Spain, the United States & the American Frontier:
Historias Paralelas

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The "Meeting of Frontiers" pilot explores the comparative history of Spanish expansion into North America from Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas across the continent through Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and California all the way to Alaska, as well as the American expansion westward and the meeting of their frontiers. Spanish possessions extended over many parts of what is today the United States from 1513 when Juan Ponce de León first arrived in Florida and claimed the territory for the King of Spain, until 1821 when news of Mexico's independence from Spain reached Santa Fe. Intrepid Spanish explorers and settlers sailed along the coasts of the continent, crossed vast expanses, and established settlements for more than 300 years. From the outset Spanish conquerors brought with them free and enslaved Africans. Starting in the early 1600s English explorers and settlers arrived on the shores of what is today the eastern part of the United States. Within the next two centuries, the Anglo-American and after 1776, American settlers, also crossed the continent and established towns and cities. Both Spain and the United States share an experience in continent-wide exploration, settlement, and development that was unrivaled elsewhere in the world. For both countries that multi-cultural experience had an impact on their histories and identities.

Americans tend to see their expansion westward as a process of free settlement. Spain, on the other hand, viewed the conquest and settlement of the American territories as extending Spain's language, laws, customs, culture, and religion to the new territories. Missionaries often accompanied discoverers and explorers. In the eighteenth century Spain assisted the Anglo-American colonies in their struggle for independence. The word "frontier" as used in American history, with connotations of freedom and opportunity, is not used in Spanish in the same way. For that reason we are using "parallel histories" in our Spanish language text. Spanish culture left a lasting impact on the United States which this project will document.

Meeting of Frontiers is a multimedia digital library project which follows another Library of Congress project America, Russia, and the Meeting of Frontiers. The Spain-America initiative provides a gateway to the shared experience by both countries and to much that remains important to the histories of Spain and the United States today.

More About the Project

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The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

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Comments: Ask a Librarian (05/05/00)