A dating of human presence in North America could not be determined exactly. The most common assumption is that Asian peoples in the period between 30,000 and 10,000 years BC. left Siberia across the Bering Strait, which was then landlocked and connected Asia with America. Studies in the late 1900-t, has, however, suggested that immigration already began up to 60,000 years ago. These peoples spread across the American continents and developed a rich variety of cultures, which with the later European invasion together have been called Native American. The history of the North American Indians is treated under Indians (North America); see also countryaah for more about North America including how many countries there are in North America.
Forms of governance
The main problem of colonization was to obtain and ensure control of productive labor. In the Spanish colonies a special form of organization developed, encomienda; the crown thereby maintained ownership of the areas discovered, but handed over the tribute services of the indigenous Indian population to an encomendero, in return for which it ensured the existence of the Indians and brought them up in the Christian faith. Failing administration as well as population decline led, however, to large areas in the 1500-t. came into private hands in the form of large estates, haciendas, which the Crown sought to tax. Attached to the estates were a large number of landless Native American farm workers.
In the French colonies, the so-called seigneurs system was created, which established mutual obligations between lords and lords. In practice, feudal taxes played a minor role, while the system established a French form of culture which, despite modest immigration from the mother country, proved to be very viable; approximately Thus, 75% of the French colonists in the Québec area still lived in the mid-1800’s under the system.
For the English colonies on the mainland, it became crucial that the right to land was granted subject to a high degree of autonomy, whether the colony was organized as a corporation (Massachusetts), as a royal colony (Virginia) or as private property (Pennsylvania). The political culture of the colonies took shape in the 1600’s. at the same time with several system changes in England, which made central control difficult, and already in the 1700’s. the colonies were so different that attempts to enforce uniform legislation ran into resistance. The New England colonies, corresponding to the present states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, were characterized by urban communities that, on a strong Protestant basis, emphasized mutual social obligations; a feudal structure with tenants and landowners did not exist. The political ideal was the city meeting, which was based on the notion of an agreement reached between the colonists and not between the regent and his subjects. In contrast, the so-called Middle Colonies, which included the later states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, were open to multiple nationalities, religious minorities, and economic interests, which organized themselves to gain political influence. In Virginia and the later established colonies of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, large plantations were established with an intensive production of a single export crop, especially tobacco, cotton or rice. As in the Caribbean, they were run by slaves, but while the owners of the Caribbean plantations most often resided in London, viz. far away from the unhealthy climate.
While the Spanish crown from the beginning hoped to rule its distant possessions through personal and religious loyalty, the French sought to maintain control over its territories through a developed administrative apparatus. England’s interests were mainly economic, and the so-called Navigation Laws sought to link trade in overseas possessions to state power; political and religious considerations were subordinate. The result was a high degree of local self-government with institutions in each of the colonies, which over time were harmonized after the British model. Royal governors were appointed from London, but despite the establishment of an appointed council similar to the Upper House, they relied on assemblies elected by a wider section of the population. See abbreviationfinder for abbreviations and history related to North America.
The end of colonial rule
By 1750, each of the dominant political forms of culture had stabilized. However, the picture changed dramatically with the Franco-Indian War 1754-1763. The British and American colonists conquered Canada, while Spain took over French interests in the Mississippi Valley. Both Britain and Spain then wanted better control of their possessions. Tightening of the Navigation Laws, however, aroused the wrath of the colonial elite and helped trigger the American Revolution 1775-1783, which led to the independence of the United States. Opponents of the revolution, loyalists, fled to Canada, where British rule began an anglicization; the ground was thus laid for an antagonism between the French and English sections of the population, which continued even after the formation of the Canadian federal state in 1867.
From the 1760’s, Spain sought to liberalize the colonial trade and sent out stewards, i.e. royally appointed officials with financial and administrative powers. During and after the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, resistance to Spanish rule increased, and in 1821, Mexico declared its independence; Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua were first under Mexico before becoming independent. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the United States took over French territory between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, with Spain being purchased 1819-1821 Florida, and with the Mexican-American WarIn 1846-1848, the area came from Texas to California under the United States. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain was expelled from Cuba, and the United States annexed Puerto Rico. The European colonial rule in North America was thus replaced by the dominant position of the United States.