There are at least two answers to the question of how the mode of colonization in Texas may have affected its present-day fortunes. The first is that, as a general rule, the Spanish mode of colonization seems to have been more damaging than the British mode. The second is that the colonization of Texas, even though it was done in the Spanish way rather than the British way, seems in this case to have permanently shaped the region’s growth and culture by nearly eradicating its native inhabitants, clearing the way for white settlers to establish entirely new cities and population hubs.

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To the first point, it is generally believed that mercantilist colonization may have been less problematic than extractive colonization. The reason for this is that in mercantilist colonization, there is (at least in principle) some sort of exchange being undertaken, whereas in extractive colonization, the idea is that the colonizer simply moves in and takes the resources of the colonized land (“A Typology of Colonialism | Perspectives on History | AHA”).

The trouble with this perspective is that there is a hidden variable to account for: extractive colonization has generally focused on areas with relatively untapped natural resources, whereas mercantilist colonization, by its nature, focuses on populated areas (Lange, Mahoney, and vom Hau). In other words, even if we were to say that extractive colonization is ten times as bad to each person living under its rule, we would have to grapple with the fact that a hundred times as many people would be targeted by mercantilist colonizers. (These numbers are obviously very rough estimates.)

As a result of this tendency, scholars have found that Spanish colonization generally was worse for the development of the colonized areas (Lange, Mahoney, and vom Hau). It must be remembered, also, that even under the mercantilist-extractive distinction that we might draw between British and Spanish colonization, Spanish colonization was still “extractive” in the sense that it sought to use its colonies as a source of revenue. The Philippines are a great example of this (Merchant). This is what has had the greatest effects on Texas today. As a result of oppressive Spanish colonization, many of the native inhabitants of Texas were driven out. Certainly, those that remained were left weaker than they would have been without Spanish intervention, which left them unable to hold onto their land when the United States acquired Texas and began aggressive settlement throughout the state.

Thus, we see that the “extractive” style in which Texas was colonized has affected its political culture and economy today in two central ways. The first is that it resulted in the “vacancy” of the state, as indigenous inhabitants were driven out or killed, for white settlers. Thus we see a relatively small proportion of Native American inhabitants of the state today, even though at one point the region was home to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Native Americans. The second way is that it has resulted in the relative poverty of the state. Of course, Texas is not a poor state compared to others in the United States. But it is poorer than it could be if the resources of that state had been used within that state (to build early infrastructure, to encourage commerce, and so on) rather than “extracted” for the benefit of Spain. In short, the Spanish mode of colonization, which was “extractive” even though it was in principle based on mercantilism, harmed Texas and resulted in a less diverse and less prosperous state today than would exist had the Spanish not colonized it or not extracted its resources.

  • “A Typology of Colonialism | Perspectives on History | AHA.” Web. 19 Feb. 2019.
  • Lange, Matthew, James Mahoney, and Matthias vom Hau. “Colonialism and Development: A Comparative Analysis of Spanish and British Colonies.” American Journal of Sociology 111.5 (2006): 1412–1462. (Atypon). Web.
  • Merchant, Pranav. “Economic Effects of the Spanish Conquest of the Philippines and Mercantile Theory.” Stanford Univ Res J 9 (2012): 53–59. Print.