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Is the United States Becoming Eighteenth Century Spain?

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posted on Sep, 12 2011 @ 08:00 PM
Welcome All,

I have decided to author another thread, this one quite different from my others. Instead of breaking news, or that solidified with fact, I shall attempt to compare the rise and downfall of the Spanish Empire, with the United States of America.


Everyone knows the story of Christopher Columbus. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

What most do not know, is the hegemony that the Nation-State of Spain would command over the entire Western Hemisphere (Save part of Brazil) long into the 17th and 18th Centuries. For Spain, the discovery of "India" and later, South America, was both a godsend, and a curse.

On the one hand, Spain gained more wealth in a century, than any other European nation had in history. The vast amounts of Gold, Silver and Land they discovered--and stole--from Native Americans could never be dreamed of before.

At the same time, the vast amounts of wealth led to rivalries, inflation and later, war.


In 1492, Isabella and Ferdinand ended the "Reconquesta" and united Spain into a single monarchial nation. Unlike most European nations at the time, Spain was now able to focus outward, rather than inward. Their attention was brought to Portugal. The Portuguese had been sailing for almost a Century. They controlled the African Trade, and were already sailing into the East, and making contact with India and later, China. To the Spanish, this was not only a challenge, but a business opportunity.

When Christopher Columbus came along later and offered to sail the distance, he was laughed at and called crazy.NOT for thinking the world was round. That had been decided years before, and is commonly held myth. Instead, he believed the Bible told him that the distance was just 2,500 miles to America. Science at the time disagreed on the distance, but many believed that the distance was well over 10,000 miles.

Yada, yada. As everyone knows, Columbus discovered Hispanola in 1492, and continued to sail and discover until his death in 1506.

After the discovery, comes the real story.

Spain, Conquistadors, the Mayans and the Incas.

Shortly after Columbus arrived in Hispanola, the Spanish and the Portuguese signed the Treaty of Tortesillas, which essentially cut the world in half. The Pope gave Spain all of the Western Hemisphere, except for the Eastern portion of Brazil, and the Portuguese all of the Eastern Hemisphere. This seemed like a good deal for the later, due to the knowledge of only the Caribbean Islands.

By 1521, Cortez had conquered the Mayans. His team of just 400 conquistadors, toppled the largest empire in the Americas. His discovery of Tenochtitlan, which housed well over 600,000 people, led to an explosion of interest in the Americas.

Shortly after, in 1532, Pizarro and his men (just 127 of them) arrived in modern-day Peru, and conquered the Incan Empire. Stretching over 380,000 square miles, the Incan Empire was equivalent in size to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

A series of explorations, atrocities and the annihilation of millions of Native Americas led to the Spanish holding an Empire stretching from Modern Louisiana through Mexico, all the way to Modern Chile.


Spain almost immediately began their search for gold. And did they find it. The Mayan's City of Tenochtitlan was literally coated in gold. Buildings were covered in it, the people wore it, and they offered it to the Gods. Spain began opening Silver and Gold mines throughout Mexico, and they struck pay dirt. Caravels, the main European vessel at the time, could carry just over 160 tons of cargo. Every single year, Spain was transferring over 1,000,000 pesos worth of gold and silver, or 60,500 pounds of cargo.

The amount of money Spain was transferring is almost unimaginable. In a matter of just three decades, Spain went from the poorest country in Western Europe, to the wealthiest in history.

Their Navy was considered the largest and greatest to ever sail, and was comprised of hundreds of ships. The Spanish Armada (Just one!) that sailed against the English in 1588 had over 130 ships.

Unfortunately, the wealth and power was relatively short lived.


There was so much wealth in Spain, that nothing was able to be done. The cost of producing a factory or just to produce the wool sweater made in that factory, became to expensive for even the wealthy to afford. What happened in Spain resembles the United States of today. The cost of producing something became too high, so what did they do? They out-sourced. Spain single-handedly financed the Industrial Revolution in France and the Netherlands.

As the 16th century had worn on, inflation in Spain (a result of state debt and, more importantly, the importation of silver and gold from the New World) triggered hardship for the peasantry. The average cost of goods quintupled in the 16th century in Spain, led by wool and grain.

