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APUSH: KC‑2.1.I.B (KC), MIG (Theme), Unit 2: Learning Objective B

Video transcript

- [Narrator] Although the Spanish were the first European colonists in the New World, they didn't remain alone in the Americas for very long. Just three years after Hernan Cortes captured Tenochtitlan, the French government sent its first explorer to poke around North America and look for what many European explorers had searched for from the beginning, a passage to the East. Now, although the explorers never found this Northwest passage because it didn't exist, they, like the Spanish, quickly learned that there were quite a lot of riches to be had in the Americas themselves. In this video, I'd like to take some time to talk about two of the lesser known European colonies in the New World, New France up here in pink and New Netherland, this little orange dot right here. Now, you can see that compared to the extent of New Spain, here in the Caribbean and Mexico and expanding in South America, these colonial exploits were pretty small indeed, but I think it's important to learn a little bit about them because they help us see the ways in which the different goals of colonial powers led to very different types of settlement in the New World and very different relationships between Europeans and Native Americans. Now, though it's a little bit hard to see on this map, these two colonies focused their efforts around two rivers, the Saint Lawrence River and the Hudson River which runs along this little orange strip here. And along these rivers, you can still see the cities that were founded by these colonial ventures like Quebec City up in Canada, later Montreal and down here of course the most famous which started as New Amsterdam and later became the city of New York. Right about here is the Island of Manhattan on which New York City, formerly New Amsterdam, is located. Now, looking at this map, you might wonder, why was it that Spain have these giant swabs of territory really from coast to coast where New France and New Netherland really only followed along these rivers, at least to start with? And the answer really lies in this idea of goals. And New France and New Netherland sat on the rivers, rivers being the highways of the world really up until the invention of the railroad, because they were primarily interested in trade. So let's talk a little bit more about that. French and Dutch explorers were particularly interested in gaining valuable furs to trade from Native Americans living in the Northern part of North America that they could then sell in Europe. Long before European colonization began, beavers had been hunted pretty much to extinction in Europe while beaver pelts themselves were usually used to create fancy hats. This is a hat from a slightly later era, but you can get the sense here that Europeans met on something of an equal basis with Native Americans in the process of the fur trade, so Europeans wanted beaver pelts and also the pelts of other animals and often fish, another thing that was in great supply in this Northern region which is today the Northeast United States and Canada. So how did this focus on trade affect the relationships between Europeans and Native Americans in the area? Well, primarily they made relationships between them considerably friendlier and more cooperative than the relationships between the Spanish and Native Americans for example. Now, Europeans quickly discovered that it made a lot more sense to instead of sending hundreds upon hundreds of Frenchmen to Canada to hunt beavers themselves, they could instead pay Native Americans to hunt the beavers for them. And consequently, there were considerably fewer French and Dutch settlers in New Netherland and New France than there were in New Spain. And because there were fewer of them, they generally ended up doing things more on the terms of Native Americans so whereas the Spanish might have used their guns and their war dogs to force Native Americans to labor for them, the French and the Dutch were more likely to observe trading rituals like giving gifts and also fostering trade relationships through intermarriage. French traders learned the Algonquian language and married native women and had children with them so that they could be considered part of the family. They even allied with Native American Tribes against their own enemies and went to war with them as in the case in 1609 when French explorer Samuel de Champlain helped Algonquians in their war against the Iroquois. And like New France, New Netherland situated as it was in this very good harbor, the Island of Manhattan, was likewise very focused on trade. In fact, New Amsterdam was a little bit of a company town controlled by the Dutch West India Company which sought to make the most of all of the goodies that could be brought from North America and then shipped to Europe. In fact, you can get a sense of what the major concerns of the Europeans settling in this area were from this map. You can see that they point out where beavers, turkeys, foxes, and bears can be found all with their valuable pelts, but you also see that there's an extremely detailed rendering of where many Native American Tribes lived like this detailed rendering of what I believe is a Mahican village. The French and Dutch bothered to learn all of these names and map all of this territory because they cooperated with the Native Americans to get these pelts. It's hard to imagine a Spanish map that would go into such detail about native villages. It's important to remember that Europeans were competing with each other for resources in the New World hoping that they could secure the best trade deals for furs with Native Americans and prevent other nations from securing those furs. For example, the Dutch allied with the Iroquois in the New World as trading partners because the Iroquois were the long-time enemies of the Algonquians who were allied with the French. So just as the Europeans recruited Native Americans into their competitions to supply Europe with furs, Native Americans recruited Europeans into their inter-tribal feuds to supply the Americas with European goods. I wanna finish by just briefly comparing each nation's colonial goals with their outcomes and what sorts of people settled, what the relationships were like with Native Americans, and even how they attempted or didn't attempt to convert Native Americans to a form of Christianity. Now, as we saw with Spain, their goal was to quickly extract natural resources from the Americas and to set up plantations for tobacco and later sugar, plus to convert as many of the native people to Catholicism as possible by force if necessary and it was frequently necessary. Consequently, most of the Spanish settlers who came to the New World were men and adventurers who treated native people with violence and enslaved them in the encomienda system and in some cases had relationships with native women and African women that resulted in that very complex set of racial designations we see in the caste system. But France and the Netherlands by contrast came for trade. They wanted furs and fish and so they were very careful to cultivate very friendly relationships with Native Americans including by intermarrying with them in a deliberate and formal way so that they could take advantage of having natives do the hunting for them rather than having to do it themselves so that really only a few men came to New France and New Netherland, nothing like the numbers of Spain. And unlike the Spanish, although the French did attempt to convert natives to Catholicism, they rarely did so by force. Now, going forward as we talk about British colonization in the next few lessons, I want you to keep both the Spanish and the French and Dutch modes of colonization in your mind so you can compare and contrast English colonization with both of them. And as we'll see, the goals of the various English colonies whether it's to found plantations like in Jamestown, Virginia, or to escape religious persecution like in Massachusetts Bay, that goal will go on to influence not only who came to the Americas from Europe, but also their relationships with native people.