Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Impact of the Transatlantic Contacts from 1492-1750

            In 1492 Cristobal Colon, or Christopher Columbus, discovered the America’s in an effort to find new routes to India. This discovery was monumental in that it brought on a chain of economic and social events; some horrific; some genuinely good; all revolutionizing. From 1492-1750 the world, specifically the Atlantic world, changed dramatically. The discovery of this new world gave birth to flourishing trade. Africa, Europe and the Americas went through significant, albeit  different social changes as Europe quickly dominated Atlantic trade and sent the Atlantic world into a time of economic prosperity,
            After Columbus’ first journey numerous conquistadors/conquerors explored the Americas and as these Europeans sought to exploit the Americas they began colonizing sand attempting to import their culture to the America. At the same time they needed labor for their plantations and mines. This created the Atlantic System, in which the Americas imported slaves from Africa, deported commodities such as sugar, tobacco and cotton to Europe, who in turn traded textiles, rum and manufactured goods with Africa for more slaves, who made their way back to the Americas. This triangle of trading revolutionized economic transactions, but it had very differing economic and social effects on Africa, the America’s and Europe.
            In Africa this boom of trade meant several things that would change their societies forever. The slave trade had a politically destabilizing affect on the region as it introduces a further interest for conquest and civil war. War became the chief route to success as leadership shifted from land based to war based. In addition, population growth was greatly hindered by the gender imbalance that was introduced as mostly men slaves were being exported. But this depopulation was counter-acted a bit by the new world crops that encouraged population growth.
            In the Americas the Natives social and economic structure was changed and demolished. Their religion changed drastically as the Europeans pushed their religion. Europeans continued to extinguish the Native ways as they slaughtered or forced them into labor. The Americas were being transformed by the introduction of European horses and pigs, crops and diseases, weapons and education. While the Natives were pushed back, Europeans fleeing religious persecution were able to find a safe haven.
            In Europe the industrial production eventually advanced from manmade to machine made. By the mid 1700s Western Europe was economically and socially dominating the Americas and Africa. New world enterprises quickly made their way to Europe. One example of this is how new world crops revolutionized the European diet. The European population exploded due to this agricultural advancement.

            The transforming triangle of trade flourished because countries were overflowing with resources that other countries wanted. While Europeans did impose their social dynamics the Native and African customs seeped in eventually creating a melting pot of social and economic cultures dominated by Europeans. Through extended contact, Africa, Europe and the Americas were revolutionized.