Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Who were worse, the English colonizers or the Spanish colonizers?

A lot of useful information in this item on topics i have discussed long ago.  I do think that the population of the americas before contact or at least at it maxima perhaps centuries earlier was a high fraction of 100,000,000.

The post contact population collapse was severe, but also seriously underestimates the impact of slaving operations in the first century after contact and before English settlement during the seventeenth century.

Throw in the then steady influx of Irish 'slaves' and we have a growing gene pool intermarrying with native women.  All this led to much larger genetic absorption than easily understood.

To put this in perspective.  A native women with a trapper husband produces a half and half.  These children then marry other whites and the offspring suddenly have a quarter indian genetics.  Most have no difficulty in fitting in to white society and we have only gone through two short generations. in around thirty years.

The lifeway of the indians did  not support a large thriving family either.  While the small homestead certainly did.  Thus we had a population boom of white settlers who easily absorbed many native women in the manner just described.  

None of this demanded masacures after the initial population collapse.  ..

Who were worse, the English colonizers or the Spanish colonizers?


The best guess is that the order of brutality of colonial regimes in the Americas is Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch, French. There are a lot of people who are quite sure that the Anglo yoke was infinitely worse than the Spanish yoke. For their evidence, they a seem to rely on a lot of conventional wisdom informed by movies, supposed humanitarian mandates issued by the Vatican, and the fact that the fact that populations of the US and Canada and Mexico have separate appearances as proof that their assertion is correct. The logic is that the separate phenotypes are proof that the Anglo settlers simply killed the people they encountered, whereas the Spanish did not. 

An interesting curiosity in this debate is the location of the largest Indian massacre that we know of in what is now the US. It’s in modern Alabama, where about 2,500 were killed. Why did the British do this, or was it the Americans? Well, they didn’t, the Spanish did. 

What about the second largest massacre? 

That is the Awa'uq Massacre in modern Alaska. The Russians did that. 

While there were certainly many English massacres, like the Mystic massacre - Wikipedia of 400–700, the Spaniards killed more people in one battle, the Fall of Tenochtitlan - Wikipedia, than the total of all the Indian wars north of the Rio Grande of the last 200 years. 

So, why exactly did the US and Canada have Anglo appearances, while Latin America had a more indigenous look? 

Well, this is the kind of settlement you would find in 1500 in the area that became New York City. 

This is what you would find in the locale that became Mexico City. 

The fact is that there were comparatively few inhabitants in the regions the British(and French and Germans) settled. They had scattered agricultural settlements, but most of it was occupied by hunter\gatherers, which have extremely small population densities compared to agriculturalists. The largest pre-Columbian settlements were the farming Mississippian mound builders, who vanished at about 1150 AD, and their largest city is estimated to have housed about 20,000–30,000 inhabitants. Without draft animals and heavy plows, you can certainly farm, but it’s difficult to unlock the rich heavy soils that exist in the the American Midwest. 

Some very generous estimates once said there were as many as 10 million pre-Columbians in Canada and the US, but the more we learn, it looks like quite a smaller number, perhaps even under 1 million, but a reasonable guess is about 4 million in 1491. Now, compare that to the rest of Latin America. Mexico alone had 20–30 million inhabitants in 1491, and probably at least as many in the rest of Latin America. 

It’s reasonable to think that the vast majority of both pre-Columbian populations died in virgin soil epidemics like influenza, measles, small pox, cholera, ect, but this goes for both populations. If 90% of the 4 million or so above the Rio Grande died, you are left with 400k. If 90% of Latin America’s population died, you still have 4 million. DNA analysis of modern Mexicans shows that while slightly over half of the DNA is Spanish, the maternal ancestry of the population is about 90% Amerindian. The implication of this is mostly male Spanish settlers with Amerindian wives and concubines. The relatively small settler population of mostly male settlers from Spain and Portugal was spread out over the South American continent, the Caribbean and Mexico with 4 million other inhabitants. The larger settler populations of England, Wales, Scotland, France, and eventually Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, were spread out with perhaps 400,000 remaining inhabitants. Also, unlike the Spanish and Portuguese, these settlers generally came as family units, and Amerindian wives and concubines were less common, particularly among the English. This explains the large phenotypic differences that exist today. Also, places with much lower pre-columbian population densities, even within Latin America, like Chile and Argentina, look much different than places like Peru or Mexico. 

Another bit of folk wisdom is that the Spanish colonies were much gentler because the Catholic Church, which they argue was very charitable, and outlawed slavery too. I have no way of knowing the relative charitableness of the Anglicans and Catholics centuries ago, but today, all the most charitable countries are Anglo settled countries. 

Did the Catholic Church have slavery outlawed in 1542? Perhaps technically, but until the end of the US Civil war, Mexicans in the US southwest held slaves at similar rates to Anglos living in the eastern states. Of course, their slaves weren’t African, but Amerindian. 

This map shows importation of Africans to various locales. You can see that the line to British Jamaica, Spanish Cuba, and French Haitai are around the same size, as is the one to the Persian Gulf. The one to the US is somewhat smaller, and the one to Mexico is smaller still. Brazil’s arrow is is gigantic. So this implies that there should today be 10–20x as many black people in Brazil as in the US, but there are only about 2x the number. The reason, I have been told, is that the business model of the Portuguese didn’t assume these people would survive for long periods. It was assumed that they would suffer very high rates of death.

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