The industrial growth of other nations, combined with the European nations getting fed up with Spain bullying them (sound familiar?), began to rebel. The French and Portuguese began to fight back, starting the Eight Year's War and Thirty Year's War. A newly Protestant England attempted Colonization, and defied Spain. The Battle of Gravelines led to the collapse of the Spanish Armada, and the loss of over 80 ships. England occupied Jamaica and its colonies in North America continued to grow.

Spain, wrecked by inflation and a non-industrialized core, began to fall behind. Even with hundreds of ships worth of Gold and Silver still flooding out of South America every year, their influence continued to wane. By the 18th and 19th Centuries, much of their Western Hemisphere Empire was gone. Jamaica, Hispanola, Louisiana, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, and Florida had become either Independent or part of the United States by the Early 1800's. In 1898, Cuba and Puerto Rico, the last of the Spanish Empire's colonies in the West, were ceded to the United States.

How does this relate to America?

Lets play a game. Its an easy game. They say history repeats itself, so lets have history play out. It is the year 2050, and the United States is on its last leg. What? How? Its simple. 75 years of over-extended military, outsourcing, uncontrolled debt and inflation and an increasingly belligerent world push the United States off the world stage. Our economy is far behind our Asian comrades. Our Government is so far in debt it can't even borrow money from 3rd World Nations, and our Military has been handed a string of defeats and retreats in the Pacific and the Middle East.

Sound like fantasy? Its not.

The Spanish empire fell because it could not mind its own business and control its greed. There is only so much wealth a group can hold. There are only so many nations an Empire can control. And there is only so much industry to outsource. At some point, you lose everything.

How do we prevent this?

Honestly, listen to what the Constitution and our Fathers said. Scale back the military, Gold-Standard, Bring Industry back to America and end the corruption the Corporations have in our Government.

Its now or never America.

posted on Sep, 12 2011 @ 08:15 PM
Good read and presentation, interesting comparison.

Worth thinking about it.
Lucky me i don't live in the US

posted on Sep, 12 2011 @ 08:46 PM
reply to post by intergalactic fire

I think you could almost compare any empire to that of the Spanish, but I think the United States is the most appropriate.

Thanks for the comment!

posted on Sep, 12 2011 @ 09:15 PM
Don’t forget, Spain developed the first International currency known as the Pieces of Eight.

Because it was widely used in Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, it became the first world currency by the late 18th century.

Now the world uses the US dollar as the only currency allowed to purchase oil.

3. Commodity Currency – While the United States is not an active producer of major commodities, a 1970s agreement with Saudi Arabia chained the oil market to the dollar. Since that time, nearly 100% of all oil bought and sold around the world is priced in the US Dollars. Because oil can be purchased only with dollars, international organizations, businesses, and governments are willing to hold onto the US Dollar, knowing that it is the only currency they can use to buy oil on the open market. Everyone needs oil, so everyone needs to own US dollars.

Oil is also known as black gold.

Spain ruined their economy by hording all the gold. I wonder if forcing the world to use the US dollar to purchase oil is causing the same effect that hording gold did with Spain?

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 01:12 AM
Fantastic read.

I have to agree with you at the comparison. The Spanish Empire very nearly mirrors our situation.
So, what we will begin to see in the near future is our outlaying vassals begin to jump ship from American hegemony. Say... places like Egypt (might have just done so though hard to tell yet), Pakistan (been heading that way for a while), and maybe some eastern European nations like Ukraine or Belarus.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 01:14 AM
Hmmm interesting thread but is this the appropriate forum?

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 02:15 AM
Wow! Great and precise read! I never would have thought of that, comparing an empire from long ago to a modern civilization because of globalization, but your comparison is indeed refreshing. I loved your post, please keep up the good work!

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 04:04 AM
No America is nothing like Spain. Spain became wealthy and America has gone broke. If anything America is becoming like 1930's Germany.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 04:36 AM
America like any Empire has risen and will fall.. but how the fall is handled is as important as who the Empirical power is transferred too.

