The Colonization and Development
by Rit Nosotro
of North and South America
in the 16th century
Compare and contrast the Colonization and Development of North and South America in the 16th century.
North and South America differ in more than just their location on the globe. The people who colonized the continents made a huge impact on the way areas developed. Although people will most likely remember Columbus (sent by the Spanish) discovering North America, and Cortez (also Spanish) in South America, it was not the explorers, but the colonizers who formed the nations.
In the late 16th century, there was great Catholic influence in France. The small group of Christians that rebelled, known as Huguenots, were persecuted, even unto the point of massacre! They were trying to worship God in the way they believed was right, following God’s commandment in Duet. 12:4, “Do not worship God in their [other nations] way.” This, however, did not go over too well with the Catholic leadership in France at that time. To escape the terrible harassment, many Huguenots escaped into the Americas, to worship there in their own way, without fear of death or punishment. Before this time, America had been primarily a place to go and bring back goods for trading. Not many people had actually considered living there. In search of religious freedom, the Huguenots were some of the first non-explorers to settle in the Americas. Many of them settled in New York; even today there is a historical site dedicated to the “French settlers who founded the village in the 17th century.” These Huguenots gave New York some of its French taste, which is still visible even today.
The Huguenots were not the only people to sail to the Americas to escape persecution. The Puritans from England also came to North America in search of religious freedom. The Puritans were a group of people who “grew discontent in the Church of England and worked towards religious, moral, and societal reform.” In 1629, the first Puritan settlement was established in the New England area. Large numbers of people came from England in the following years. The Puritans impacted the growth of America by their sheer numbers. The way they lived also helped form the America we know today. The Puritans were responsible for the development of free education: in 1635, they opened a school to give children a free education. Also, their religious behavior impacted the formation of the government.
It is obvious from these two examples how North America began developing. Most people that came to North America were religious, thus Christianity got a place in the government. However, because the Huguenots, Puritans, and others had suffered so much at the hands of the religious fanatics in the Old World, they vowed not to repeat the same mistake. They remembered the feeling of persecution and discrimination because of their beliefs and wanted the new country to be free of such prejudices. Because of this, the United States practiced religious freedom from the very beginning. Thus, the government of America that we see today was formed by the very first colonies that arrived on the continent.
In contrast with the people that colonized North America, South America was primarily colonized by people from Spain. Cortez conquered Mexico in a war that raged from 1519 – 1521. The Spanish conquest of Yucatan (the Mayan empire) was another war, much longer, lasting from 1511 – 1697. The colonization of South America is marked by wars and bloodshed. Unlike North America, there already were developed empires in South America when the explorers first landed. Because of this, less regular people chose to go to South America. Young men, old men, men seeking adventure- those were the Europeans who peopled the continent of South America.
In the early years after the discovery of South America, the conquistadors (explorers) controlled the land that they conquered. Soon after, however, the government of Spain became claiming territory. The struggle between the individual empires and the royal claims of Spain was long and bloody. By the middle of the 16th century, however, Spain had claimed most of South America as part of her empire. This is in concordance with God’s prophecy in Deuteronomy 2:5, “Do not provoke them [the people of the lands the Israelites passed through] to war, for I will not give you any of their land.” This hostile beginning of the European influence in South America still has effects today. South America started out war-like, and the struggles for power continue up to this day.
Through both of these examples, it can be plainly seen that the development of a country is very much affected by the people who colonize it. Also, it is not just affected for a short time, but for at least several hundred years. This is helpful in our understanding of history, because if we know the development of a nation hinges on the beliefs and actions of its people, it is easier to pick apart different situations and understand why they happen. In addition, it is obvious in these examples, as well as all throughout history, that God is sovereign and allows His will to be done always. The Huguenots and Puritans were seeking freedom to worship Him, and so He allowed them to be some of the first to bring their beliefs into the New World. This shaped the formation of America, allowing Christianity to be incorporated into the very beginnings of America. Is it not amazing that God provides for His people always, no matter what the situation?Quick Quiz
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