European colonization of the North America began in the 15 century when John Cabot reached the northern part of the island of Newfoundland and declared it the possession of the English crown. The meeting of Europeans with indigenous people of North America was followed by both not equal fight, and interaction. However, as a result of this racial and cultural mixing was born and began to develop a new civilization. The colonists did not find gold in the new lands and therefore, their development differed from the Spanish conquest and at the first stage was peaceful.
Before the colonization period, up to 400 tribes lived in the territory of the future United States of America. At the first time, when the number colonizers were not as high as at the late 17 century, and their villages occupied small areas on the ocean coast, the colonizers and Indians lived peacefully. The Indians were friendly to the newcomers, supplied them food, and did barter. Nevertheless, as a number of settlers grew, they began to move into the center of the country and to push aside Indians from their lands. The natives did not know commodity-money relations, had no idea about the value of the land, or land ownership rights, and sold vast areas of lands for peanuts. The Lands of Indians were captured by farmers or the companies of speculators. Under the influence of missionaries, the entire system of values and principles of Indian life has been changed. The colonists brought to the North America previously unknown disease and alcohol that killed the local population (“Spanish Colonization”). Inter-tribal feuds also hampered the unity of Indian resistance to the Europeans. Therefore, all subsequent colonization of America was linked to war with the Indians, and their destruction. Indian tribes were detached from each other, fragmented into dozens of small groups, and placed into the reservations. After the capitalist colonization, especially the discovery of gold in California (1848), the majority of the indigenous population was wiped out.
The Spaniards were the first Europeans who came to America, and to the middle of the 16 century, they were the main researchers of the North America. The British, Portuguese and French also did significant discoveries on the Atlantic coast of North America. Spanish possessions stretched from the Cape Horn to New Mexico and brought huge profits to the royal treasury. The Spanish conquerors captured Indians, plundered and burned their villages, and Indians tried to resist them (“Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763”). However, in the 17 century, Spanish villages occupied quite a large area on the Atlantic coast of North America (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina) as well as on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico. In the West, they possessed California and areas corresponding to present states Texas, Arizona, New Mexico. From the middle of the 16, century conquerors began to develop new mines. All conquered lands became the property of the Spanish king and their inhabitants - his subjects. Numerous missionaries arrived overseas for the conversion of the Indians to the Catholic faith. The discovery of the New World and the emergence of Spain and Portugal possessions there stopped independent development of these nations and laid the foundation of their colonial dependence. In the 17 century, the balance of power in the Old World has changed, and France and England ousted Spain from the colonial leadership in the North America. Therefore, the most serious contenders for the supremacy in the American colonies were England, Holland, and France.
Despite the fact that the French and Dutch were among the pioneers in the colonization of North America, they did not manage to get a foothold in this new lands. Their merchants bought up fur that was hunted by the Indians and got a huge profit, French did not create big settlements over the ocean. French and Dutch colonization did not become popular. French farmers were firmly attached to their land and did not seek overseas. The French founded small settlements, factories, and set feudal obligations for the peasants. French merchants and landowners bought fur from the Indians for a pittance, so the French did not force out Indians from their homes. The majority of the French and Dutch colonists were all sorts of adventurers and people who could not find the place in the economy of their countries, but they could not create the base for development of the economy in the New World. The French colonization was very unstable for example in 1562 French-based Charlesfort, but due to the lack of provisions left it and the same story happened with the Fort St. Louis. The New France was the most developed French colony. The French built many churches in this colony and made clergy responsible for the secular affairs of the colony. French colonies were short of entrepreneurs, as well as the colony needed a blacksmith, woodcutters, coopers, and carpenters. The elementary accomplishment of the colonies proceeded very slowly. The French treasury allocated very few funds on their possessions in North America, which affected on the success of the French colonization of the New World.