While Spain might be a good comparison now at this point... Spain suffered in my opinion when the Empirical power transferred into unfriendly hands...

So for me the important question is who will America hands the Empirical baton over to? As answering that question might define what happens to America from that point...

But all said and done that type of transfer will only come about through war.
edit on 13/9/11 by thoughtsfull because: spelling

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 08:00 AM
Great read but as was mentioned in a previous post how the fall is handled will determine the impact on the rest of the world.

To quote Captain Ramius from The Hunt for Red October, "Moscow's not the worry, neither is the whole Soviet navy. I know their tactics, I have the advantage. The worry is the Americans. We meet the right sort, this will work. We get some... buckaroo...?"

if a buckaroo is in charge at the end, what's to stop him from taking the rest of the world down also with nuclear fire or some bio/genetic weapon? The, if I can't have it no one else will, attitude. Certain big money interest wouldn't take to kindly to loosing their military muscle and depopulation has been stated as one of their goals here on ATS.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 08:16 AM
As they say, if you do not learn from past mistakes, you are condemned to relive them.

Humans, clever, they ain't.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 08:44 AM
I think the first step we should take to avoid a similar downfall as Spain would be to inform everyone we know about the secrets of the federal reserve via social networking sites like facebook. 'We Know The Secrets of The Federal Reserve' has had over 6000 views since its creation just over 1 month ago.

great thread btw. I read a great book a few years ago called 1491. It theorizes that when Cortez and his small army arrived in south america they found nearly deserted cities. Possibly spanish ships off the coast of south america infected the natives with new dieseases carried by the wind. The author also believes that before the spanish arrived, central & south america had more inhabitants than the rest of the world combined.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 09:30 AM
reply to post by buster2010

But the result is the same. the United States much like the Spanish can no longer afford to exist as an empire.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 11:26 AM
The only flaw in your argument is the fact that Britain and not Spain had the greatest and wealthiest Empire:-

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 12:09 PM
I like this topic!! Very well-considered argument there in the OP and entirely relevant, both for its own sake and the possibility of predicting the future.

The debate over which was the "weathiest" nation centuries ago lies at the heart of current events in the sense of "what is wealth?" Spain remained "wealthiest" by many standards, but the underlying truth was that the country's wealth had become mostly an ego front as early as the start of the 30 Years War (1618). Spain was in truth in terminal morbid debt and managed to keep the image up purely through its "credit rating" with the moneylenders (yep-- private banks!) The Spanish aristocracy tried to fob off devalued currency to its own people so that it could use the "real" money to service its debt and feather its nests.

Sound familiar? This is EXACTLY why this thread is so very appropriate at this time.

Thank you OP! Thank you! Let's keep this one going.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 12:52 PM
What a brilliant and accurate exposition. It's amazing how Empires are never defeated. They just fall, dragged by their own failures. Ours (Im Spanish) fell exactly as you've described.

Now Europe is a congestion of wrecked Empires and maybe that's why we're gruesomely uniting nowadays. I just really hope you, the last of Western Empires, dont fall. I'm sure you will know how to learn, as you just showed, from prior mistakes.

Fantastic read. Thank you for your good work.

reply to post by alldaylong
Different eras.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 02:16 PM
reply to post by isthisreallife

Very interesting comparison.While we live in vastly different times, I can see obvious similarities. I suspect you might be spot on with your assessment.S&F

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 02:22 PM
reply to post by alldaylong

I think the Roman Empire is the biggest of all. Those other empires listed were mere subsets of the Holy Roman Empire, which still exists today. Nobody conquers the Vatican.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 02:51 PM

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 03:01 PM
OP mentioned "greed" several times in his her text, but explained things in terms of economics and positive feedback loops.

Greed, in my opinion, is an emotional label we put on people whom we dislike, when they have financial success.

Is Spanish greed any worse than English greed?

Are the Estonians exemplars of humility, since they have not successfully launched an empire?

Were the Spanish more greedy than the Zulu, but less greedy than the Huns?

Labels like "greed" cloud our otherwise excellent analysis and judgment.

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