The American continents are some of the most diverse in the modern world made up of among others Natives Americans, posterity of colonists from Europe and scion of African slaves. There are also many people of Asian descent in the Americas now. However, while the Americans now are made up of people from the world, in the pre-Columbian times, most of its inhabitants were Native Americans who build magnificent cities and temples and had elaborate cultures of their own. Some lived in semi-independent family groups while others lived in empires such as the Aztec Empire that was magnificent in its splendor. America has also passed through the colonization after the Columbia landed on the shores, and then slavery before evolving into the superpower that the country is today. While the Americas are a legacy of the decimation of the native population and their cultures, immigration, and slavery, the countries seem to a large extent to have overcome those challenges in their creation of the modern America.
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The Native Americas are the people had lived in the new world for thousands of years. Historians believe that these people had been cut off from the rest of the world before the voyages of the first European to land on the shores of the Americas in the 1400s led by Christopher Columbus. In the coming centuries, after the voyage of Columbus, Europeans established themselves in the Americas resulting in the decimation of the cultures of these ancient people.
Some of the people who established empires in the pre-European arrival in the Americas include the Mayas, the Aztecs, and the Incas as well as other thousands of communities that were to be found all over the continents. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Mayas had lived in Mesoamerica for thousands of years in central Mexico and flourished between the fourteen and sixteenth centuries C.E. The capital’s name was Tenochtitlan and formed one of the real wonders of the ancient world in the application of science in its construction as it was built on a swampy lake. They established the empire after they borrowed culture from the ancient people of Toltec. In the valley of Mexico, the Aztecs established a culture that flourished so much that they were the terror of their enemies, politically, socially and militarily. Later, their empire was to include many cities, with the largest and, most beautiful being the capital city Tenochtitlan. While the history of the later Aztecs is clear, the earliest ones did not keep a written record and thus it is impossible to know much about them without the use if the meets and leads that were passed by word of mouth.
Between the 12th and the 13th centuries Aztecs moved to the valley of Mexico. Their leader was Tenoch. With the group hated by their neighbors, the only place they could live was on a swampy island in Lake Texcoco. Their capital city was to be built on this lake from which they expanded to the neighboring lands through conquest. However, this was not easy as their location ensured that they strangled with diseases and food. To counter this, they developed the Chinampas system of farming which made their land productive.
In the fourteen century, Aztecs chose Acamapichtli to be their emperor so as to consolidate their land throughout they had conquered from tier neighbors while also giving them someone to rally on as they conquered their neighbors. The centralization of authority through the emperor enabled them to transition from a small tribe of mercenaries to one of the best armies in Mesoamerica. The increased military might enable them to subjugate the neighboring states to the extent that by 1520s Aztecs occupied more than neighboring states who all had to offer special tax to the Aztec empire.
When the Spaniards arrived Mexico, they found some states in direct Aztec subjugation, and others free. The disunity among the Native Americans then ensured that the first ones were defeated by the Spanish the enemies of Aztecs, these to act as the guides of the Spaniards. In 1521, the Spaniards defeated the Aztecs and their allies. In their plunder, they destroyed what was one of the then world’s most magnificent cities. The empire collapsed.
The Maya Empire
Another state that preceded the advent of Europeans into the Americas was the Maya Empire. The Maya territory was even larger than the Aztecs. Their lads covered land mass all the way from the modern Mexican state of Yucatan to the modern countries of Guatemala and the El Salvador. While this region never integrated into one state or empire, the socio-political systems were similar. The Mayas developed a fairly advanced system of watching the sun and other terrestrial objects such as the stars and the planets which were used to calculate issues such as calendars. Their religion centered on the triadic pyramids which often served as temples.
In spite of their advanced culture, the Maya were not politically united like the Aztecs. Thi made the conquest by Europeans easy. The Spanish conquistadores and the neighboring tribes would join and overcome a particular Maya state. By the late 1600s, all the former land in which the Maya had loved was effectively ruled by the Spanish. ‘
Another great civilization that formed in the Americans then was in Inca Empire. Historians consider the Inca Empire to have been the largest empire in the South America, and one of the biggest emperies in the world then. The capital city of the empire was at a city in the modern nation of Peru known as Cusco. For a period totaling more than a century mid-1400s to the mid-1500s, the Incas had used methods ranging from war to peaceful co-option to carve for themselves an empire. The Inca Empire stretched across a considerable part of the west part of the South America incorporating regions that now form modern day countries such as Equator, Peru as well as Argentina, and Chile. The empire was also united by religion, the worship of the god of the sun known as Inti with the king himself considered by the population as being a descendant of the sun.
