European Expansion: The Impact

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The Era of European Exploration and Colonization was an outstanding, fascinating piece of World History. The major European powerhouses, including Spain, England, France, Portugal and the Netherlands, sought to increase their control and power across the New World in order to strengthen their governments back home. The idea of w:Mercantilism, an economic policy that sought to enact international power in order to strengthen their home countries at the expense of the nations they were ruling, was ravaging the world in the 16th century. Obviously, as significant these events were, their lasting impacts on the world were not only seen at the time, but are still seen to this very day. During the times of European expansion, diseases and slavery spread while the competitive atmosphere rose some European powerhouses, such as England, to stardom--ongoing racism and divisions of the races are still a present issue, with the events of w:Killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

Diseases that were brought by the Europeans into the New World included smallpox, chickenpox and malaria. These diseases were very new to the natives in the Americas, consequently, to which they had no immunity to. This aspect was the most destructive European tool that was used. An example of this was the Battle of Tenochtitlan, which gave the Aztec empire away to the Spaniards. A major factor in the Spaniards' victory was the smallpox epidemic that the Aztecs dealt with, which blew off the Aztec leadership. North America also faced the ravaging devastation of smallpox, with epidemics of smallpox along the New England coast wiping off 75% of indigenous people's lives. The spread of diseases gave the European settlers a lot more power in controlling and fighting against the Native Americans.

As seen in the Triangle Trade, slavery was a big component of the New World and how it functioned. The Atlantic slave trade consisted of mass transportation of captured Africans to the Americas. The Portuguese were the first to begin the Atlantic slave trade while shipping slaves to captured-Brazil in the 16th century. These slaves were put to work on many different crops, including but not limited to: tobacco, sugar, corn, timber-cutting, etc. Although the Atlantic slave trade didn't initiate originally as a racist classification, the Europeans shifted from indentured servants to property as slaves (captured Africans) were being sold at markets like items. Mistreatment of black folks did not change in the US after European expansion into the New World was over in the 1700s, as evident in the w:3/5 Compromise, which was used in the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Slavery did not end in the US until the mid-1800s, when the US Civil War concluded in victory for the Union army. Segregation and racist policies/laws did not end for black people until the mid-1900s, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even today, we see issues of racism popping about time-to-time, significantly related to police brutality (which we saw earlier this year). European colonization extended racist influences into the New World, to which we have not fully recovered from to this very day.

Although the European Exploration era benefited greatly for one party, the other party was left with the devastating blows. The enrichment of racism impacted the New World greatly, starting with the Atlantic slave trade and the social classes used in Central America. Lawful racism continued to exist for centuries until the mid-1900s, and even then racism is still a hot topic in the 21st century. Diseases led to a major biological advantage for the Europeans, benefiting them in their quest in settling themselves in the New World. This was evident in the Fall of Tenochtitlan, where a smallpox epidemic within the Aztec kingdom proved fatal for the natives and a win for the invaders.