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European Colonization of the American Continent

Updated on November 2, 2011

When Hernando Cortes first saw the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan South of the Lake of the Moon in North America, he was stunned to find the most magnificent and impressive city he has ever seen. The grandeur of which is incomparable to any European cities and far more populate than either London or Seville by at least five times (Stannard, 1992, p.3, 4). However upon entry of the colonizers on this exclusive territory, sheer devastation.


Even before the Europeans set foot on Northern America, its native inhabitants were already a considerable advanced society engaging in commerce, politics and indulgent lifestyle (Stannard, 1992, p.4). But upon entry of the conquistadors, pre-Columbus time, utter destruction began. At first, it was widely believed by scholars that it was more because of the diseases that the Europeans carried with them to the new world. But further research suggest that the abrupt decrease of the indigenous populace is greatly associated with the purposeful genocide that began lying waste the American natives, driving them to the brink of extinction (Stannard, 1992, p.xii). Not content by just killing, their appetite for brutality is shown by various acts of violence not just towards the men but towards the women and children as well. Women being devoured by dogs, children up to the age of four being rip to two, and men tortured and brutally murdered for amusement (Stannard, 1992, p.xiii).

Slave Trade

Another kind of atrocious harassment is seen on the slave trade, mostly consisting of displaced Africans. According to Rediker, during the height of slave trades, slave rebellions are exceedingly common if not expected. A voyage in extreme conditions, challenge the human limitations that would bring prosperity to the limited few, and hellish nightmare or death for most of the people on board. An example of this unfortunate soul is Captain Tomba (Rediker, 2008, p.14).

Captain Tomba stood out from other slaves not just because of his outward appearance—tall, masculine, and brave looking, but because of his stubborn and apparent defiance to authority. Once, on a line-up for inspection aimed at prospective buyers, he showed utter disgust and remained uncooperative. For his behavior, he was awarded a brutal whipping. But the punishment only added to his desire to escape from his captors. Captain Tomba planned and rallied his co-captives to his campaign but only two, a man and a woman, joined him. The plan failed though he managed to kill a few sailors.

Impact on Contemporary Times

The obvious effect of the colonization of North America, particularly in the US today is the displacement of Native Americans. They are now considered minority as compared to those that descended from European conquistadors as a direct result of the genocide hundreds of years ago. The dichotomy between Whites and African-Americans seemed to be a thing of the past. The success of Obama is indeed proof that these people who were descendents of slaves enjoy the same privileges, the same rights and equal opportunity speaks of the progress that had happened in the US in terms acculturation on both ends of the European-descent Americans and African Americans.


Rediker, M. (2008). The Slave Ship: A Human History. New York: Penguin Books.

Stannard, D. E. (1992). American Holocaust. The Conquest of the New World. USA: Oxford University Press.


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