Spanish Colonial Structure
Name/School: Carol M. Conti, Blackstone-Millville Regional High School
Grade Level: 9
Topic: Spanish Colonial Structure in the Americans
Lesson: How did the Spanish control their new empire in the Americas?
Overview: Using documents from the Porter-Phelps-Huntington collection to understand how the workings of the Spanish colonial social, economic, and religious culture impacted those living in the colony.
Time: one class period (45 minutes)
- Student’s notes on Spanish colonial structure
- Gellineau Family Genealogy (Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, Box 129, Folder 16, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections & Special Collections)
- Excerpts from Charles Gellineau’s will (Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, Box 128, Folder 1, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections & Special Collections)
- Excerpts from Marianne Stearns’ birth/baptism certificate. (Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers, Box 128, Folder 1, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections & Special Collections)
- Concepts (Big idea/central theme): Using documents from the Porter-Phelps-Huntington collection to understand how the workings of the Spanish colonial social, economic, and religious culture.
- Content (What students should know): Students should recognize that the systems established by the Spanish colonial structure were still in existence in the 19th century and evaluate the impact on the colonies.
- Skills (What students should be able to do): Students will be able to read a primary source document, extract relevant information, and use that information to make predictions regarding developments in history.
- In the previous class, students will have developed knowledge of the Spanish colonial structure. Working in groups, students were asked to predict how the Spanish would meet the goals of the Spanish king and control their colonies in three key areas: social, economic, and religious. After making their predictions, students would then read the textbook and compare their predictions with what the Spanish actually did. A class discussion would have followed regarding why the Spanish made the choices that they did and the impact those choices might have on the people living in the colonies.
- Start activity – quick review – list three ways in which the Spanish had more power than the natives in the Spanish colonies.
- Place the students in groups of three-four. Tell the students they will be given three documents from the early 19th century and provide brief background on the Gellineau family. They are to read through those documents carefully and look for evidence that the Spanish colonial structure established in the 1500s is still in existence by the 1800s.
- First, give the students a copy of the Gellineau Family Genealogy. They have to identify what individuals belong in which Spanish social class and explain why that was so.
- Next, the students will be given excerpts of Charles Gellineau’s will(mentioning his ownership of slaves and trade with England) for evidence of slavery and trade with the mother country.
- Last, the students will be given copy of Marianne’s birth/baptism certificate and analyze use of the term “white person” in the document for evidence of both religious control and social prejudice.
- When students have completed the activity, compile a list of evidence on the board under three headings (“economic”, “social”, “and religious”). Does this evidence support the idea that the Spanish colonial structure is still in existence? If so, how does that impact the individuals living under such a system? How does the experience of the Gellineau family compare to a native born family?
- For homework, students will be asked to read a description of slavery in the 19th century Spanish colonies and compare and contrast that account to the life of the Gellineau Family.
Extension Possibilities/Interdisciplinary Connections:
Readings on individuals who led various independence movements in the former Spanish colonies.
History/Social Science Curriculum Frameworks Learning Standards:
- WH1.14 – Identify the major economical, political, and social effects of the European colonial period in South America.