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A Free Reading Passage on Coronado and the Repartimiento System for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 22

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Coronado and the Repartimiento System is a referenced topic in the European Colonization topic in Period 2 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.



Francisco Vázquez de Coronado
1930438895/Shutterstock

In the mid-16th century, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, the governor of New Galicia in Mexico, made a significant request to the Spanish crown: he asked for an augmentation of his repartimiento. This request highlights the labor demands and challenges faced by Spanish colonial administrators in the New World.


Francisco Vázquez de Coronado is best known for his expedition to find the mythical Seven Cities of Gold, a journey that took him through much of what is now the southwestern United States. Before this expedition, Coronado was responsible for managing and expanding Spanish colonial interests in New Galicia, a province in northern Mexico. One of the key tools at his disposal was the repartimiento system.

The repartimiento system was a colonial labor policy implemented by the Spanish crown to allocate Indigenous labor to Spanish settlers. This system replaced the earlier encomienda system, which had granted Spanish colonists the right to extract labor and tribute from Indigenous communities in exchange for their protection and Christian instruction. The encomienda system had led to severe exploitation and abuse, prompting reforms and the establishment of the repartimiento system.


Under the repartimiento system, Indigenous people were required to provide labor for Spanish projects such as agriculture, mining, and public works for limited periods. Theoretically, this system was designed to ensure fair treatment and compensation, with laborers rotating in and out of service to prevent overwork. However, in practice, the repartimiento often resulted in harsh conditions and exploitation, as Spanish officials and settlers frequently demanded more labor than was sustainable.


Coronado’s request to augment his repartimiento was driven by the increasing labor needs of the expanding Spanish colony. The governor needed more workers to support agricultural production, mining operations, and the construction of infrastructure necessary for colonial growth. His request reflects the broader challenges faced by Spanish colonial administrators who struggled to balance the demands of economic development with the wellbeing of Indigenous populations.


The labor shortages in frontier areas like New Galicia also led to the capture and assimilation of Native Americans into servitude, contributing to the emergence of communities such as the Genízaros. These “detribalized Indians” were often captured during conflicts or traded by friendly tribes and then integrated into Spanish households. Over time, they adopted Hispanic customs and became a distinct social group within the colonial framework.


Coronado’s request underscores the complexities of colonial administration and the persistent tensions between economic ambitions and ethical considerations. The repartimiento system, while intended as a reform, often perpetuated the exploitation of Indigenous people, shaping the social and economic structures of the Spanish colonies.



PRINTABLE READING PASSAGE ON CORONADO AND THE REPARTIMIENTO SYSTEM

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Coronado and the Repartimiento System FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about Francisco Vázquez de Coronado?






European Colonization


Period 2


AP U.S. History





Coronado and the Repartimiento System



#FranciscoVázquezdeCoronado #RepartimientoSystem

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 22

9

0

0

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