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Unformatted text preview: Jeff Bouton World History February 28, 2010 Price of a Life Throughout history, many new commodities have risen on the scene and have made a global impact. There has been the introduction of gun powder, silk, spices, and tobacco for example, that have altered the way humans live and interact with each other. Like the previously mentioned goods, silver and sugar gradually became necessities for people, and they changed human behavior all over the globe. Most people would associate new goods that help people as a positive, because they provide new economic and social opportunities, but the development of silver and sugar had more costs than benefits. The introduction and distribution of silver and sugar in large quantities to the world negatively affected humans more than it helped in the form of an increased need for cheap exploited labor, slavery, and millions of human casualties. Before silver and sugar became highly demanded goods, they had to be effectively produced. There was always a demand for silver in China, since it was their form of currency, but it wasn’t until large deposits of silver were discovered in the New World, as author Timothy Brook put it in his book, Vermeer’s Hat , “…everything was bought and sold according to [silver’s] standard. (Brook 2008: 155).” Basically silver became a must have, and unavoidable good for everyone in the globe. Silver was like the stock market many years ago; if the value of silver dropped, everybody became poorer. Before this discovery Asia got a steady supply of silver from Japan, but its distribution was limited mainly within the continent. After the discovery, silver was distributed all over the world and to people in all social classes to be used for silverware, decoration, and an acceptable currency for anything. Finding silver in the 1 Americas opened up lots of new trade opportunities for Europe. It gave them a good to trade with China who previously had no interest in what Europeans had to offer. China had valuable spices, silk, and eventually porcelain, all which Europeans highly valued. Silver was an item in great demand and Europeans noticed this and took advantage of it. They, meaning mostly Spain, began mining in South America. This was the only source of silver that really got distributed over long distances through trade. Smaller deposits of silver stayed local or in surrounding countries like the silver found in Germany and Austria(Brook 2008: 157), which didn’t leave Eastern Europe. The places where mining was done the most were located in New Spain and Peru. In Potosí, a city in Peru, now known as Bolivia, silver was discovered by the Spanish in bountiful amounts in 1545, and the population quickly swelled to approximately two hundred thousand in just twenty-five years(Rouse: “Introduction to World History Lecture”). Spain enacted a practice called Mita, in which they forced Indians to work in the mines, because the natives had quit before realizing the dangers of mines (Brook 2008: 157-...
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- Spring '10