The countries of Spain, France, and England chose different methods of going about the colonization and conquest of the New World in the 17th century. The countries government and values reflected their methods and means of making the New World work to their benefit. All of the countries were driven by such motives as gold, silver, religious freedom, and a route to the East Indies. The exploration and conquest of the New World differed began with the Spanish in the early 1500s, but the French and English were rapidly gaining in the seventeenth century.
Spain had laid vast claims to the New World which they acquired with an iron fist. They began with Columbus, who, in 1492 was sailing in search of a passage to the East Indies. The true conquest began with the conquistadors such as Francisco Pizzaro, Juan Ponce De Leon, and Hernando Cortes. These men crushed whoever opposed them and wiped out native people and their culture. Although it was difficult to maintain such a vast and discontinuous empire, the Spanish first set about the feat by means of appointing viceroys to rule over the land for the monarchs to whom the empire officially belonged. The empire was in fact so large that the system of viceroys quickly proved insufficient, and so the conquistadors and local officials formed the encomienda system, which forced local Native Americans to work for them. By the beginning of the seventeenth century, over two hundred thousand Europeans had arrived in the New World. The majority were Spanish, who had over one hundred and twenty five thousand African slaves working under them. Missions were established across Florida and New Mexico. The missionaries intermarried with the Native Americans and began to protect and educate the Native Americans. The natives lated revolted against the Spanish, and a new sort of a mix of Spanish and Native American culture was formed.
France did not have nearly such a widespread claim in the New World as Spain had.