One of the primary reasons for exploration was the search for the Northwest Passage, an imaginary path that could be used to reach Asia without having to go around Africa, or through the Middle East. The Panamanians proved that travel was possible around Africa with a new kind of boat that utilized wind better, but the Spaniards and other Europeans were more interested in a more direct approach to reaching Asia. So they began to head westward.
The Queen of Spain commissioned Christopher Columbus to lead an expedition westward to reach Asia, and he instead stumbled upon the most successful failure in history, The Americas.
He reached the islands of the Bahamas, and thinking that he was indeed in the Indies, he named the inhabitants Indians. Ironically, after making the greatest discovery of the past millennium, his tombstone marked him as a failure, due to the lack of the Northwest Passage.
Once the queen of Spain realized the goldmine (quite literally), that was before her, she sent basically an entire army of conquistadors to seize the assets of the natives, and secure it for the Spanish empire.
The three “G”s are what the Spanish conquistadors sought after. God, Gold, and Glory, all of which they could find in the native inhabitants possession. They “harvested” the souls of the natives by converting them (whether they liked it or not) to Catholicism, and at the same time, took all of their gold and silver, and for this cultural rape, they got their precious glory. Even though the natives were devastated by the diseases brought by the Europeans, and the loss of all natural resources, and the loss of culture, and the loss of their religion, language, land, and dignity, they submitted to the conquerors.
Now let’s discuss for a little bit, the real discoverers of the new world, who aren’t credited for the discovery, but definitely should be. There are many different accounts of why Lief Ericson traveled to the new world, but the end result is always the same, no matter what version of the story you hear. He arrived in this beautiful land filled with plenty of grapes and lush forests and named the new land Vinland (after the amount of grapes). He made a small settlement that only lasted for 2 years, and then returned back to Greenland. It was recorded in sagas by the nords and in folklore, but still by most, Columbus is given credit for the discovery.
After the nords and the Spaniards came the English. The English settled the new world for land. Some were looking for new land to farm and harvest crops with, some were searching for freedom from religious persecution, and others were just looking to start a new life in a new place. They didn’t arrive there planning on turning their backs on the crown, or disobeying the empire in any way, and up until the last few years that the 13 colonies were under British rule, there was no need to revolt.
The new English settlers were still under the empire’s control, however, the colonies and settlements were for the most part self-governing, and relatively independent. The only problems arose when the crown decided to impose taxes on the colonists that were unfair and unjust and the colonists got sick of it and decided to lead a full-fledged revolt against the thrown, resulting in massive bloodshed and an entirely new nation with a unique constitution compiled from bits and pieces of other nations constitutions and blended with perfect harmony to create our United States of America.
So, really there were many different reasons for the exploration, settlement , and conquest of the new world, and all of them came from different nations. All in all, the outcome was the creation of several new nations which would all eventually break away from the nations which brought them to be. Some would become super powers and others would become 3rd world countries, but without the voyages made by the Spaniards and Nords and English, we wouldn’t have any of this.