The Atlantic Empires
The Atlantic Empires; which included France, Britain, and Spain, played a major role in shaping the history of North America through their exploration and colonization. In particular, the Atlantic empires used distinct approaches to governance in North America. The forms of governance used by empires were encouraged by social, economic and political factors. Thus, historians have been interested in tracing the rise of democracy and liberty, which are linked with the approaches used by the Atlantic Empires . Other historians have also attempted to trace the history of oppression, racism, and exploitation, which further helps in illustrating the approaches to governing used by the Atlantic Empires in North America. Therefore, one of the tools for understanding the methods is by comparing the approaches to governance as used by Spain, Britain, and France. In this perspective, the paper seeks to compare the approaches of governance in North America.
The Atlantic empires used three main approaches, which included occupation, consolidation, and emancipation to govern North America. Different reasons led the British and Spanish colonists to start settling in some parts of America . To start, Britain took the control of the land specifically east of the Mississippi River after the end of French and Indian War. Since there were incomplete English conquests in Europe, the British people exhausted their funds on campaigns which could have been utilized in the colonization process. The approach of occupation was also exercised by cohabiting. On the contrary, the English people decided to isolate themselves from those they considered as their subjects. The British neither socially nor economically associated with the Irish and the Scots. Rather, they adopted exclusive settlements. As for the Spanish, they had an experience with the Reconquista of Iberia. However, it came to a stop during the voyages of Columbus. The Spanish were using the strategy of acquisition because of their faith that it was a process of extending their territories. They felt more confident with the extension of the Reconquista to go past the shores of Spain. It is worth noting that the Spanish settled amongst the Moors of Iberia.
Demographic and environmental condition is another factor that dictated the approach of governance used by the Atlantic Empires. The Spanish were more encouraged to occupy in North American as compared to the British. After the Aztec and Incan civilizations had been conquered, there was a lucrative supply of silver and gold. The Spanish monarchy had plenty of mineral wealth that enabled them to control their colonies. It was harder for the British as they had little motivation to conquer. They had no mineral wealth and the populations onto which they exercised power were few. It should also be noted that the Spanish had arrived over a century before the British. This had led to multiple cultural and religious interactions with people in the mainland. Therefore, they had the advantage of awareness, unlike the British .
Atlantic Empires also used the consolidation approach of governance. The Spanish and the English used different models to exercise power and gain control over their colonies after the initial conquest phase . The British concentrated on building administrative institutions while the Spanish monarchy exercised its power from the sidelines. England had different forms of colonial governance that were contrary to those used by the Spanish. The British had isolated themselves by exclusive settlements and when it came to exercising power, they were building administrative institutions, an approach, which most natives resisted. On the other hand, the Spanish monarchy focused on integration and cohabiting by the occupation approach. However, when it came to exercising control, they did it from a distance, an approach that was friendly and mysterious.
The Atlantic Empires used emancipation as another approach to governance. Through this approach, the empires focused on integrating occupation and consolidation to gain control of the colonies. The Spanish and the British had initially had colonial experiences that were contradicting each other. The sparks revolution for the British and the Spanish was directed from different directions. While the Spanish lacked imperial authority, the British tried to exercise power over the colonies using the administrative institutions that they had established in few areas .
Besides the local conditions that created a difference in the forms of governance, international factors also influenced how the power was exercised. In the new world, the manner in which the Spanish and the British were ruled was different. The Spanish had a centralized authority while the British exercised a decentralized form of governance, because of different international relations factors such as immigration, religion, race, identity, and local governance. The empires’ approaches to power did not develop at the time they decided to conquer America. Instead, they slowly developed during their initial experiences with the new world .
The American colonists had a chance to construct the foundations of an independent country due to the British lack of imperial authority. On the other hand, the Spanish form of governance only left slim opportunities for its colonies to seek independence. The Spanish administrative methods did not allow the colonies to develop institutions for democratic governance. The imperial possessor of British America on the other hand had been neglected until the late colonial era. This gave a chance for the colonies to prepare to manage themselves as a republic.
The Spanish form of governance not only allowed it to navigate swiftly in its colonies, but it also paved way for the British invasion. The two exercised different forms of authority which determined their success in colonization. The Atlantic empires not only approached governance from different directions but the manner in which they developed in the societies was different . In addition, their approaches to governance not only contrasted with each other but also were in a way interconnected. For instance, the inclusion approach by the Spanish led the British to exercise exclusive settlement with its colonies. Their non-administrative form of governance made the British feel as if they have sufficient space to develop their administrative institutions in the quest to conquer the colonies.
Comparison of the different forms of governance by the Atlantic empires lays an outline of the development of the Atlantic history. The two empires had minimal similarities in their administrative operations, which explains the difference in their triumph. The other group included in the narrative is that of the Native American groups because they were determinant factors of social, political and economic lives of the people in America. For instance, immigration of people in America is one of the factors that encouraged the invasion of Atlantic empires. The centralized form of governance by Spain was also encouraged by the French, the British, and any other European neighbors that had gained a particular interest in Spain due to its newly acquired mineral wealth. The British on the other hand, were discouraged by their inability to succeed initially .
There are different factors that determine the approach used in the governance of a colony. These factors could be social, economic or political. Since different empires had different experiences with North America, they all approached the issue of authority differently. However, there were both similarities and differences between the approaches and they determined the success or failure of the empires.