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Columbian Exchange and
Commercial Revolution
Columbian Exchange
between any
two peoples
separated from one
another results in an
‘exchange’ of physical
three main
elements are: Plants,
animals and microbes
The Exchange can be positive or
negative in its effects
In the exchange that started along the coast
of Newfoundland and was made widespread
by Columbus, Disease was the most negative
for Indian peoples
Fatality rate over a period of two to three
generations was 95% for many tribal groups
In some cases, as in the Mohegans case, the
fatality rate could be 100%
Europeans believed that it was
God’s will that Indians died
There was no germ theory at the time
of contact.
Illness in Europe was considered to be
the consequence of sin
Indians, who were largely “heathen” or
non-Christian were regarded as sinners
and therefore subject to illness as a
New World Microbes
Not all pathogens traveled from Europe
to the Americas
Syphilis, polio, hepatitis and encephalitis
were new world diseases
African slaves were less vulnerable to
European diseases than were Indians
Europeans succumbed to Malaria easily
Old World Diseases
European disease was particularly virulent
Smallpox, measles, diphtheria, whooping
cough, chicken pox, bubonic plague, scarlet
fever and influenza were the most common
microbial diseases exchanged
Nearly all of the European diseases were
communicable by air and touch.
The pathway of these diseases was invisible
to both Indians and Europeans
Disease raced ahead of people
In most cases, Indian peoples became sick
even before they had direct contact with
Trade goods that traveled from tribe to tribe
though middlemen were often the vector of
There is little or no evidence to think that
Europeans intentionally infected trade items
for trade with Indians to kill them
Smallpox in the Americas
All of these exchanges then, of
microbes, plants and animals had a
dramatic effect on the environment of
the New World, and by extension, a
dramatic, and often negative effect on
the economies and cultures of Indian
• an economic theory that states that the
world only contained a fixed amount of
wealth and that to increase a countries
wealth, one country had to take some
wealth from another either through having
a higher import/export ratio or in actual
conquest of new lands and resources.
• Between 1600 and 1800 most of the states of western
Europe were heavily influenced by a policy usually known
as mercantilism.
• essentially an effort to achieve economic unity and
political control.
• Generally it may be thought of as a collection of policies
designed to keep the state prosperous by economic
• These policies may or may not have been applied
simultaneously at any given time or place.
Bullionism (gold)
Bullionism was the belief that the economic health of a
nation could be measured by the amount of precious metal,
gold, or silver, which it possessed.
The rise of a money economy, the stimulation produced by the
influx of bullion from America, the fact that taxes were collected
in money, all seemed to support the view that hard money was the
source of prosperity, prestige, and strength.
Bullionism dictated a favorable balance of trade.
That is, for a nation to have gold on hand at he end oft he year, it
must export more than it imports. Exports were later defined to
include money spent on freight, or insurance, or travel.
Each nation tried to achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Those who founded new industries should be rewarded by
the state.
from the Americas!
Favorable Balance of Trade
Regulated commerce could produce a
favorable balance of trade.
In general, tariffs should be high on
imported manufactured goods and low
on imported raw material.
What was needed to maintain mercantilism
Regulation of international trade
State intervention
Protection of manufacturers
Strong state government
Mercantilism, Purpose of Colonies
Sea power was necessary to control
foreign markets.
A powerful merchant fleet would obviate
the necessity of using the ships of another
nation and becoming dependent on
foreign assistance.
In addition, a fleet in being could add to a
nation's prestige and military power.
Thriving agriculture should be carefully
Domestic production not only precluded
imports of food, but farmers also provided a
base for taxation.
Colonies could provide captive markets for
manufactured goods and sources of raw
A large population was needed to provide a
domestic labor force to people colonies.
Need to keep wealth at home
Luxury items were to be avoided
because they took money out of the
economy unnecessarily.
State action was needed to regulate and
enforce the above policies.
Mercantilist policies adopted during the reign
of Elizabeth were continued in the
seventeenth century under the Stuarts and
Oliver Cromwell.
Elizabethan laws were passed to discourage
idleness, to reward industrial enterprise with
monopolies, and to control the commerce by
means of Navigation Acts.
Elizabeth gave her justices of the peace the
authority to fix prices, regulate hours, and
compel every able-bodied subject to work at
some useful trade.
Lead to:
Competition between nations
Navigation and other Trade Acts
Avoidance of tariffs
Need for large labor force
Slave Trade
Conflict on the seas
Larger Ships more maneuverable ships
England vs. Spain
England was late in joining the competition for Asian
trade, but England also reached out.
In the New World England and Spain were bound to
come in conflict. England had participated little in the
process of exploration yet insisted that its occupation
provided a legitimate claim to title.
Of course, Spain claimed that discovery provided the
claim to title. The Spanish not only desired to
monopolize the trade of their colonies, but the also
wished to prevent the English from establishing a
foothold which would constitute a base for penetration
of Spanish territory.
Generally speaking, the English disliked the Spanish.
New Colonial Rivals (slave trade)
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
“Coffin” Position Below Deck
Slave Ship
Mercantilism in History
Between the 15th and the 18th centuries in Europe,
powerful states were created and were dedicated
to the pursuit of economic power and wealth.
Governments organized their then-limited
capabilities to increase the wealth of the country.
Mercantilist governments promoted…
exports over imports
industrialization over agriculture
the protection of domestic production against
competition from imports
the intervention in trade to promote domestic
Mercantilism in History
Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-83) an advisor
to Louis XIV, argued that states needed to
accumulate gold and silver to guarantee
power and wealth.
Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) advocated
policies to protect the growth of the state’s
Friedrich List (1789-1846) advocated strong
government intervention for economic
development and government aid to
technology, education and, like Hamilton, to
Mercantilist Perspective
Views of human
between individuals,
society, state and
between domestic
and international
Humans are aggressive and
have conflictual tendencies
Goal is to increase state power,
achieved by regulating
economic life; economics is
subordinate to state interests.
International economy is
insecurity of anarchy breeds
each state defends itself.
The Rise of Capitalism
• Individuals and corporations invest money
- using their capital, not labor, to make
more money
• Production, distribution, and exchange of
goods are controlled by private individuals
or corporations, not by the state
• Prices are set by supply and demand in
the marketplace, not by the government
Joint Stock Companies
• Individuals pooled their resources to form
companies larger than any one individual or
family could finance
• Shares of the company (stock) were issued
• Stockholders shared in the profits of the
company in proportion to the percentage of the
stock they held
• Some, such as the East India Company, were
endorsed and given special treatment by the
Impact of Commercial Revolution
sixteenth century change the social structure of the West
Produced proletariat¹people without access to real property
worked in domestic manufacturing, as agricultural labor, or as
unemployed, urban poor
created greater divisions between estates signified by popular risings
of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
distrust of poor reflected in witchcraft hysteria.
absolute monarchy of the seventeenth century
Balance between monarchy and nobles shifted in favor of the
loss of feudal independence
monarchs gained new powers
more ambitious military organization marked by professionalized
armies, improved methods of tax collection
appointment of bureaucracies more common
decline of parliamentary government
use of mercantilism as state-controlled economic system.