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The history of the colonialism in America focuses primarily on theinvasion of England, France and Spain. Each of these countriesworked tirelessly to gain control over large tracts of land. One ofthe major reasons that these countries went to America was toscramble for resources and develop their economies by sending backthe earned capital back home. The individual governments employeddistinct colonial approaches to further their mandate. The differentapproaches determined the activities that they engaged in, the formof governance as well as interaction with the local communities. Thetwo countries used varied methods that created a new society.

Spain used representatives who acted on behalf of the crown, and theyfollowed the rule of the king from their motherland. They did nothave outright authority to act independently.1The English colonialists, on the other hand, were more independentthan their Spanish counterparts. The Englishmen could make minordecisions independently without having to consult the king2. This paper will look at the differences between the English andSpanish settlement din the new world. It will also look at thejustifications used by the two countries while establishing theirempires as well s their varied attitudes and treatments towards theNative Americans.

First, the initiative to establish the two nations followed differentpatterns. The Spanish settlements were a result of thecrown-sponsored conquests to gain wealth and expand the Spanishterritory. The crown made major decisions through representatives andidentified the viable areas that would be easy to control concerningthe military and economic power of the country.3The crown played an important role since the government`s mode ofcolonization was the use of force and imposed societal changes. Thesecould not be left to the control of the representatives in case ofpolitical implications in the country. The crown would conceive anyrepercussions of the expeditions without putting the blame on therepresentatives. The Spanish went to America as conquerors andestablished an indefinite control over the locals. Their idea was tocreate a home away from their motherland.

The policies followed in the settlements were a direct imposition bythe crown through an autocracy form of governance. On the otherhand, the idea to establish control of new settlements by the Englishgovernment was out of an indirect decision by the king.4The representative in America could make autonomous decisions andinform the king and his advisors on their efforts. A special teamreferred to as the royal charter settled on the decisions on theimportant lands to occupy and how to approach the citizens.

Secondly, there was a difference in the geographical settlement thetwo countries. The English colonies extended Virginia andMassachusetts and later to the Atlantic coast. They spread from Maineto Georgia and along the Mississippi River. The form of settlementhad a strong rationale for the countries interests. The Englishmenidentified the most productive areas since they were after theprofits accrued from tobacco and sugarcane farming. On the otherhand, the Spanish counterparts extended their settlements to sectionsof Californian coast, Florida, New Mexico and Texas.5

They targeted these lands since they were more developed in terms ofresources than the parts occupied by the French and England. Thecrown had the sole intention of depriving the locals of theirresources and sending them back to his country. Therefore, hisrepresentatives targeted the available resources since this was aprospect for continued production of resources to feed the homeindustries. They implemented a forceful labor on these settlements tomaintain the production while imposing the Spanish way of life to thelocals. The Spaniards engaged in mass lootings of gold, silver andother expensive valuables in their settlements and shipped them backhome. The trend continued up to the seventeenth century, as Spanishships were famous for their invaluable trips back home from theirforeign settlements.6

Another difference that marked the English and Spanish territoriesinvolved the power given to the locals in governing themselves andmaking decisions. The royal charter designated duties ofrepresentation to people residing within the territories. Althoughonly the whites could represent a territory, it was a form ofexercised representative democracy as it happened in their homecountry. Some of the people who owned plantation included affiliatesof the royal family and, therefore, the rule instituted had to be inthe interests of the whites. During the voting for representatives,the majority determined the officeholders. The idea of white malesvoting reflected the practice of the typical English territory. Forexample, the colonies in Pennsylvania were a consequent decision of agroup of people but not a direct decision by the king.7They operated under the representation of an elected office withoutthe interference of the royal charter.

A sharp contrast existed between the Spanish and the Englishcolonies. The policies to set up and control a colony were theultimate domain of the crown. The approach embraced by his mendeprived the locals of any effort to establish a self-rule, and theydid not put into consideration their unique needs. All the proceduresof governance emanated from the crown and its effects trickled downto the local. For this reason, they conquered and exercised a heavyhand upon the locals. The form representative democracy observed inthe English settlement could not function in a mode of rule wherebyall the policies were impositions of one institution. That is thecrown.

