SAT Subject US History Practice Question 880: Answer and Explanation
51. Which of the following statements is true of the encomienda system, established by the Spanish in the New World?
A. Settlers were given 50 acres of land, as well as 50 acres for every person whose passage they paid to the New World.
B. Colonies existed for the good of the mother country.
C. African slaves were brought to the New World to labor on plantations.
D. The system resulted in the exploitation of the Native American population by the Spanish.
E. The mother country exported more than it imported, creating a favorable balance of trade.
Correct Answer: D
Under the encomienda system, the Spanish conquistadors exploited the labor of Native Americans in the New World; this was considered justified if an attempt was made to Christianize the laborers. It provided a way for the Spanish to enslave the Native American population. The importation of African slaves (C) was not part of the encomienda system, although in the Caribbean islands, the encomienda system was replaced by African slavery as the native population died out from disease, overwork, and warfare. The practice of granting a settler acres of land for each person whose passage they paid (A) is called the headright system. The system in which colonies exist for the good of the mother country (B) and in which the mother country attempts to maintain a favorable trade (E) is called mercantilism.