Christopher Columbus And The New World

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In the year of 1492, the Spanish monarchs funded Christopher Columbus on his voyage to what was later called “the New World,” initiating a race between European countries to send out explorers to become the continent’s dominating power. Driven by the promise of wealth, status, and new beginnings, explorers conquered the lands of North and South America, resulting in their direct disruption of the indigenous peoples’ lives. Following this contact, the lives of both Native Americans and Europeans were permanently transformed by the Europeans’ desire for wealth and need to spread and dominate through religion. While providing beneficial outcomes for Europeans, these motives ultimately incited the deterioration of once-thriving native civilizations …show more content…
Preceding contact with Europeans, Native Americans primarily based their economic systems on agriculture centered around community. However, through economic reconstruction, the fortune-driven Spanish and English implanted an economic system emphasizing personal gain that would ultimately lead to the downfall of native civilizations. The first Europeans to establish settlement in the Americas, the Spanish conquistadors viewed the natives solely as a means to fulfill their personal lust “to get rich,” as one of Cortez’s foot soldiers put it (Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey 19). This lust drove the Spanish to take advantage of native communities to establish a new economic system: encomienda. The new system allowed for the Spanish to have a labor force that would fuel the Spanish economy through its Native American slaves, who were forced to search for riches. A few decades later, conquistador Francisco Pizarro introduced currency to the Incas, which allowed him to collect large amounts of silver that skyrocketed the Spanish economy by 500%. This capitalistic economic system forced the natives to lose touch with their …show more content…
Upon contact in 1519, the Spanish sought to reform the Aztecs, whom they described as savages that “waged continual and ferocious war upon each other” and “[ate] human flesh” (Sepulveda). This belief of European supremacy, along with their savage image of Native Americans, allowed the Spanish to justify their mission of converting natives to Catholicism. In 1521 in Tenochtitlán, the Spanish burned down Aztecs’ temples to make way for Catholic cathedrals, for missionaries aimed to have the Aztecs, who practiced human sacrifice, “observe the Christian religion and correct their sins” (Las Casas). A few decades later in New Mexico, Spanish missionaries further suppressed native religions in order to convert masses of natives to Catholicism. The Puritans from England, in 1637, similarly took advantage of the negative perception of Native Americans to justify their brutal killing of the Pequot tribe when hostilities exploded. Pequot villages were burned down and the survivors were shot, virtually annihilating the tribe. After English critics bashed them, the Puritans made feeble efforts to convert the surviving natives to Christianity. In doing so, the English in the Old World shifted

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