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CHAPTER 6 Colonization: The Populators of the Indies The Meaning and Aims of Colonization Just asthe discovery merged into conquest, conquest blended into colonization. Rendered by contemporaries as poblacion, colonization retained its medieval significance. It meant the settlement of newly gained territories but for particular purposes and in particular ways. It required the establishment of a Christian republic where men lived in polity and justice according to their rank and station and made the land bear fruit. And it remained a good and desirable thing. It extended Christendom, increased the patrimonies and revenues of princes, and "ennobled" the land. Indeed, it was the logical and desired end of discovery and conquest, despite the notion still persisting in otherwise respectable histories that, whereas the English came to America to settle and till the soil, the Spaniards came only to plunder.1 The mystique of poblacion persisted long after Spanish dominion in the Indies had passed. In 1853, the Argentine statesman Juan Bautista Alberdi expressed it in his famous aphorism, "gobernar es poblar" ("to govern is to populate").2 In the Indies poblacion acquired a new dimension. It involved not only colonization by Europeans but participation by indigenous peoples in a multiple role that Queen Isabella defined in 1503 in instructions to Nicolas de Ovando, the first royal govenor of Espanola: Item: Because we desire that the Indians be converted to our Holy Catholic Faith and their souls be saved and because this is the greatest benefit that we can desire for them, for this end it is necessary that they be instructed in the things of our faith, in order that they will come to a knowledge of it and you 108 C O L O N I Z A T I O N : P O P U L A T O R S O F T H E I N D I E S 1 0 9 will take much care to see that this is accomplished. . . . Item: Because for mining gold and performing other work which we have ordered done, it will be necessary to make use of the service of the Indians, compelling them to work in the things of our service, paying to each one a wage which appears just to you . . . .3 To these precepts, the queen shortly added another: We ordain and order that our Governor of the said Indies, undertakes with much diligence to see that pobladones be established in which the Indians can live together, as do the persons who live in these our Kingdoms [in Spain].4 Fourteen years later Father Bartolome de Las Casas restated this aim more explicitly. He recommended that forty Spanish farmers with their wives be settled in Indian communities in the Antilles to provide a model of industry and thrift for the indigenes, and predicted: Thus will the land be made fruitful and its people multiply, because they will plant all manner of trees and vegetables. Your Majesty's revenues will be increased , and the islands ennobled and be, therefore, the best and richest in the world. And if as time goes on the Indians should prove themselves able to live alone and govern themselves, and serve your Majesty in the same way as your other vassals do, this is provided for in the laws.5 In short Indians were not only to be put to work to support Spanish colonization but were to be taught to live in Christian polity, to be acculturated, as modern anthropologists say. And thereby they would become populators in their own right. The European Component Influences Governing Emigration to the Indies The Spaniards had some preconceptions about how to go about colonizing the Indies, but the changing numbers and qualities of the populators themselves conditioned the methods and instruments employed. Beginningwith the European element, its formation occurred through immigration and natural increase. The gross number of immigrants to the Indies and their qualities depended on both individual initiatives and royal policies. Individuals and families went to the NewWorld for diverse reasons: to win a fortune, to improvetheir status, to escape royal justice or the attentions of the Holy Office, to serve God as missionaries and the king as royal officials, or to accompany or find husbands. The crown had fairly definite ideas about who should go and who should not. In 1 1 0 C O L O N I Z A T I O N : P O P U L A T O R S O F T H E...


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