~ U.S. History Notes ~
(Struggle for N. American control during Colonial times, American Indian conflict & cooperation)
In pursuit of sailing to Asia, for spice trade and other riches, Columbus convinced the Spanish monarchy to
fund voyages in search of a expedient route.
This would be the first of many to find a quick “passage” to Asia,
all in vain.
Without knowing it Columbus discovered the new world in 1492, landing in the Caribbean.
Amerigo Vespucci also led voyages for Spain resulting in the discovery of Brazil and Venezuela.
of his ‘new world’ derived the name America.
Spain’s interests in the Americas went beyond exploration, rather with the aim of conquering territories and
colonizing, often on religious grounds.
Spain used its powerful army of conquistadores, such as Cortes, to
conquer the lands in the New World.
Cortes destroyed the Aztecs in Mexico; Francisco Vazquez de
Coronado followed, leading an expedition through New Mexico in southern California.
Onate claimed this
territory for Spain.
The Spaniards employed Indian slave labor, forced conversions of Christianity upon them,
and maintained a poor relationship with Indians, resulting in what would become over 400 years of conflict
with white settlers.
This was known as the encomienda system.
The French focused heavily on trade of furs, including trading with Indians.
In 1608 a trading post was
established in Quebec by Samuel de Champlain.
Established alliances with the Indian tribes, particularly the
Algonquin, creating an ally against the powerful Iroquois.
Nevertheless, this would establish France’s North
American fur-trading empire for the next 125 years.
In search of the Pacific to head west to Asia, Louis Joliet
and Jacques Marquette discovered the Mississippi River, establishing France’s claim to ‘Louisiana”, a large
expanse of land between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains.
Although France claimed vast tracts of land,
they failed to adequately colonize them.
The Dutch were also traders, and established their beachhead on Manhattan Island, purchased from the
Indians in 1624 and established profitable trade with the Indians, much like the French.
Much the French, the
Dutch were better at trade than settlement; New Amsterdam fell to the British with little resistance and
became New York.
England was also searching for the N.W. Passage, but Queen Elizabeth I wanted the British Empire to spread
to other lands, enlisting Sir Humphrey Gilbert, then later Sir Walter Raleigh, to colonize the new world.
Raleigh coined what would become the Carolinas “Virginia” after the Queen and founded the first colony for
the British, Roanoke Island.