Chapters 24 & 25 Web Questions

Below please find some insightful questions on Chapters 24 & 25 written by your classmate, Daniel Chitrik.

Slave cutting sugar cane. Etching; 1799. Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, France

1) The Spanish crown established two main centers of authority in the Americas, and had a viceroy exercise control from each of these centers. Although these viceroys held considerable power, they had to answer questions to the king, and were subjected to the review of courts known as audiencias. Thus, the king of Spain ensured that the viceroys would not become too independent. Another law the Spanish government implemented was that a fifth of all silver mined was taxed to the crown. Why do you think these viceroys and colonizing Spaniards not revolt against their king earlier than they did?


2) History relates that Hernan Cortes made his way from Veracruz to the island city of Tenochtitlan, the beautiful Aztec capital. At first Cortes was friendly with the Aztec king Montezuma, however, eventually Cortez waged war against him. Why did Montezuma ever allow Cortes to enter his capital? Didn’t he see Cortes with his army? Do you think he must have heard reports about the Europeans trying to conquer the New World? Or did Montezuma not understand European intentions?


3) Before 1600, the Atlantic slave trade operated on a modest scale. During the seventeenth century, slave exports rose dramatically, and by the eighteenth century, over fifty thousand slaves were transported from the African slave markets per year. From beginning to end, the Atlantic slave trade brought over about twelve million slaves to the western hemisphere. Did the Atlantic slave trade start capitalism in Europe? Would the American Revolution ever happen without slaves? What would the Americas in the seventeenth century look like without slaves working in the mines and sugar plantations?


4) The founding fathers fought the revolution on the grounds that “all men created equal,” and they later wrote out the constitution insuring the freedom that free men deserve. Was slavery not hypocrisy to their beliefs? Is the belief that “all men created equal” not antithetical to having slaves?

17 Comments on “Chapters 24 & 25 Web Questions”

  1. Lindsay Poulakos says:

    4) Some of the founding fathers claimed to be appalled by slavery and had wished for it’s abolishment, but many of them were in fact hypocrites that had owned hundreds of slaves themselves; Thomas Jefferson is said to have owned about 650 slaves during his lifetime (Wikipedia). The problem with overcoming the practice of slavery for these men was probably because its roots ran so deep, dating back to the Roman Empire and even being repeatedly mentioned in the Old and New Testament. The idea of owning another human being was thought to be an acceptable and common practice and that same mentality was passed along through generations. Since it had been so deeply engrained in their comfortable lifestyle, it probably made it that much harder to give up. The drafters of the constitution also made it a point to leave out the words “slave” or “slavery”, but thought to slip in a few sections that enforced slave ownership and slave trade. So from this, we can say that they carefully worded the constitution to merely mean that all men may be CREATED equal, but are not subject to be treated as or to exist as equals.

    • daniel chitrik says:

      I agree with all that you wrote, however, it is nonetheless still hard to understand how they could have written those words. Equal means fair for all, impartiality. To consider another human 3/5 of a person is abhorrent and illogical. It may be that they simply did not have the power and hence had to excuse themselves without really answering their questions. Even congress did not have the power to prohibit slavery, as in known in the the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857), in which they ruled that Congress lacked the power to prohibit slavery in its territories. It may be that those words “all men created equal,” were really written begrudgingly, knowing that they were hypocritical words, yet an important statement that they believed the new country must be built on.

  2. N.Calliste says:

    The mentality of owning a slave may have become common practice when the constitution was written, but white men had associated color with slavery not long before it was written. Before the 18th century, the black ‘slaves’ that came over to the Americas were more of indentured servants, where they could could become free of their debt after it was worked off. A majority of the time those indentured servants never became free and died ‘in service’. When the Europeans realized that it would be more profitable to have black men work the fields rather than the natives (who knew the land and could escape) or white indentured servants (who were not as pro performance as the blacks), they just decided to keep the Africans as slaves. The Africans were moved into a new world where the land and language were foreign. Most of them were from different tribes so they couldn’t communicate with each other. The Europeans saw themselves as better than others so by the time the constitution was written the founding fathers (except believe Jefferson who originally wanted the slaves freed) had the same idea that slaves were less like man and more like animals. Back then, white men needed a race to look down on to call themselves dominant; even Asians were looked down on for having coarse hair. So yes, the founding fathers were hypocrites and would probably defend their actions by saying ‘well everyone else was doing it’.

