The colonization of North America continent has a turbulent and contradictory history. For more than three centuries the seekers for new lands, better life and adventures had explored the continent brought dramatic changes into lives of indigenous Indian people. French and English colonists were among those Europeans who influenced the continent the most. While both colonization waves were aimed at the seizure of resources and involved annihilation of local people, French and English ways of colonization had some differences.
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The French colonization of modern Canadian territories started yet in the XVI century. The first French colony of Quebec was established in 1608. The French rapidly developed political and economic relations with the Indians, making alliances with the locals who lived in the area around Lakes Huron and Erie (Murrin et al. 32). The main driving force of the French colonization initially was not the seizure of land but a pursuit of valuable fur (Russell 30).
The French established control over the fur and fish trade with local tribes; precious furs were exchanged for cheap trifles and alcohol. The French Jesuits who came to Canada first in 1611 tried to turn Indians to Catholicism and preached obedience to the colonists (Englebert and Teasdale 113). The French were also tricky political dealers as they worked out many schemes of how to make clashes between local tribes. When at the end of XVII century the Iroquois Indians started to expand and assimilate western Indians around Lakes Erie and Huron, the French interrupted. They supplied the Algonquian tribe with firearms and alcohol and helped them to fight the Iroquois assault (Murrin et al. 77).
The French were wise enough to make the Indians think that they are treated as equal partners, their “success in the interior rested on negotiation, not force” (Murrin et al. 77). However, not all Indian tribes were eager to be partners with the French. During 1712-1737, there were numerous clashes between the French and the hostile Fox Indian tribe, the French even with the help of their Indian allies could not conquer the Fox (Cave 115).
Unlike French, the English colonization was mass, as the bourgeois revolution of the XVI century caused landlessness of the peasantry in England, and they needed new lands (Russell 31). The first English colony, Jamestown in the Chesapeake Bay, was established in 1607 by the Virginia Company, who aimed to find gold there. The “Mayflower” arrival to the Massachusetts coast in 1620 was the beginning of mass flows of English settlers (Murrin et al. 38).
Initially, the Indians were rather friendly to the newcomers and allowed them to live on the Indian land, but the English aimed to own the land and “to transform the American wilderness into land for cash crops or to recreate an Old World society adjusted to Calvinist ideas” (Fisher 19). The Powhatan Indian tribes with whom the English first encountered on the new land were angry of the Englishmen actions and started to fight the oppressors (Mancall and Merrell 312).
The English killed and scalped their victims. Moreover, they brought alcohol and epidemic diseases such as smallpox, measles, and cholera to which the Native Americans had no immunity (Mancall and Merrell 201). The Englishmen were the ideologists of Indian reservations. In exchange for peace, they forced the local Indian tribes and other tribes to come under the English rule (Murrin et al. 67). To the end of XVIII century, the English took over a substantial amount of the French territories in Canada and made the Indians outlaws in their native land (Cave 167).
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Overall, it can be seen than treatment of the Indians in both New France and New England territories was far from fair and respectful. While the French colonizers focused on the search for new economic opportunities and personal gain, the English ones aimed to exterminate the local population to occupy more and more land.
Cave, Alfred. The French and Indian War. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2004. Print.
Englebert, Robert, and Guillaume Teasdale. French and Indians in the Heart of North America, 1630-1815. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State UP, 2013. Print.
Fisher, Donald. Lacrosse: A History of the Game. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002. Print.
Mancall, Peter, and James Merrell. American Encounters: Natives and Newcomers from European Contact to Indian Removal, 1500-1850. New York, NY: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Murrin, John, Paul Johnson, James McPherson, Alice Fahs, Gary Gerstle, Emily Rosenberg, and Norman Rosenberg. Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People, Concise Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2014. Print.
Russell, James. Class and Race Formation in North America. New, Expanded ed. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto, 2009. Print.