Shaping a New Society in a Changing World

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The changing world of the Americas took place between the early 1500s and late 1700s. When the colonists landed in America, life was tough. They had to cultivate the land using hand tools, build their own households, produce all their food, and create their own clothing. Domestic life was noteworthy and respected. They kicked-off the European colonization because it unlocked new economic opportunities for the European countries and Columbian Exchange which was the widespread transfer of plants, culture, human populations, animals, technology, diseased, and ideas between the Americas, West Africa and the old world in the 15th centuries.

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The “Great Exchange” was the point at which the Europeans achieved landfall to the New World and brought forth with them new species of animals, sicknesses, plants which certainly spread throughout the land. While in-turn the Europeans had not seen species of animals that were native such as alpacas, llamas, and also guinea pigs which were all so predominant in the New World

Nor did the Native Americans know of about these new species of animals such as horses, pigs, goats, cattle, and maybe even chickens. Despite the fact that this, in less than a century, a few regions definitely developed from farmlands to nourishing regions. In any case, the most outstanding angle was the conveyance of infectious diseases from Europe and Africa to the Americas. Since the indigenes had no normal resistance developed to these Old-World pathogens, illnesses like smallpox and typhus detonated into a pandemic never observed. In focal Mexico, in excess of 8 million locals passed on because of the Spanish landing.

Christopher Columbus introduced horses, sugar plants, and disease to the New World while facilitating the introduction of New World commodities like sugar, tobacco, chocolate, and potatoes to the Old World. The process by which products, people, and diseases crossed the Atlantic is known as the “Columbian Exchange.”

Corn, or maize, is one of the most significant commodities of today’s society and just as it today so it was back then when the Old World received it from the New World. Alfred Crosby wrote, “If maize were the only gift the American Indian ever presented to the world, he would deserve undying gratitude, for it has become one of the most important of all foods for men and their livestock. “Corn can be grown on land that can’t quickly grow rice or wheat. It has become an essential food in Europe, Egypt, India, China, and other countries (Crosby 1972)

The Old World presented to New World: cows, oxen, horses, donkeys, pigs, and sheep. Beef in the form of cattle was brought to Mexico in 1521. Cattle became an indispensable source of food as well as they were able to pull, carry, and lift hefty loads. Horses enabled hunters to cover great lengths and increase the coverage area over which indigenes could hunt for food. Burros were important pack animals. Pigs and sheep were used for food and clothing.

Also from Old World to New World: exploitation of workers and slavery. Many explorers wanted to find riches in the form of gold and silver in the New World. These explorers used any means available to them to deliver this wealth back to Europe. The losses from war and disease created a void in the labor force. The Europeans then turned to Africa to fill this void of labor. There were about eight to 10.5 million slaves that were forced to farm tobacco, rice, coffee, and sugar.

Native Americans were also employed into slavery and the Spanish system of “encomienda,” which allowed a person the liability for a certain number of indigenes. Those who received the privilege had an obligation to protect those natives and ensure they are provided education in the Spanish language and the Catholic faith. Indigenes were forced to provide tribute in the form of labor, gold, or other products.

Today, the United States is the result of two principal forces-the immigration of European peoples with their various beliefs, practices, and widespread characteristics and the influence of a new land which transformed these distinctive European social traits.

Due to necessity colonial America was an image of Europe. Over the Atlantic came progressive groups of Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, Scots, Irishmen, and several others who endeavored to reorient their customs and cultures to this New World. But, unavoidably, the force of geographic conditions peculiar to America, the interplay of the different political gatherings upon one another, and the sheer difficulty of keeping traditional ways in a raw, new continent caused notable changes.

These differences progressed gradually at first then became scarcely visible. But the great weight of political independence experienced by the colonies simply resulted in their turning away from Britain, as they were becoming more “American” than “English.” And this inclination was heavily reinforced by the blending of other national groups and cultures which was simultaneously taking place.

How this process operated and how it generated the foundations of a new government that was reported in 1782 by that clever French husbandman, J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur. “What then is the American, this new man?” he asked in his Letters from an American Farmer. “He is either a European, or the descendant of a European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you find in no other country….

I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.”

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Shaping a New Society in a Changing World. (2019, Aug 01). Retrieved from