  3. Sheri Greenbaum says:

    Question 4:
    To fight for freedom, and then deny others freedom is most definitely an act of hypocrisy. North American Colonists fought for their freedom from the European powers that controlled them, but after gaining their own freedom, continued to buy and control African slaves. Perhaps the founding fathers were unable to see the similarity of the situation since they were paying for the slaves. Paying to control the life of another human being doesn’t make slavery acceptable. The concept of all men being created equally should not be considered a belief, because it is an obvious fact. People might not all have the same opportunities available to them, but that doesn’t make them any less of a person. Slavery might be over as written in the Constitution, but laws will never be able to change how people think of others. Inequality will always exist because people have always allowed the world to progress following the concept that some people are superior to others. The European colonists did not want to be controlled by the European nobility, but they did think that they were superior to the African slaves; this concept is indeed hypocritical and antithetical.

  4. Tabia Chu says:

    In response to question 2:

    When Cortes arrived to Tenochtitlan, there was a language barrier making communication difficult. Fortunately, multilingual Malintzin voluntarily acted as a translator and an ally. Perhaps when the emperor saw one of their own willingly interacting with these people, a false sense of security formed. There were instances where natives attempted to attack and drive the Spanish forces back, however because they had such a valuable asset amongst them, any attacks were unsuccessful. In the reader, Cortes states that he had taken precautions to prevent getting stranded outside of the mainland by building four brigs (or vessels) as an escape plan if needed. (p4) Cortes expected to be driven out, yet all he was met with were unsuccessful attempts.

    In my opinion, Cortes relied heavily on external factors in his conquest of Aztec. Without the faithful assistance from Don Marina, and the smallpox disease, he probably would not have been successful. (Unless he decided to go the route Pizarro did, and held a “conference” as a trap. Though clever, it was awfully disturbing.) 

    One thing I wonder about is how bad life could have been for Malintzin to make her leave her own kind so readily. Surely she knew of Cortes’ motives once the language barrier was broken. Was it love? She did procreate with him after all. Perhaps it was curiousity and the desire to experience a new culture?

  5. Madiha Rao says:

    Response to Question 2

    I think that Montezuma did not have any idea of the intentions of the Europeans and he allowed them into the capital city because he probably saw some advantage in befriending them. Montezuma probably saw the Spanish guns and sophisticated weapons and thought they could help him strengthen and expand his empire. He probably overlooked the idea that Cortes had an army with him that might attack his city and thought that if he gave the Spanish the gold and valuables they desired, they might return the favor by giving him weapons to maintain and expand his big empire. He probably thought they could become potential political partners that could benefit from one another. If he was interested in maintaining and enlarging his empire, I don’t think he knew about the intentions of the Spanish to conquer his empire. I also think that Montezuma underestimated the ability of Cortes and did not realize how many of his own people disliked him.

  6. YU,ZEXUN says:

    Question 3:
    I think Atlantic slave trade is not the start of capitalism in Europe. According to chapter 23, it mentions the Early Capitalism, which is private parties offer goods and services on a free market, own means of production private initiative, not government control, and supply and demand determines prices. I think this is the basic idea of early capitalism, so before Atlantic slave trade European society was already going toward capitalism, for example The Silk Road. According to WIKIPEDIA, “Silk Road is a modern term referring to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world.” Of course, Atlantic slave trade is playing an important role in formation of capitalism, but that is an only part of formation of capitalism. I believe American Revolution would still happen without slaves, because American Revolution isn’t based on slave. Basically, American Revolution is thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break from Britain. (From WIKIPEDIA) They divide themselves from British Government, and join together to set up a local government. They don’t want to depend on Britain, because Britain limits its colonies to develop their own economy. For instance, A Navigation Acts uses to protect its monopoly; A Stamp Act increases tax on products, and which is used for suppressing colonial development; Britain forbids colonial people move to the West. A series of polices make them feel like a puppet. They were resentful, so they started the America Revolution for freedom. It is hard to say how Americas in the seventeenth century look like without slaves working in the mines and sugar plantations, because nothing is absolute. Even though slaves were the main labor force in Americas, but maybe European would find another way to substitute the slaves as labor force. Americas would become another world without slaves in seventeenth century. The new world maybe better or worse than today, but it is hard to say. If Americas would going to be the same as today, but without slaves work in the mines and sugar plantations, Americas’ development would slow down.