Dutch colonization of North America began in 1621, from the founding of the Dutch West India Company. In 1624 Dutch fur traders founded the Dutch province on the island of Manhattan, which was known as New Netherland, with its main city the New Amsterdam. The land on which the city was founded, was bought in 1626 by the Dutch colonists from the Indians for only $ 24. Unfortunately, the Dutch did not manage to achieve any significant socio-economic development of their colony in the New World. The Dutch were interested only in the fur trade (“Dutch Colonies”). The Dutch farmers didn't hurry to go to the New World, and the population of Holland was not numerous. Neither France nor Spain, and the Netherlands has not given the mass flow of peasants to the colonies. Most colonists from these countries were merchants, capitalists, and wealthy aristocrat’s entrepreneurs. Having received the royal charter, they were not interested in the migration of the peasants to the colonies, on the contrary, they tried to prevent the mass peasant colonization of their American possessions. The capitalists, entrepreneurs in the French and Dutch colonies founded factories that usually had a military garrison and considered that their main task was a profitable fur trade with the Indians. Taking into account all these factors, none of these three countries was not able to take root in their new possessions and collapsed under the pressure of England.
England began to colonize America later than other European countries. The British were not looking for rich deposits of gold and silver, as the Spaniards, or markets for the purchase and export of rare and valuable commodities, as Portuguese and Dutch. They sought to find free land suitable for cultivation, and North America has become exactly what the British were looking for. The British established their first permanent settlement in 1607 at the mouth of the James River (Grigg &Mancall, 190). Subsequently, new settlements emerged on the north and south along the coast of Spanish Florida to New England. Each of these colonies formed independently with its own access to the sea. Initially, the founders of the first colonies were trading companies that took over the transportation and installation of settlers in the new territories, and bourgeoisie who bought or received land in the New World from the king. The companies and landowners had the right to appoint governors, and to collect taxes.
In the English colonies everyone could rent a small plot of land or to settle in the undeveloped areas. The colonists felt freer in the New World than in the England itself. In this new land, there were no those traditional practices that complicated the life of an ordinary Englishman. All the achievements of the colonists were the result of their hard work, that’s why very quickly they became independent from the companies and the landowners. In addressing of all their problems colonists preferred self-organization, what quickly led to the democratization of all aspects of social life in English colonies. Meetings, discussions of the governor orders, and laws passed by the British Parliament have become a norm of life.
Each colony had its own procedures and practices. In the southern colonies, there was a significant layer of black slaves that worked on large plantations. In the northern colonies, free labor prevailed over the slavery. However, Puritan morality strictly regulated the behavior of the northern colonists: gambling games were banned, and population strictly followed all religious rules. Among English possessions were some colonies where the church was separated from the state and all citizens have equal rights. The attitude of colonist’s to the indigenous population were different. In Puritan colonies clergy believed that the natives were infected by the spirit of Satan, and they were trying to destroy it. In other colonies, the attitude towards the natives was more loyal.
In economic development English colonies also significantly differed from each other. The plantation economy was strongly developed in the southern colonies, and they became main suppliers of tobacco, a sugar cane, rice, cotton, etc. In the northern colonies, the most developed areas were farming and various crafts. The economic development of the colonies was hindered by the metropolis. The colonists were forbidden to handle iron and skins. England held back the development of factories. The trade with the colonies gave huge profits to the metropolis. Colonies have become the main driving force of the growing British industry. Several development models closely coexisted in the British colonies: capitalism in manufacturing type; slavery as a way of manufacturing capitalism; feudal relations; and farming (“The Economies of the British ”).
“Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763”. Library of Congress. Web. Accessed 06 Apr 2016 at
“Dutch Colonies”. National Park Service. Web. Accessed 06 Apr 2016 at
Grigg, John A. and Peter C. Mancall. “British Colonial America: People and Perspectives”.
“Spanish Colonization”. Digital History, University of Houston. Web. Accessed 06 Apr 2016
“The Economies of the British North American Colonies in 1763”. San Jose State University.
Web. Accessed 06 Apr 2016 at <http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/colonies1763.htm>