The Americas Essay, Research Paper
The Involvement Of Africans & Indians In The Development In The Americas
Europeans have always been curious about worlds other than their own. They went to the Americas’ seeking the New World. After claiming the New World as their own, another interest came about. They needed slave labor. In the Americas, the Indians offered slave labor. In time, the need for more slaves with better technological skills arose. Africa provided a wide array of products and also the technological skills the Europeans needed to advance in their colonization. The technological skills were provided by the African slaves. As Europeans explored the world, it seemed other civilizations had o suffer in the wake of their destruction. This essay will discuss the events that have taken place in history dealing with both the Indian and Black slave condition in M. L. Conniff and T. J. Davis’, Africans in the Americas.
As the Europeans explored, their interest broadened. Africa exemplified their greatest interest because of the slave labor it had to offer. Unfortunately, slave labor was at the expense of people who were a different color other than the Europeans. Like Africa, the Americas offered slave labor. When the Europeans landed on the Americas, they encountered a different race. This race consisted of different Indian tribes. Before the Europeans came to either continent, both cultures flourished by establishing governments, religions and a way of living their own lives.
The Indians were located in the Americas and they also were ultimately taken advantage of because the Europeans thought of them as an inferior race. Why inferior? Well, the Europeans thought their way was the best way to live life. Like Europeans, exploration was done to gain profits and accumulate more wealth. Unlike the Africans, the Indians were initially forced into slavery. They did not have anything to gain. Most of the Africans who offered slave labor, gained trading privileges. The Indians were forced to adopt Christian beliefs. If it was not adopted, the Europeans would essentially deal with the situation as they saw fit. Some adopted well, while others died in vain as they fought for their rights. While adopting to the European way of life, the Indians were forced into providing their services to the Europeans. Some of the services provided were crafts and food. As the Europeans traveled deeper into the Americas, more and more Indians were found living on rich agricultural land. Examples of the rich agricultural land were Texas, Arizona and California. In these vast rich lands, elements such as gold and silver were discovered. The Europeans used these elements to accumulate wealth. The Europeans thought these pieces of land would be great for their way of living. Thus, began the exploitation of the Indians.
As the exploration of the New World continued, the Europeans found ways of exploiting the Indians. Some examples of the ways they exploited the Indians were the repartimiento and the encomienda. The first method, repartimiento, was the dividing up of the Indians between the leading officials. In this method, the Indians were used to perform everyday tasks such as repairing roads and building bridges. As time went by, the Indians received special privileges (laws) which permitted them to only work a specific amount of time, and also receive wages for their services. Shortly after, the leading officials chose to ignore the laws written up to benefit the Indians. The repartimiento took the Indians away from their homes and ultimately from their families, sometimes never to return. The encomienda was one of the few legal ways in which the Europeans exploited the Indians. The encomienda was the idea of the Crown granting the leading official who risked his life in frontier warfare, Indians to work for him. The encomienda was created to collect tribute, which the Crown determined that all native subjects owed to him. This power entitled to the leading officials, was terribly abused. In this form of exploitation, the Indians were destined to never get their freedom. The encomienda was so intense, the Indians could be born into working for leading official which their ancestors worked for many years before they were born. In return, the encomenderos would have to provide the Crown with military service where they could assume responsibility for the natives’ defense and spiritual welfare. “The encomienda represented the survival of a feudal institution…” (Weber, D. Page 126) These examples, basically kept the Indians under the control. For the time being that is. As the Americas became colonized by the Europeans, more and more help was needed. During the colonization of the Americas, the Indians could only do so much. In the Western hemisphere of the world, the African slave trade was established.
The African slave trade was established as a result of more curiosity by the European countries. Many other reasons are available but from my eyes, the curiosity is probably the greatest reason, the land which was not touched. “Many of the Europeans who traveled to Africa were drawn by curiosity…Most wished to exchange some goods for money or commodities that could be resold as home for a profit; this included slaves…” (Page 3) The Europeans became relentless with their numerous visits to Africa when they saw the vast variety of products that were provided by the Africans. As time passed, the slave trade created a commercial and political link between the Europeans and Africans. As insulting as it may sound, the Africans sold themselves to the Europeans and in return, got weapons to defend their nations or tribes against other rival nations and tribes. Little did they know, this type of behavior would become repetitive for the Europeans. In the later years, Africans would be shipped to the Americas and Europe by the thousands. Through this trade, the Black Diaspora, as it was called, began.
The Indians were then introduced to the Africans. The Africans were more skilled in ways that benefitted the Europeans. Ultimately, this would lead to the Africans making better slaves. As a result, the Africans sometimes, taught and supervised the Indians in the essential skills needed to help the advancement of the European colonization of the Americas. Now, the Indians had two uninvited guests on the land they first inhabited. As more people came to the Americas, the Indian population rapidly declined. “Several million Europeans and over ten million Africans flooded the American continents and islands, partially, replacing the declining of Amerindians.” (Page 65) The great demographic decline in the Indian population made fewer available for future enslavement.
Both the Indian and African slave labor helped shape the Americas, the Indians had more legal protection than the African slaves. The Africans were more slaves than the Indians. The Africans were more skilled than the Indians. Technologically, the Indians were a little behind the African civilization. The Indians had regulations, which “could” protect them whereas the Africans had none.
The African slave trade started to spread throughout the Americas. North, South and Latin America flourished with the help of both the Indian and African civilizations. The help provided by the Indians and Africans was well needed by the Europeans. In Brazil, the sugar boom was an incredible boost to their economy. The Indians were workers who produced sugar from sugarcane while the Africans were workers, soldiers and carpenters who would help the advancement of the Brazilian economy.
Slavery was seen throughout the entire colonization of the Americas by the Europeans. Through slavery, economies grew. Both the Indian and African influence, helped generate an ample amount of wealth for the Europeans. With the New World colonizing, more Europeans came over with the intention of making a better way of life with the help of slave labor. Slave labor was sometime taken peacefully by both the Indians and Africans, but sometimes violent situations could not be avoided. We all know of slavery rebellions for both Indian and African civilizations. These rebellions were sometimes quick and then again, they could be very long and bloody battles. One such rebellion which had the most dramatic effect on the African slave trade was the Haitian Revolution. This rebellion abolished slavery in Haiti. The Indians had many wars where they would fight for their land and beliefs but to no real victory, they fought on. Eventually, the Indian civilization was reduced dramatically.
As time passed, the slave trade increased. Traffic across the Atlantic with ships reached its peak in the 1780’s. Over nine hundred thousand Africans were shipped. This brought about a problem to the Europeans. They thought the increasing numbers of Africans would surpass that of the Europeans. Therefore, leading to an uncontrollable number of African slaves in the Americas. That, by itself could be a devastating blow to the economy because with such a dangerously increasing number, the Africans could ultimately rebel and they could probably outnumber the Europeans. “Thus stopping the flow of coerced labor from Africa in the early 1800’s ensured that the Americas would become predominantly white rather than predominantly black.” (Page 163)
The Indians and Africans both went through some form of slavery at the hands of the Europeans. In the end, one civilization suffered more, but suffering cannot be measured on the same scale in this situation. Both the Indians and the Africans lost an original piece of their culture due to the interference of the Europeans. As history shows, the African slave trade and the Indian slave labor enabled the colonization of the “supposed” European territory. Without the help of the Indians and Africans, who knows where the world would be today.