  7. Jemima Georges says:

    2) Hernan Cortes did go into Tenochtitlan with a small army, but he probably did not enter(or so it seemed to the indigineous) with force and brutality as if unjustly encroaching on native territory. There are several reasons why I believe the natives of Tenochtitlan did not act in defense upon the entrance of the Spanish: if the people wanted to stand their ground upon seeing the Europeans they probably did not because of the more advanced weapons that were against them; as previously stated, the Spanish came peacefully and the natives went along with this seeing that these people “meant them no harm”; the Spanish also had interpreters with them, this made it easy to manage their situation and mask their true intentions while also making them again appear “harmless”. Speaking of interpreters, Dona Marina was the most influential individual who helped Cortes take over this city. With her help he was able to evade Native ambushes. Maybe Motecuzoma had heard of the infamous European reputation of colonizing other areas of the Americas and maybe not (most likely not), but for whatever reason, they did secretly plan to take over the Spanish which would have been their best attempt at possibly running the Spanish off their land, to protect their nation, but their clandestine efforts failed.

    The Spanish were extremely tactful in their endeavor to seize Tenochtitlan. Before doing anything they made careful observation of the culture, the people and what they believed to the point that Montecozuma basically “handed over” (in a very unintentional way) a power to the Europeans to control their ways: “I instructed them by my interpreters how mistaken they were in putting their trust in idols…they were well prepared to believe that they had erred somewhat from the true faith…and I as more lately come would know more surely the things that it was right for them to hold and believe than they themselves…if I would instruct them they would do whatever I declared to be best. Mucteczuma and many of the chief men of the city went with me to remove idols, cleanse the chapels, and place images of the saints…” (pg.6, The Shaping of the Modern World). Cortes had the people in the palm of his hands, given this opportunity, he could just about have done whatever he wanted to do. Hence Cortes and his crew effortlessly seized the city given such an advantage where he even had the King involved in the action.

    Montezuma clearly did not understand European intentions since they were so cleverly disguised, leading to the demise of his kingdom.

  8. Gulnaz Aglyamova says:

    2) Personally I don’t believe that Montezuma did not think about Spanish invading and did not predict that they would try to take power. I would assume that he heard about the conquerors before because Hernan Cortez was not the first European who arrived to Mexico (Wikipedia). Maybe the king of the Aztec Empire thought that it would be better to see Spanish army closely and to detect their weaknesses, even though they had guns and they were equipped soldiers (Wikipedia). I think, Montezuma believed that with his intelligence and his faithful people he would eventually change the situation. In addition, he maybe wanted to demonstrate them the huge size of his empire, one glance on which should prevent Spanish from any military actions. However, he didn’t expect that Cortez would act so unhesitatingly despite the fact that he had very small army. In addition, Montezuma and his government had many enemies inside of the empire, who also contributed to his fall. One example is Dona Marina, who did not only provide translation services between Spanish army and indigenous people, but also alerted Heran Cortez about attacks of emperor’s army. Thus, cooperation with native people and also fast spreading European diseases such as smallpox, Hernan Cortez quickly gain a victory, which helped him to gain a status in Spain too.

  9. Samantha Bryant says:

    Response to question # 4

    According to the Websters Dictionary the word equal means having the same rank, importance and rights; and the word slave is defined as a person owned by and completely subjected to another, one bounded by a legalized social institution in which humans are held as property. I strongly believe that slavery was a hypocrisy to our founding fathers belief that “all men are created equally, because the words slave and equal are very contradictory to each other and I believe on the grounds that “all man are create equal” is very anti ethical. The word “all” encompassed humans of all race, creed, ethic and social background. Slaves were owned and were seen inferior to their owners, they were captured, bought and held against their will for cheap labor while their owners gained huge profits, while being subjected to harsh punishment and living in very inhumane condition. The slaves didn’t have the same or equal opportunity as their owners who was always seen as their superior, their master and their owner.

