Migration of Europeans during the period between 15th and 18th centuries and later have had great impacts up on the various and different cultures that make up United States of America. The purpose of this essay is to examine, and discuss how Anglo-American western expansion shaped the historical experiences of the Hispanics and Seminoles indigenous ethnic group.
Movement of the Americans into Florida
Since time immemorial human societies have been characterized by movement of people from one place to another. The motives or reasons behind movement of a particular group of people from one place to another vary but to a large extent they are economically motivated.
During the early times of human evolution people usually moved from one place to another in search of food, water, pastures for their livestock among other needed resources. At times they migrated from their homes because of displacement by other communities whose aggression they could not withstand.
During the period between 16th and 18th centuries the Europeans were interested in founding colonial territories beginning with the Americas and other parts in Asia and Africa.
For instance, Garrigus et al. (2010) points out that the Europeans migrated in large numbers to their new territories in the Americas between fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. British got the largest share of the new found treasures and thus their influence up on the American indigenous ethnic groups was great especially in North America which is today occupied by the United States of America.
According to Garrigus et al (2010) the Europeans renamed the newly discovered continent America and the local inhabitants were called Americans.
The local inhabitants without their understanding and approval acquired a new lasting identity. Equally however, the American experience was also influential in the transformation of language and world view of the Europeans (Garrigus et al 2010, Norton et al (2008).In other words, contacts between the Europeans and the Americans, Africans, Latinos and Asians had a mutual outcome on all groups.
The atrocities that were meted out upon the indigenous Americans triggered off mass movement of the indigenous people. Smith (2006) points out that the migration of the American people towards the west was one of the greatest in the history of humanity.
Smith observes that the first wave of migration away from the coastal colonies of the Atlantic Ocean started during the early days when the indigenous nations were rebelling against the British rule. It is important to note that these series of migrations comprised of multitudes of settlers including Anglo-Americans, American-born and immigrants from other lands including Latin America, Asia and even Africa Smith (2006).
Smith (2006) argues that for about one hundred years during which the boundaries of the nation appeared endless the ideas and attitudes of the American were shaped in various important ways. When families found out that things were not working well for them they just assembled their belongings and migrated in search of more fertile soil, nicer climate or a better chance to succeed as merchants, farmers or craftsmen Smith (2006).
Most Americans valued the idea of beginning a new life and thus people became movers. It is during this period of wide spread migrations that settlers including Anglo-Americans moved southeastern into what would become Alabama, Mississippi and Florida after the Spanish surrendered this land to United States in 1819 Smith (2006).
Expansion of Slavery in America
There was urgent need for labor to grow crops like corn for subsistence and tobacco for export in various place settled by the settlers. Later there was need for cheap labor in the plantation farms established.
Zinn (2010) for instance argues that by 1619 the Virginians were desperate for labor to grow adequate corn to survive. And since it was it was not easier to enslave the Indians who had their farms and their lives, black slaves were the answer for many settler farms in various places. Jewett and Allen (2007) points out that the first enslaved Africans arrived in Florida in 1526 under the Spanish control.
Most of the slaves who arrived during the period of Spanish control, 1526 to 1763 came from various African regions like Congo, Mandinga and Carabaldi nations. Later during the period of English control from 1763 to 1784 many slaves were sold to English planters for rice and indigo plantations Jewett and Allen (2007).
These authors assert that during the period between 1830s and 1860s the growth and spreading out of slavery in Florida was comparable to that of Texas Jewett and Allen (2007) So that by 1845 when Florida entered the Union, slavery was steadfastly cemented as part of the socio- economic and political basis of the society.
Seminoles was one of the sedentary tribal groups that lived in the South during the expansion of the Anglo-Americans western expansion. They were well-known by their permanence and their very old Agricultural way of life. Seminoles for a considerable period of time had continuous conflicts with illegal settlers and like others they were slowly but surely incorporated into the European system.