The empire was to fall into a civil war between the sons of Huayan Capac, combined with the devastating effect of smallpox led to the decimation of many people. The civil war and smallpox weakened the state for conquest by the Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro and his brothers. They managed to conquer the empire wheel still largely outnumbered by the Inca due to their better military technology and the support they got from other natives home the Inca had long subjugated. Thus, like the other two civilizations, the coming of the Europeans signaled the end of their political autonomy and most of the times, their cultural autonomy.
In the North, the Birth conquered many of the existing tribes of natives. In the north, it was much easier for the British, the French and the Spaniards to conquer the natives there as more often than not; they did not have the large empires that had been the hallmark of South and Central America. Thus, in less than three hundred years since the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the American coast, most of the land had been colonized by one European power or another.
Exploration, Colonial Days and Slavery
The Spanish, in a bid to outdo their local rivals the Portuguese started equipping and financing ships to explore a way to the Asia through the sea. In one of such expeditions, the Cristopher Columbus landed on the North American coast. In the ensuing decades and centuries, the European powers moved to colonize the lands they had newly discovered. The Europeans who colonized the Americas after conquering the native people, discovered that the Americas were good for agricultural production. They subsequently established plantation agriculture in the Caribbean, North and South America. The plantations grew cotton, sugar, and tobacco, which were very profitable. The plantations also needed large and intensive sources of labor which the Native Americans did not seem capable. The need for labor sparked the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Slavery led to shipping of more than twelve million people from the West African coast to the Americas between the 1500s and 1867. At first, the demand for slave labor was not very high as the plantation owners used a combination of slavery and other forms of labor provision such as indentured and free, paid labor. However, the relative cheapness of the slavery made it the preferred labor type in less than a century. Eltis, Lewis, & Sokoloff explains that, however, many people started questioning the morality of the use of slave labor while the British began perceiving it as abhorrent in the nineteenth century. From then onwards, the British and Americans navies commenced enforcing an international ban on slavery in by inspecting some ships from Africa and freeing any African slaves bound in the ships. More significant, the US was to go to a civil war in 1867, one of the chief reasons being the emancipation of slaves in the US. From that point, the use of slaves as a legitimate source of labor collapsed in much of the Americas.
The white people who moved to the American from Europe at first considered themselves to be part of their “mother countries.” However, as it is apparent from the United States deceleration of Independence in 1776, most of the people began drifting from that view after they established themselves in the Americas This led to the British losing all their North American colonies from North America except Canada after the American War of Independence. At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, the Spain also lost most of its colonel possessions in the New World. The Portuguese colonized part of South America, now known as Brazil, was unique in its decolonization process as it retained a monarchy rather than becoming a republic like the rest of the countries. However, this was to be short-lived as the Emperor lost power a few years later and Brazil followed the Republicanism of the rest of the New World.
The modern America is thus a legacy of the conquest of the native population, colonialism, and the slavery. The First and the Second World Wars helped to reshape the world and make it even more pro-America than it already was as the US won the war. The Americas are now home to one of the world’s most powerful nations such as the US and Canada, and some of the highest growing economies such as Brazil. The modern history has also seen the countries in the Americans all gain their independence from their colonial masters. The population in these nations continues to be a combination of the Whites, African-Americans thanks to slavery, and the Native Americans. While in most of the countries, the Native Americans are a very little minority regarding numbers, this is not the case in others such as Bolivia, where there are significant numbers of Native Americans. Partly due to slavery, real or perceived racism is still an issue in some of the nations in the Americas. For instance, in the US and Brazil, the blacks continue to be the poorest people in the land.
However, in spite of the negative legacy the Americas have had, most of the nations have now evolved into thriving democracies. The United States is world’s superpower and largest democracy, while Canada is one of the world’s most developed countries. In South America, except for a few counters such as Venezuela, most have thriving and strong democracies with diversified economies such as Brazil and Argentina.
Immigration, slavery and the decimation of the culture and native people were the earlier legacies of the Americas. Large empires like the Maya, Inca, and the Aztecs once occupied the region now known as the Americas while in the North, while there were no large empires the advent of Europeans. The coming of the Europeans wiped away these empires and most of their population and culture. The colonization of the Americas led to slavery as the Europeans sought to make a profit out their new world possession. This was to end in the nineteenth century. Moreover, while these nations had at first been deemed as part of their “mother” country, they later rebelled leading to their independence. In the modern world, most are thriving democracies while the world’s superpower and one of the world’s largest economies, come from the Americas.
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