America as a New World: Native Depopulation in North America

Subject: History
Pages: 3
Words: 892
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Introduction

Columbian exchange refers to the two-way Atlantic traffic between America, Europe, and Africa. Columbian exchange facilitated the exchange of animals, plants, communicable diseases, and culture. The other main use of the Columbian exchange was the exchange of ideas between the Americans and Afro-Eurasian hemispheres. This was only possible after the voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1942. In the exchange, America is referred to as the new world due to several factors which resulted from the interactions between the three continents. This report identifies factors that led to America being referred to as the new world.

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The European Colonialists

Christopher Columbus discovered the American continent after the world of Europe, Africa, and Asia was already known. The three continents were referred to as the old world while the newly discovered America became the new world (Calloway 136). The western hemisphere was now known as the new world with vast lands not yet exploited. Africa and Europe had gone through a population boom as a result of abundance of foods such as potatoes in Europe and Cassavas in Africa. The Americas offered Europe and Asia a new place to exploit with vast lands not yet touched (Calloway 136). It was a place where the colonialists could take advantage of minerals and move its growing population.

European settlers came with different animals and plants not found in the new world. This led to ecological imperialism due to increase in weeds and animals such as pigs and rats. Weeds grew exponentially as a result of increased deforestation to allow for the cultivation of the land. Pigs and rats that came from the old world changed the ecology of the new world where the native’s storage facilities were no match for the new rats (Calloway 138). As populations increased in Europe, the new world post 1942 went through population decimation as a result of diseases such as smallpox and other afflictions that came with the Europeans (Calloway 25). Europeans came from a place where it was overpopulated and filthy which led to adoption to numerous diseases. In America, the natives did not have any external interaction with outsiders. Anywhere there was interaction between the natives and the European colonialists, diseases afflicted the native population (Calloway 181). The native population decreased due to fatal diseases, creating more land which could be occupied by Europeans.

The natives

The Arrival of European colonialists’ post 1942 meant for a change in the way of life for the American natives. The natives lived off the land without any exploitation only eating the available plants and hunting world animals (Cameron et al. 50). The Europeans, on the other hand, wanted to exploit the land for minerals and farming which meant an end to the nomadic life-style of the natives. The American natives experienced new fatal diseases and an increase in animals such as pigs that decimated most of the plants they depended on (Cameron et al. 52). Europeans quickly identified the vast lands that were yet exploited. The cultivated a small portion while the rest they grazed their domesticated animals. This limited the movement of the Native Americans.

Post 1492 the western hemisphere can be referred to as the new world for the natives. The European settlers came with animals such as horses and Buffalo which changed the lifestyle of the natives (Cameron et al. 52). They began using the horses for hunting buffalo. This translates to a change in their lifestyle as they gained new animals to help in their day-to-day life. Hunting buffalo became a way of life for the natives as the animals were big and provided foods to many.

The Africans

America can be referred by Africans as the new world post 1492 since after the decimation of the native population and introduction of new crops, Africans were enslaved. Africa’s main export to North America and the West Indies were slaves required to work in colonial farms and plantations (Calloway 181). They lived in chains for the rest of their lives unlike in Africa where they were free. In America Africans became slaves who worked for free since their arrival from Africa until the day they died.

Most of the enslaved people in the new world came from West Africa while a small portion consisted of white settlers (Calloway 181). The settlers were enslaved for a given period of time while they work off their debts from the crossing into the new world. After this period, they were considered free and they could cultivate and exploit the new world. Africans were enslaved for a life-time working for free in the plantations. This meant that Africans also had to learn a new language as the different languages they used were not used in the new world.

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Conclusion

The European colonists, natives and Africans all saw America as a new world due to different reasons. European colonists saw new lands to cultivate and exploit minerals. The natives way of life changed after the introduction of new crops, diseases and animals. They gained new hunting animals such as Buffalo and horses to assist in easier movement during migration and war. The natives were afflicted by diseases such as chicken pox which greatly reduced their population as they interacted with the Europeans. Africans were subjected to free slavery in America. It was a different lifestyle compared to the African way of life.

Works Cited

Calloway, Colin G. New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America. JHU Press, 2013.

Cameron, Catherine M. et al. editors. Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America. University of Arizona Press, 2015.