Colonialism and colonization are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction between the two. Colonialism is a system in which a country or nation seeks to extend its power by acquiring territory or settling colonies in another land, while colonization is the actual process of settlement and establishment of political control. In North America, both the Spanish and British were engaged in colonialism and colonization prior to 1763.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to establish colonies in North America, with their settlements concentrated in present-day Mexico, Florida, and the Southwest. The English began colonizing North America in the 1600s, with their initial settlements located in present-day Virginia and Massachusetts. Ultimately, the British would come to dominate the entire eastern half of the continent, while the Spanish would control the western half.
There are a number of reasons why the British were more successful in colonizing North America than the Spanish. One reason was that the British had a greater financial and technological resources than the Spanish. The British also had a more favorable view of Native Americans than the Spanish did, which made it easier for them to form alliances and treaties with them. Additionally, the English colonies were more ethnically and religiously diverse than the Spanish colonies, which made them more resilient to internal divisions.
In spite of these advantages, there were also a number of challenges that the British faced in colonizing North America. One challenge was resistance from Native American tribes, who were often embroiled in conflicts with each other as well as with the colonists. Another challenge was the difficulty of governing such a large and geographically dispersed territory. This was compounded by the fact that communication between England and the colonies was slow and often unreliable.
Both Spanish and British colonies expanded into various areas of North America prior to 1763. From 1625 to 1700, the movements of people and goods from Europe to North America changed the continent in just a few decades. Depending on the region of settlement, Native Americans either fought or accepted the settlers.
The Spanish established their presence in the present-day southwestern United States, while the British colonies extended along the eastern seaboard. Although both groups increased their holdings in North America, they did so through different approaches to colonization.
The Spanish engaged in a policy of conquest and settlement, which entailed taking control of indigenous lands and forcibly converting Native Americans to Christianity. The Spanish also created large-scale ranching operations, known as haciendas, which displaced many Native Americans and led to conflict. In contrast, the British adopted a policy of Salutary Neglect towards their colonies, which allowed colonists more autonomy and resulted in a more gradual integration of indigenous peoples into colonial society. The British also encouraged private ownership of land, which led to the development of small farms and towns.
The different approaches to colonization had a major impact on the development of North America. The Spanish colonies were more centralized, with a strong presence of the Catholic Church and large estates controlled by a small elite. In contrast, the British colonies were more diverse, with a variety of religious groups and a more egalitarian social structure.
Although both the Spanish and British colonized North America, they did so through different methods that led to distinct outcomes. The Spanish focused on conquest and settlement, while the British adopted a policy of Salutary Neglect. These different approaches resulted in two very different types of colonies: centralized Spanish colonies with large estates controlled by a small elite versus decentralized British colonies with small farms and towns.
The English colonies, however, were by far the most populous. Within the English colonies, four distinct regions emerged, each with its own character. While planters and merchants grew in power in each English colony, Spanish settlers relied more on amicable relations with Native Americans to guarantee their safety than did the English. Most Spanish colonists who were not affiliated with the government or military resided in New Mexico’s Rio Grande valley.
The English colonies were born from the desire for wealth, land, power, and religious freedom. The Spanish colonies were born from the desire to spread Christianity and convert Native Americans to Catholicism.
The English established their first permanent colony at Jamestown in 1607. Over the next one hundred fifty years, the English slowly expanded their territory along the Atlantic Coast. They colonized New Hampshire (1623), Massachusetts (1630), Rhode Island and Connecticut (both 1636), Maryland (1632), Delaware (1638), Virginia (1607), North Carolina (1653), South Carolina (1663), and Georgia (1732). The Spanish established their first permanent colony at St. Augustine in Florida in 1565. They also colonized Puerto Rico (1508), Cuba (1511), and Mexico (1519).
The English practiced “territoriality,” which meant that they claimed ownership of all the land they discovered, even if they did not settle it. The Spanish practiced “legalism,” which meant that they only claimed ownership of the land that they settled. The English colonies were royal, proprietary, or self-governing colonies. The king appointed the governor of a royal colony. The proprietor owned a proprietary colony, and the colonists elected their own governors in self-governing colonies. All Spanish colonies were royal colonies governed by appointees of the king.
The English allowed freedom of religion in their colonies, while the Spanish required Catholicism. The English also had slaves, while the Spanish did not. The English practiced a type of agriculture called subsistence farming, which meant that they only grew enough food to feed their own families. The Spanish practiced commercial agriculture, which meant that they grew crops to sell.
The English colonies were more populous than the Spanish colonies. In 1700, the English colonies had a population of 500,000. The Spanish colonies had a population of 150,000. By 1763, the English colonies had a population of 2 million. The Spanish colonies had a population of 400,000.
The four English regions were the New England Colonies, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Colonies, and the Southern Colonies. The New England Colonies were made up of the colonies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The Middle Colonies were made up of the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The Chesapeake Colonies were made up of the colonies of Virginia and Maryland. The Southern Colonies were made up of the colonies of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
The English colonies were more urban than the Spanish colonies. In 1700, 10 percent of the English colonists lived in cities. In 1763, 25 percent of the English colonists lived in cities. This growth was due to the influx of immigrants looking for work as well as the growth of international trade. The Spanish colonies were mostly rural with only 3 percent of the population living in cities in 1700. This changed little by 1763.
One similarity between the English and Spanish colonies was that both groups practiced mercantilism. Mercantilism is an economic theory that holds that a country’s wealth is measured by its gold and silver reserves. A country increases its wealth by exporting more goods than it imports. Both the English and Spanish colonies exported raw materials to their parent countries and imported manufactured goods.
Colonialism is the extension of a nation’s political, economic, and cultural influence through settlement of its people in new areas. Colonization is the process by which one nation establishes settlements and brings them under its political control. North America was colonized by the Spanish, French, Dutch, and English.