American Colonies' by Alan Taylor: Chapter Summary Essay

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Since Christopher Columbus discovered the United States, it is always viewed as a “land of opportunity” with a considerable amount of possibilities for immigrants to settle and fulfill their dreams. The book, American Colonies: The Settling of North America, by Alan Taylor, presents a remarkable perspective on the colonization of North America. The book mentions how the European colonists and local individuals; Natives met each other and communicated at a pace and power. It also discusses the emergence of the New World, which was being worked by the Natives and how the Spanish and other European colonizers treated the Indians, and how millions were dead due to lack of resources and infections. The assertion Taylor gave from the primary sources was, for the most part, affirmation against the cases he made regarding the wretchedness, the Natives went facing. The greed of expanding the lands and dominating the world with their power made the Europeans inhuman. The author incorporates primary and secondary sources and provides support for the readers to understand how inhumane Europeans were when trying to settle in America and how it affected the religious practices of the Natives.

Primarily, Taylor began when the Europeans settled into the New World: Spain. Examining over the brief period when the colonizers stepped on the land and the Spanish's behavior towards the Natives. Indians of different clans were mistreated by the English, like the Spanish, which obliged themselves to ensure the Natives. Between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the “New World” underwent extreme changes. The destruction of North America and the Caribbean and the impact of Europeans' advance through the land. European areas could exchange goods from the New World at a higher cost, growing pay, which along these lines empowered them to make and affirm more land for their different countries. The events at the start of colonization are essential for understanding the history of the United States. It has shaped the future of the country that is introduced to us today. Despite the oppression done by the Europeans on the Natives, it did fit fiddle the inevitable fate of this nation. Europeans highly influence Americans. Almost all Americans practice Christianity, and the swearing of the President into office is similar to that of Europeans. All in all, the colonization of Europeans and have helped in shaping present America.

The Spanish settlement in the New World was in 1492 when Columbus found the Caribbean. By the 1650s, the Spanish Empire procured and expanded their command through tricky procedures and driving their standards and ethics over the Natives. With the use of arquebuses’ sixteenth-century guns, horses and warfare dogs, and deadly diseases, Spaniards were victorious in instilling fear in the minds of Indians. Spaniards commanded to take over and colonize parts of North and South America, and the Caribbean. They wanted to show power over the Natives, which illustrated “uniquely cruel and far more brutal and destructive than other Europeans in their treatment of Indians” (Taylor 71). Taylor refers to many primary sources to present Spanish cruelty. One particular primary source indicated interpreted why Natives were ill-treated by the Spanish who felt obligated to do so. Taylor mentioned, “To provide new slaves, Spanish military entrepreneurs raided the mainland of Central America, grabbing Indians for profitable sale to the miners and planters of the islands” (Taylor 72). When the Spanish army diminished due to the diseases, the colonizers needed someone to work for them. The need for slaves was one of the primary reasons the Spanish behaved in executing Natives. The Natives passed away rapidly because of hunger, tiredness, and infections. The Spanish army sought this opportunity and started to raid towns and kidnap Indians to work the farms, mines, and estates. The Spaniards were successful in frightening the Natives, and “The safest course was to submit to their rule and their god in the desperate hope of some relief” (Taylor 77). To save their lives, Indians didn’t have any other choice but to give up and work for the Spanish army, which leads them to their downfall. The Spanish had control over the Natives with just a few weapons that they could topple long lengthy stands and areas. However, when the Spanish army used it, they either slaughtered or tormented the locals.

Like the Spanish, the English were also to blame for killing Natives. The English promoters wanted to venture to the New World, to expand the English colonies and enrich themselves. They colonized across the Atlantic and named it Virginia. “By applying the fair and loving meanes suiting to our English Natures” (Taylor 142), English was successful in wooing Indians. About 100 colonists’ men were sent to settle in Roanoke. They behaved like a conquistador and demanded food from the Algonquian Indians who themselves didn’t have enough to sustain their living. It resulted in the English taking away the Indians' crops, and the Indians learned to distrust the colonists. “Spanish and English mariners sometimes kidnapped or killed natives” (Taylor 148). English looked down on Indians and their religious practices, and by subordinating them, they freed most of their lands for their settlement. If any Indian refused to practice Christianity, they were regarded as “wild and dangerous beasts” (Taylor 149). Upon the settlement of Jamestown, about half of the colonists died due to hunger. When Indians refused to provide food to the colonists, Captain John Smith attacked Indians for the survival of his fellows. He attacked the neighboring town and burned their houses and brutally killed women and children. It gave rise to violence between the English and Natives.

