Johanna Stackmann 8B
November 7, 2014
Part 3: Long Answer/Essay
Who or what is most responsible for the downfall of early American societies?
The obvious answer to this question would be to propose that the Spanish conquerors were most responsible for the downfall of early American Societies. Their modern weaponry, mysterious animals and cruel intentions were key to defeat. One could even mention that smallpox was their most deadly weapon. All of these are reasonable answers but one has to question, how a small group of conquerors could possibly defeat such a numerous population. The answer is fear. Because the Americans were so intimidated by their conquerors, the Spaniards were able to destruct an entire continent. Fear, was the underlying power that led to their defeat.
First to mention, the fear of terror. Kingdoms surrendered without battle as people feared massacre. Although having lost a large amount of citizens, the Americans still held a chance to defeat their conquerors. However, fear robbed their strength and willpower. “The Massacre had a chilling effect, provoking other kingdoms and cities in Montezuma’s empire to submit to Cortés’ demands.” (P. 5 Socratic Seminar Package April 20, 1519, A Display of Force) The news of a cruel killing spread like wildfire. Cities and smaller kingdoms decided to surrender rather than fight, to avoid a similar outcome. “Terror dominated everyone, as if all world were being disemboweled… People fell into a fearful slumber…” (P. 6 Socratic Seminar Package November 1519, The Most Beautiful Thing in the World).
Secondly, the fear of harming what they believed to be a god. The South American cultures believed in various gods and goddesses. To many, the overpowering appearance and mighty force of the Spaniards seemed godlike. This led to an illogical behavior amongst the societies, who befriended those who they believed to be allies. “Montezuma was paralyzed by ...