Another major different that ensued during this period was thephysical settlement pattern that the two countries encouraged. TheSpanish colonialists regulated everything from trade to the patternof housing. The crown decreed that the colonial villages were to havea Spanish face trough the Law of the Indies passed in 1573.8It required the town center sit on a five and a half acre piece ofland with a military or government institution on one end and achurch on the other. The settlements also had sheet barricades andfields for farming and grazing extended beyond the walls. There wasa slight variance with a typical English settlement whereby theplantation model of settlements dominated. In this approach, aplantation housed its workers without putting them in concentrationfacilities.

Spanish territories had a lot of mines than the English territories.Therefore, farming was not the only major economic activity andtherefore, the idea of a plantation was not sustainable. When theroyal charter identified viable territories, they hoped to findminerals like their Spanish counterparts but they resulted in farmingas the best option. Since the locals had already found good use ofthe mines, the crown wanted to have total control of the resourcesand e only way to achieve the goal was to establish an autocraticcontrol.9All the minerals found their way back to Spain and the crown handsput the locals back to work.

Secondly, the English did not have to use a forced approach togovernance since they did not rely on the Amerindians to work ontheir plantations. Cultivating tobacco was an intensive occupationand the settlers engaged the African slaves to attend their farms.Since they were slaves far away from their motherlands, they couldonly offer negligible resistance. The rationale behind the Spanishheavy and is bcaue3 they considered the Africans too savage to workin their mines and lands. They forced the Amerindians to work forthem since they considered ten to be more productive than the Africanslaves. Also, each country transferred its practices to their newland. The representative democracy in England could not beoverlooked in the New England since a significant number of Englishsettlers owned the plantations. The crown extended his authority tohis new settlement, and he was the sole source of directions.10

The justifications given by the Spanish for colonizing the new landswas the decree they derived from the pope’s directive of declaringSpain as the vicar of God. Spain wanted to extend Catholicism to itsnew territories to act as God’s representatives especially the newAmerica. The justification further goes to include the right toprotect the converts from the affliction of the non-believers. TheSpanish had to exercise control to prevent them from being killed. The English also had a fairy the same premises to occupying newlands.11They wanted to spread Christianity in the new lands. However, thetransition could not be successful if the local people continued withtheir culture. The use of force and control was, therefore, necessaryto alienate the people for their practices and streamline them toChristianity.

The relationship that existed between the locals and the twocountries was also different. The original relationship establishedby the Englishmen and the Amerindians was a friendly one. Thecolonialists relied on the help of the natives for their tradeventure and traveling. The Amerindians had a wealth of knowledge onthe arable lands and the best internal trade roots. However, as thesettlers increased, greed for land led to scrambling for theavailable productive lands and slaves. As a result, they did notspare the locals from acquiring their land by force and forcing themto work.

Their Spanish counterparts on the other had come to the New Spainwith a prejudicial perception that the Amerindians were heathens whoneed an immediate transformation to Catholicism. The crown soldiersperceived them as fit for killing and subjection to force. For thisreason, all the Spanish settlements observed the Catholic faith andthe ruthlessness of the crown soldiers dominated.12

In conclusion, Spain and England employed different approaches toestablishing settlements in America. The Spanish used unquestionableforce, and they mostly concentrated in mining and sending the yieldsback to their motherland. The New England reflected therepresentative mode of governance, and they put up plantations fromthe lands they acquired from the locals. Both countries justifiedtheir actions with the claim of spreading religion into the newkinds. The use of force was necessary to alienate the locals fromtheir culture. Spaniards viewed the Amerindian as heathens andsubjected them to a harsh rule. He Europeans were initially friendly,but the shortage of land led to the exercise of force on the locals.


Foner, Eric. Give me liberty!: An American History Vol. 4.New York: WW Norton, 2005.

1 Eric, Foner. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. (New York: WW Norton, 2005). P. 4

2 Foner, 4

3 Foner, 5

4 Foner, 6

5 Foner, 9

6 Foner, 11

7 Foner, 13

8 Foner, 5

9 Foner, 17

10 Foner, 29

11 Foner, 34

12 Foner, 33