The Americas were emerging as a global crossroads, as the Spanish and Portuguese, and later the Dutch, French, and English were taking control of all of the resources, and competing for profits through trade. Whether it was Spanish-American silver, Brazilian gold, diamonds, and sugar, North American cash crops, or Caribbean sugar and tobacco, the Europeans extracted the wealth of the Americas at incalculable costs. In all places, indigenous labor and indentured servants quickly gave way to African slave labor and the development of mixed societies and cultures that varied from region to region. While the British and French took slightly different approaches than the Spanish and Portuguese, the overall outcome was very similar and devastating for the local and imported African populations. Although some slaves were able to run away and establish lasting independent states, like the Maroons of Suriname, examined in the Counterpoint of this chapter, in the end, the colonial Americas underwent the deepest alterations of the world’s regions in early modern times.

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