Between 1816 and 1818 the First Seminole War was fought in Spanish Florida. The main dispute entailed raids into Georgia by Seminoles and fugitive slaves who had earlier escaped to Spanish Florida. The US gave up its claim to Texas and Spain abandoned claims to Oregon. The signing of this treaty marked the end of Spanish control upon the Seminoles and the beginning of relatively new free life.
Hispanics refers to all persons who identify themselves as Hispanics or Latino. They have their basis in the Hispanic nations of Latin America or in Spain. Gutfield (2002) points out that the Hispanics were not seen as hindrances to expansion by the Anglo-Americans who were determined at all costs to acquire land and wealth for themselves at the expense of other social and local ethnic groups.
Gutfield asserts that until the late 1950s the United States appeared ignorant of the fact that the Hispanics had a cultural identity of their own. Limerick as cited in Gutfield (2002) is concerned over the fact that, up to date, the present attitude towards the Hispanic way of life does not give it its fair place, at the core of West American history.
Gutfield (2009) explains that the reason for this state of affairs is what he calls “…the dual attitude of Anglo-Americans to this culture.” (p.87) Anglo-Americans perceive this culture as an old legacy characterized by features like missions, ranches and conquistadors. They also depict Hispanics as a population that is damned to stick at the bottom strata of the socioeconomic structure.
Therefore, to a considerable extent the present position and social status of Hispanics trace its roots to expansion and activities of Anglo-Americans in the past. As Anglo-Americans moved westward they sought to override the cultures of other people like Hispanics, Indians, Asians and Africans.
It is important to remember that repression of the Hispanics was part and parcel of a bigger picture that comprised others that came into contact with Anglo-Americans as they sought to displace others during their west ward movement.
Gutfield (2002) notes that it is not just the Hispanics who were repressed; he articulates that all races including Anglo-Americans existed in the West while trying to disregard the existence of other races. This particular attitude became the fertile soil upon which seeds of racism which is one of the greatest evils of the wider United States society were sowed and nurtured (Gutfeld, 2002).
Hispanics and many other different ethnic groups therefore took part in the epic story of Western conquest. Led by Anglo-Americans; Hispanics, Indians, Asians as well as the African Americans crafted their own descriptions of the great story Gutfield (2002).
According to Gutfield, all the tales however shared a common denominator because all groups measured their success in terms of amassing wealth and property. This fact largely explains struggle for resources between and among the original inhabitants, social groups like Hispanics and the incoming Anglo-Americans who were moving westward.
For instance, Vickers (2006) argues that conflict between local Americans and Europeans over land was one of the most common themes in the history of the British American mainland colonies from 1622 onwards. Gutfield (2002) concludes that even though each group endeavored to lay emphasis on the distinctiveness of its story, sharing life within the same environment made that distinction practically impossible.
European expansion in the Americas had far reaching social, economic and political impacts upon the indigenous Americans and other social groups who without their knowledge and consent were forced to embrace European ways of life. As briefly discussed above, Anglo-American expansion ended up shaping the historical experiences of the various ethnic groups in many ways.
Garrigus, J.D., Morris, C., Knight, F. W., Goetz, R., and Burnard, T. (2010). Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.
Gutfeld, R. (2002) .American exceptionalism: the effects of plenty on the American experience. Eastbourne East Sussex: Sussex Academic Press.
Jewett, Clayton E. and Allen, John O. (2004). Slavery in the South: a state-by-state history. New York, NY: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Norton, M.B., Sheriff, C., Katzman, D.M., Blight, D. W., Chudacoff, H., and Logevall, F. (2008). A people and a nation: a history of the United States. New York: Cengage Learning.
Smith, Robert W. (2006). Westward Movement. Westminster, CA : Teacher Created Resources.
Vickers, D. (2006). A Companion to Colonial America. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Zinn, H. (2010).History is a Weapon. A people’s History of the United States. London: HarperCollins.