Chapter 3 Patterns of Colonization in the New World Colonization of societies and cultures arose at different times, in different geographical areas and under different European national patronage. The English, French, Dutch, Swedes and Danes attempted to establish colonies in the Americas. All colonies began as small, unstable places on unfamiliar continent. They survived by forging relationships with one another and by strong reciprocal relationships with the parent societies in Europe. As these colonies developed and succeeded politically and economically, they began to represent and reflect the collective experience of their associates. Slowly they became new societies in a new land with new identities.
There was a wide spectrum of social forms present in the Americas. Throughout Spanish America, Brazil and the Caribbean significant and vital native communities continued to exist alongside the European. Semi-European cultures were present as well as Buccaneers in the Caribbean, Gauchos on the plains of Rio de la Plata in Southeastern South America. The origin and unification of these societies have been distorted and obscured by the Europeans. The Caribbean appears as a side light of European history instead of as key players with very significant and prominent roles.
Caribbean history and society had logic of their own but was often recorded in ways that degraded the worth of particular national origins that occupied those lands. The European colonies in the region between 1492 and 1800 had two distinct types of communities. There were colonies of settlers and colonies of economic exploiters. Colonies moved from one form to another, from colonies of settlement to colonies operating exclusively for the maximum production of profit for its politically dominant group.
To the Europeans of the 15th and 16th centuries America represented the land of the unknown. This obsession and curiosity began a continuous flow into that land. Christopher Columbus thought he was on the outskirts of wealthy China and wondered why there was such poverty in the land. Bernal Diaz del Castillo a chronicler saw America as a new venue for crusading merging religious assumptions; his aim was to get rich and to serve God and his majesty. Charles V was responsible for organizing the structure for the Spanish corporate state. During that same era Juan 111, King of Portugal aimed at converting Brazil into a true colony rather than a geographical reference point for Portuguese sailors on their way to India.
By the middle of the 16th century, both Spanish and Portuguese established colonies in the Americas. They thought these were going to be oversees empires but the colonies there and the Caribbean settlements were only microcosms of their European metropolitan societies. The expedition of Nicolas de Overdo to settle in Hispaniola represented a direct continuation of the pattern of reconquista with its curious combination of military positioning and material greed for land, wealth and servants. Soon followed were explorers, opportunists and free lancers from Spain. While the social values of the emigrants remained thoroughly Spanish many of them expressed little desire to return to Spain. Similarly, the English settlers in Barbados, Virginia and Massachusetts represented a continuation of the English plantations in Ulster, Wales and Scotland.
The American frontier offered space and opportunities to escape the confines of Europe and created a quality of life and social environment superior to that left behind. At the core of the Spanish expansions was religion. The ethnocentric Roman Catholicism of Iberia prospered. Meanwhile, Englishmen in Barbados and the other Eastern Caribbean islands reflected all the political and religious qualities of the motherland. Women were important in the new colonies. They were needed for procreation and raising the children.
The female mortality rate was extremely high. The Spanish did not encourage relations with the natives but fostered the migration of family units. The Spanish invested qualities of social honour and family responsibility and stability. A similar pattern existed in Barbados with the English. Family was important to the Spanish. State policies, religious policies and individual views influenced the actions and the attitudes of individuals in the colonies.
Europeans subscribed fully or partially to the goals expressed by Bernal Diaz del Castillo:" reconciling service to God and the King with the personal pursuit of riches". The Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis (1959) accepted the principle that the political head of state determined the general religious denominations of the people. This did not happen, notable conversions were of monarchs falling in line with the religion of the most powerful sector of their subjects. Religious wars existed in England and France during the 16th century, Latin America and the Caribbean were spared extreme forms of religious parochialism. But the domestic English rivalry between Anglicans, Presbyterians and Arminian as affected social relations in Barbados and Jamaica; and Jews found security only in he early Dutch settlements. The Spanish Crown had difficulty imposing authority over the conquering free lancers and their descendants in the 16th century.
Nonconforming groups of Indians and Africans defied authorities until the 19th century. Bartolom e de las Casas (1477-1566) and Thomas Gage (1600-1656) were individual dissenters. Englishman James Anthony Froude described two sets of colonies in the 19th century one as offering homes where English people can increase and multiply and the other set were Europeans can go and make their fortunes which they can carry home with them. Throughout the history of the Caribbean some families did not conform to the pattern of colony they resided in. Some British families never ceased to behave like transient English families. They prospered in the Caribbean but at no time did they adapt to the Caribbean and it never really became their home.
Between the 16th century and 18th century the bewildering novelty and variety of the Americas severely challenged the colonists. The earliest settlements paid a discouragingly high price in human terms; because of this spontaneous migration overseas began to decline sharply. It became evident that settlement colonies of Europeans could only prosper under similar climatic conditions to those in Europe. The Europeans repeated in the Americas what trail and error had already produced in Africa- a situation where others toiled while they reaped the benefits / profits. That is how the exploitation colony originated. Mercantilism provided the catalyst for the exploitation colony, merging politics and economics to serve the interests of the expanding states.
National wealth was national power and wealth was measured by commercial activity. In the exploitation colony the minority of Europeans usually but not always dominated and managed a majority of non-Europeans. Unlike the settler colonies, occupation, social cleavage and social status tended to be mutually reinforcing and directly correlated to the level of participation. Their commodities were tobacco, cotton cocoa, sugar and coffee. The greater the prospect of economic gains the greater the importance of the colony. The Spanish empire subjected Indians, Africans and the lower classes from the metropolis of its overseas colonies.
The Portuguese and the Dutch typified the exploitation colonies. The English converted Barbados from a settler to an exploitation colony around 1650 and established similar colonies in other Caribbean islands. The French did the same in Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe. The Spanish converted Cuba, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo. European settlers tried to re-create and create to preserve and care for their land but the exploiters merely held together as long as they could and when profits declined they moved on.
The early English, like the early Spanish built and behaved in the Caribbean much as they did back home in Europe. The English tried to force their mode of dress, diet and housing on the Indians and Negroes but they failed miserably at this and eventually gave up. This resulted in many settlers packing up and moving on. The settler origins left indelible traces in the physical landscape of Barbados. Anthony Trollope, an English Victorian novelist disagreed with Froude and wrote negatively about the patterns of the colonies in Barbados, Cuba and Jamaica. Saint- Domingue was the exploitation colony par excellence during the 18th century.
A war broke out and power gravitated to the majority of slaves who overcame the whites and their allies with the assistance of yellow fever. As a result the old social order was completely destroyed. The Haitian revolution occurred in 1803 lead by Francois Dominique Toussaint Louverture because the slaves wanted complete freedom from bondage. The division of the Caribbean into settlers and exploitation colonies is an over's implication which facilitates the analysis of the region by incorporating the dynamics of social change. Both settlers and exploitation societies were constantly changing according to their altered circumstances. The divisions in American colonial societies occurred between types of societies that allowed all groups to react interdependently.
Even in slave societies master and slaves acted fully aware of the reactions of their opposites. The settler societies provided the model for conforming and socialization. The settlers were determined to succeed and set about discovering ways to facilitate their domination of nature. Settlers adapted freely and gained a self-consciousness about themselves. By contrast exploitation societies lacked a unifying spirit and were innovative only for self-preservation. These societies were often divided.
The cultural weaknesses and deficiencies of the plantations provided an opportunity for the Africans to help fashion their society. Because of the divisions the Africans were able to play a very influential part in influencing society..