Wealth, power, and the spread of Christianity were the major motives that caused the Europeans to explore the Atlantic. As they recovered from the Black Death and the Ottoman Empire limited access to trade in the East, the Portuguese had nowhere else to look but to the sea. Using technological advances in gun making, shipbuilding, and navigation the Europeans started sailing down the coast of Africa, looking for goods and new routes to India and China. Columbus followed in the Portuguese wake, believing the quickest route to India was west, but stumbling upon a “New World” in the process. This led to the Columbian Exchange, and ultimately the Spanish conquest of the Aztec and Inca Empires. These conquests were deeply transformative, and although they established a new Atlantic world, countless indigenous populations found themselves reduced to servitude, or killed by guns, germs, and harsh treatment. While the larger imperial peoples proved to be most vulnerable to the Spanish onslaught, smaller, mobile cultures, such as the Mapuche of Chile, examined in this chapter’s Counterpoint, proved far more resistant. In the end, this emerging Atlantic world was defined by race as much as by wealth or ancestry, and it was only the beginning of the hardships for the indigenous populations of the Americas, and the increasingly enslaved natives of Africa.