North America History
The first Europeans to come to North America were Norsemen. Southwest Greenland remained in the 900’s. colonized from Iceland, and from Greenland, Leif the Happy came around the year 1000 with an expedition to the eastern coast of present-day Canada and established a short-lived settlement, Vinland; Remains of such a settlement have been found at L’Anse-aux-Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland. This and other expeditions, however, did not lead to colonization, and in the 1400’s, the northerners in Greenland perished.
In competition with first England, later Holland, the Danish kings sought in the 1500’s and 1600’s. with a series of expeditions to claim Danish supremacy in Greenland, but not until the 1700’s. Danish colonies were founded on the west coast.
On the North American continent, smaller countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Russia and even Denmark played a role in the 17th century, but only Spain, France and England were able to maintain a permanent presence in the continent of North America. See COUNTRYAAH for a full list of countries in the continent of North America.
Spain established itself in the 1500’s in the area south and west of the Rio Grande, i.e. in Central America and Mexico. With the conquest of the Aztec Empire 1519-1521 and the Inca Empire 1532-1533, the Spanish crown directed its interests in particular towards the extraction of precious metals; in Havana, Cuba, a fleet was assembled annually, sailing the prey to the motherland. In the 1600’s. came the southwestern parts of North America, viz. the area from Texas to California west of the Mississippi, as well as Florida under Spanish rule. Towards the end of the 1600’s. fought with difficulty an extensive revolt among the Pueblo Indians. The possessions were consolidated with a number of city foundations, such as San Antonio in 1718, San Francisco in 1776 and Los Angeles in 1781.
The initiative on the eastern part of the continent was left to England and France. From the end of the 1400’s. the rich fish banks off Newfoundland became targets for English and southern European fishermen. The first English colonies were Jamestown in Virginia and the Plymouth Colony in New England, founded in respectively. 1607 and 1620. The French discoveries stretched in the 1600’s. via the Great Lakes down through the Mississippi Valley. Québec and Montréal were founded in respectively. 1608 and 1642. French rule grew only slowly, but succeeded in encircling the English possessions by creating a series of bases through the Ohio Valley and along the mouth of the Mississippi River, where the colony of Louisiana was founded in the early 1700’s.
In the Caribbean, Spain concentrated on the larger islands and sought to maintain a monopoly on the navigation of all non-Portuguese possessions in America. The most important Spanish possession was Cuba, which was conquered in the early 1500’s. During the 1600’s, began first English and French, then Dutch and Danish colonization; Jamaica and the western part of Hispaniola (now Haiti)) became in the last half of 1600-t. most important resp. English and French possession. According to COUNTRYAAH, Caribbean is a part of Central America, and the Caribbean colonies quickly became lucrative by virtue of sugar cane production, which, like tobacco production in Virginia, enjoyed very high European demand. The silver mines on the mainland and the plantations required a lot of labor, and for this purpose were imported from the beginning of the 1500’s. slaves from Africa. Spain was gradually unable to maintain its position in the Caribbean, and 1700-t. marked by Franco-British strife.
Around Columbus’ arrival in America in 1492, the number of Indians in North America has been estimated to have been at least 7 million, of which approximately 5 million lived in Central America and Mexico. However, the European invasion led to a demographic catastrophe that was triggered by the transmission of diseases such as smallpox, measles and lung diseases to which the Native American population was not resistant. Epidemics thus led to a population decline of 90% over a few generations.
The depopulation was matched by the largest migration in history: Of the approximately 9 million. people who came to North America before 1820 were approximately 2/3 African slaves (see also slavery). Alone in the 1700’s. were transported over 1.5 million. slaves to the British colonies against approximately 500,000 free immigrants in the same period. 90% of the slaves ended up in the Caribbean. The Danish slave import in the 1700’s. to the Danish West Indies included approximately 28,000 blacks. On the mainland, the distribution between voluntary immigration and slave imports was more equal, and in the 1600’s. the supply of European contract workers played an important role. In total, approximately 400,000 blacks to the British colonies on the mainland. Also a number of whites came involuntarily to the colonies; Britain thus shipped 1718-1775 approximately 50,000 convicts, most to Maryland and Virginia. It was not until around 1830 that immigration was predominantly voluntary.
Spain and France exercised strict immigration control, and the majority of the immigrants were men, leading to a significant mixed population. In the British colonies, a more liberal attitude was taken early on when it came to religion and nationality. Immigration from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Northern England and Germany in particular was based primarily on whole families, which meant that whites did not marry the African and Native American populations; the result was a sharp racial segregation and, for the Indians, seclusion and expulsion.