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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

U.S. History, Christianity, and Politics PART 3

(Spanish Hacienda in Yucatan, Mexico [1542])

This is a new series that will reflect on the rich history of the United States and the part Christianity, politics, corruption, racism, and persecution has played before and after this great nation began. It is important that we remind ourselves of the factual history of the United States and the important role Christianity has in this country today as well as to remember the hardships endured by the people of the past. Some of the actions of "Christians" have not been Christian like at all, and by reviewing history, we hope that mistakes are not repeated again. We will first cover the history leading up to the founding of the United States of America.

New Spain

Spain administered its new holdings as an autocratic, rigidly controlled empire in which everything was to benefit the parent country. Tight control of even mundane matters was carried out by a suffocating bureaucracy run directly from Madrid. Annual treasure fleets carried the riches of the New World to Spain for the furtherance of its military-political goals in Europe.

As population pressures were low in sixteenth-century Spain, only about 200,000 Spaniards came to America during that time. To deal with the consequent labor shortages and as a reward to successful conquistadors, the Spaniards developed a system of large manors or estates (enocmiendas) with Indian slaves ruthlessly managed for the benefit of the conquistadors. The encomienda system was later replaced by the similar but somewhat milder hacienda system. As the Indian population died from overwork and European diseases, Spaniards began importing African slaves to supply their labor needs.

Society in New Spain was rigidly stratified, with the highest level reserved for natives of Spain (peninsulares) and the next for those of Spanish parentage born in the New World (creoles). Those of mixed (Mestizo) or Indian blood occupied lower levels.

CREDIT: "Our Great Nation" Resources for Teachers, 2002.


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