Significance of Jamestown

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What is the significance of Jamestown? “Jamestown introduced slavery into English speaking North America; it became the first of England’s colonies to adopt a representative government; and it was the site of the first clashes between whites and Indians over territorial expansion. Jamestown began the tenuous, often violent, mingling of different peoples that came to embody the American experience.” Dr. James Horn A Land As God Made It. In the 1400’s Europe had very little land for agriculture and settlement. The Europeans desired riches such as gold, luxury food items, land, and timber. None of these products could be produced in Europe so they had to find these resources elsewhere. This led to a lot of importing and trading with distant lands such as Asia. Trading with distant lands required dependable, faster ships, and led to the desire to discover shorter more efficient routes. Christopher Columbus believed he could sail west to reach Asia faster and Spain endorsed his adventure. What he found instead was the America’s. Spain claimed the entire new world as its own except for Brazil which was determined to belong to Portugal. Spain’s intentions on settling the new world was to obtain wealth. Spain acquired gold and silver from Mexico. By 1565 the first European settlement was established in Florida. Spain had developed its own empire in America. Although Spain’s main endeavor had been to find riches such as gold by the end of the 15th century they had decided it would be more profitable to steal land and crops and use Indians for labor than to continue to search for rumored cities of gold. The Pueblo Indians retaliated but the battle ended with many losses for the Indians. “By the early 1700’s the Spanish monarch ruled three times more Indian subjects than Spaniards.” Carnes, Mark C and John Garraty The American Nation.. The biggest problem for the Spanish empire was that the Indian population was dying rapidly. Europeans killed more natives by bringing disease such as smallpox, measles, bubonic plague, flu, and yellow fever. Europeans had evolved enough that they had built up resistance to the diseases but the Indians having never been exposed had no resistance and the diseases spread very rapidly across America nearly wiping the Indians out. Europeans brought with them their native plants to grow but quickly switched to potato and maize cultivation. Because they had wiped out most of the Indian population they had to start bringing in slaves captured from Africa to work the land. By the sixteenth century Spanish colonization was a success. One quarter of Spain’s revenue came from America. France and England were too busy fighting over religion to make permanent settlement in America. The English after “suffering war after war, religious disagreement, and a poor economics saw America as a place to establish the perfect society.”Garvin, David. US History 101. Course home page. Jan 2008-May2008. Highland Community College. Feb.26,2008. England and most of Europe at this time were in favor of mercantilism, however it was at its peak in Europe and the mercantilists needed to branch out and search for overseas trading colonies. Europe had strong governments but with it came religious persecution. The Protestant, English and other Reformations caused a great deal of argument between Orthodox Catholicism and its alternatives. Many religion non-conformists were looking for a new place to live and worship. For various reasons ranging from economics to religion many people were in favor of settling in a new land. England was too weak at this time to challenge Spain, but under the direction of Queen Elizabeth, “Captain Francis Drake set sail and captured the Spanish treasure ship Cacafuego which was full of Peruvian silver. He then claimed the coast of California as belonging to England, and returned to England in 1580”. Carnes, Mark C and John...
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