  10. Question 1:

    The viceroys were the King’s representatives and the King make sure that the viceroys would not build personal power and become independent (text). Although the viceroys have immence power they were being reviewed by audiencias, who are considered lawyers. If they have negative reviews they would be severely punished.
    I think that the viceroys, although they were given powers by the King, they were unable to use it at liberty and afraid to do anything wrong because they were closely watch by these lawyers and if caught would be punished, maybe by death, so they had to be careful not to get negative reviews. The King also needed them to make decisions and policies.

  11. Abdul Awal says:

    Atlantic slave trade wasn’t the starting capitalism in Europe. The early capitalism started in Europe before Atlantic slave trade. However, it was a big part in capitalism in Europe because European was making a lot of money by slave trading. I believe that the Americas revolution would happen without slaves because it wasn’t the reason of revolution. American Revolution happened because North America (13 colonies) were trying to be independent form Britain. Britain was on top of power and controlling it colonies badly in different way. It is really hard to imagine what the Americas in the 17th century would look like without slaves working in the mines and sugar plantations. However, I believe that there wouldn’t be any sugar plantations in America without slaves because it’s really tough job, and that time white people were lazy to do hard work by themselves.

  12. Abdul Awal says:

    “All men created equal”, this quote is written by founding fathers and later it written in our constitution to insure the freedom that free men deserve. The word equal means having same right in every different ways such as, freedom of work, speech, and education. Slavery was going on everywhere while this quote was written. Slave didn’t have any rights to do anything because they were bought by owners. They had to do whatever their owner command. White people were superior to the African slaves because slaves were bought by those white people. Founding fathers were white, and they were thinking that it’s acceptable to have slave because you are paying for it. Everyone is created by one God; this is why everyone should be treated equally because no matter what we all are human.

  13. Keisha Jones says:

    Response to question 4:

    I dont believe that when Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase that “all men are created equal’ that slaves were in his line of thought. As you may know, slaves werent thought of as people, but merely animals. So as far as it being hypocritical to their belief, I dont think so. They believed that they were the only human beings and everyone that looked like them were to be treated the same.
    As far as the phrase “all men created equal” being antithetical, back then it wasnt looked upon slave masters like that. Only the slaves themselves felt this way. They made it known to their owners that they are human just like them and after alot of time went by, they were heard.

  14. Tabia Chu says:

    Question #3
    In my opinion, the misfortune of slave trading was inevitable. Though slavery had been practiced, it wasn’t until the discovery of sugar and other exploitable resources that the use of human labor increased. European greed was apparent even during the years of early exploration. They conquered and set forth on voyages in search of attaining more of what their current obsession was at the time. It seems as if it is just a part of their nature to mistreat who they deem as their inferiors, using them only to fulfill their needs.

  15. Dinghua Zeng says:

    In my personal opinion, the Atlantic slave trade is not the start capitalism in Europe. Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit (wiki resource).We have no doubt that, European traded slaves for great profit. But capitalist production is base on wage labor. An employee finds employment opportunity to sell his labor in order to receive his wages. There is equal relationship between employee and employer. But the Atlantic slave trade is not built up on the equal relationship; European traded the slaves from Africa based on violence. The slaves were enforced to come to new land. On the other hand, slaves were forced to work for their owner had no pay at all. Therefore, the Atlantic slave trade is not the creation of goods or services. So, the Atlantic slave trade is the starting of capitalism.
    The American Revolution was thirteen colonies in North America try to gain their independence from British Empire. According to the policy, the colonies should pay high taxes to the British Empire, which made American business owners very unhappy. American business owners made great profit which they had free-permanent labor work for them. As a result, higher profit means they need to pay higher taxes to British Empire. Actually, thirteen colonies flight for their freedom because of they tried to avoid high taxation and other unreasonable charge from British Empire. Therefore, the American Revolution is the American business owner flight for their personal interest- the profit gain from slaves. So, The American Revolution would not happen without slaves. Americas would have large lands and jungle undeveloped if without slaves in Americas at that time.

  16. Natalia Roldan says:

    In the Declaration of Independence, the statement that all men are created equal can be viewed as sensationalist because slavery was a very popular practice during the time it was created. The statement made the United States sound like something it absolutely was not. However that might have not been the intention, as there was a very large portion of the Declaration of Independence that deeply critiqued the practice of slavery, but it was quickly edited out of the piece. This is not to say that the statement didn’t aid in the abolishing of slavery however, because many abolitionists used the statement to do exactly that.

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