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Distressed by hunger, the English terrified Algonquians by executing them. Later, when Powhattan died, to prosper and get rid of the substandard living, the colonists started tobacco plantations. Tobacco grown in Virginia was taxed and exported to English. “As tobacco cultivation expanded and the population grew, the planters needed more land, which they obtained at the Indians’ expense” (Taylor 155). Knowing the side effects of the use of tobacco and enraged by the cattle ruining their cornfields, Indians attacked the colonists and burned the tobacco plantations. The colonial leaders were waiting to take revenge for this behavior by the Indians. The governor invited Indians in an attempt at genocide. The tobacco boom drew colonists to settle in Virginia, which outnumbered the Algonquians who died due to the brutality of the English, hunger, and diseases.

The development of America was a direct result of the moves European colonizers made against the Natives. Natives were difficult to persuade the Europeans to colonize and settle in America. It is evident with the use of primary sources that Taylor references, yet the sources could not provide enough support. To do so, Taylor depends on secondary sources to reinforce his arguments. A secondary source Taylor cites is The Spanish Conquest by J.H. Elliot and The Only Land They Knew: The Tragic Story of the American Indians in the Old South by J. Leitch Wright Jr., to explain more about the misfortune went through by the Natives. In their first plight against Indians, the Spanish had dominated the Natives by bribing them with weapons. Columbus considered the Taino inhabitants as Indians and believed that they were weak and had no strength to fight against Spaniards, who possessed weapons. He “unilaterally declared the natives subject to the Spanish crown” (Taylor 55). Columbus seized the land of Hispaniola and left behind his crew members to run the colony. When he returned from his exploration, he learned that Taino Indians killed his fellow members. In vengeance, Columbus killed and captivated Indians to sell them in Spain. Taylor concurred Spanish were cutthroat in their takeover to develop into the best dominant area in the world. Their narrow-mindedness made them behave and conduct cruel acts against innocent natives. Elliot's reasoning agrees with Taylor's claims that the Spanish would not tolerate any hinder that comes along the way of achieving their goals. Wright's clarifications also concurred with Taylor's cases, as he portrays that the Spanish accomplishment and colonizing brought death to many innocent lives.

Furthermore, Taylor clarifies that similar to the Spanish, the English also behaved harshly with Natives when they thrived on settling in America. The Algonquians Indians were fond of English and their technology. English was successful in gaining trust until Lane killed the local chieftain Wingina and his deputy chiefs for refusing to supply food for the colonists. “The English considered the Indians lazy and benighted” (Taylor 148). English considered Native Indians inferior to them and subordinated them. To provide enough evidence on this situation, Taylor mentions another secondary source, The Rise and Fall of the Powhatan Empire by James Axtell, which explains the fall of the Powhatan Empire. Before the arrival of English colonists, it was a unified colony of thirty tribes ruled by one chief Powhattan. To obtain the lands, the English massacred whole towns to intimidate the chief to surrender. Instead of captivating Powhattan, Captain John Smith surrendered. “Powhatan seized the opportunity ritually to adopt Smith as a subordinate chief. Staged as a mock execution interrupted by Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan, the ritual was supposed to render Smith’s people tributary” (Taylor 152). In revenge for his planned execution, John brutally killed the Algonquians and their tribe leaders. As discussed by both Taylor and Axtell, the outcome was the Indians submitting themselves to English for the sake of their lives. The empire was brought to an end by the English colonists as they considered themselves superior and egocentric as they were successful in subordinating and converting the Natives.

In conclusion, the relationship between European and the Natives had a significant effect during the colonization of the New World. By proving a lot of insights, Taylor made a strong basis for many incidents on how the Natives were treated. The use of primary and secondary sources helped Taylor provide enough evidence and understanding of the events to future readers. When informing the readers about colonization, Taylor mainly focused on the groups that were cruel to the Natives, withdrawing his arguments for the groups that supported Indians. The interpretation of the events by Taylor could help students of history today to comprehend what they can do to forestall something as grievous as that ever happening again. Europeans believed that they know how to use their lands until they encountered Indians. To build up an economy, Europeans slaughtered and seized lands from the Indians. The history would have been entirely different if both the Natives and Europeans had worked together and respected each other rather than condemning them. All the events have negative and positive effects. The greed for expanding the lands created tension between the two clans: Indians and Europeans. If the colonists did not settle and colonized America, it would not have developed. Even with the criticism of culture, deaths, and wars, America has now become a “Land of opportunity” for many immigrants.

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American Colonies’ by Alan Taylor: Chapter Summary Essay. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from
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