How did Spanish patterns of settlement in the New World differ from those of the English, Dutch, and the French?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The Spanish, French, British, and Dutch all had settlements in North America. There were some significant differences between the settlements of each group.

The Dutch had limited colonial exposure in North America. They were located in the Hudson Valley from 1609-1664. They focused mainly on trade. There were some conflicts with the Native Americans and with the British. Eventually, the British got control of the Dutch colony of New Netherland in 1664.

The British had significant success in North America. They focused on establishing permanent settlements. There were many conflicts with the Native Americans. The economy of the colonies varied by region. In the South, there was a lot of farming. In New England, manufacturing and fishing were important activities. Some colonies had a significant amount of religious freedom. People in the colonies were generally able to govern themselves.

The French colonies were very slow growing. They didn’t offer religion freedom. People who wanted to settle in the French colonies had to be Catholic. The people had no political freedom. The French had a very good relationship with the Native Americans. They traded with them, married them, and sometimes converted them to Christianity.

The Spanish viewed their colonies as a way to find wealth. The Spanish were interested in getting as many minerals from their colonies as possible. They had poor relations with the Native Americans. The Spanish worked to convert people to Christianity. Because they only accepted Christians and had poor relations with the Native Americans, the Spanish colonies grew slowly. The people also had no political freedom.

There were significant differences between the colonies of the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British.

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saintfester's profile pic

saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Spanish, English, French and Dutch all had a different methods of colonization in the New World.

The Spanish came to conquor and exploit the weath that already existed. They detroyed the large empires that existed, took their wealth back to Spain and enslaved the remained population to mine and grow more lucrative trade products for them. They also attempted to expand the Spanish Empre by forcably converting the natives peoples to Christianity.

The French realized that they could get more from their colonization efforts by creating partnerships with the natives. French trappers would trade goods to native tribes for valuable furs. They did little settling and even less conversion because they didn't want to upset their trade relationships with the tribes. 

The English sought to set up permemant settlements along the Atlantic Coast. Some were set up by religious seperatists, businesses partnerships, or people who were owned lots of land by the English King. The English found that crops like tobacco and indigo grew very well and made lots of money off of them. 

The Dutch weren't in the New World very long before their settlements were taken over by the English, but they did set up trading posts to get in on the fur trade.

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The Spanish method of settlement differed from those of the other European powers because they established a formal system, called encomiendas, by which they forced Native Americans into labor. In this system, conquistadors forced Native Americans into labor in return for a promise to protect them and Christianize them. In effect, Spanish conquistadors enslaved native people and took away their land in an effort to extract as much gold from the New World as possible.

While the English were often brutal toward Native Americans and also took away their lands, they did not have a formal system for doing so and were at times able to coexist with native people until competition for land made them more hostile. The French, who came to the New World in smaller numbers, often coexisted with Native Americans in the areas they claimed, including along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. They sometimes intermarried with Native Americans and cooperated with them in trapping furs. The Dutch initially had amiable relations with Native Americans until the Dutch desire for land and fur caused conflict with native people. The Dutch often traded alcohol for the furs that the Native Americans trapped. 

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