeans who had been born in Europe (Spain and Portugal make up the Iberian Peninsula, which is where the word comes from). They completely controlled the governments of colonies. Creoles : Europeans who had been born in the colonies and who owned most of the land, but they had no say in the government. They were second-class citizens, but at least they were citizens. Mestizos : People of mixed European and Indian ancestry who has no political rights, and few social or economic rights. Mulattos : People of mixed European and African ancestry who had no political rights and few social or economic rights. Indians : They had few if any, rights. Free Africans : Some slaves managed to gain their freedom, but once they did, they still had few if any rights. Slaves : These Africans were not considered to be people. They were property.
In this system, only peninsular and creoles were allowed to own land. Mestizos, mulattos, Indians, and free Africans were often hired as peons “ a person who does menial labor on a farm or elsewhere; often one who is unable to leave because of debt owed to the farmer or master”, doing farm work or other menial labor. Slaves were used as farmhands and servants, but they were also given the worst jobs to do, such as digging in the gold and silver mines.

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