Argumentative Essay On Discovery Of Americas AND Its Impact On Commerce, Navigation, AND Industrialization
Discovery of Americas and its Impact on Commerce, Navigation, and Industrialization
The European exploration efforts and the subsequent discovery of the Americans was in the simplest terms, a capitalistic venture. Of course, it was accidental, but its primary goal had been to find a new sea route to the orient. The European desire to make more profits by cutting out the Arabs and Turkish nations from the trade is typical of any capitalistic venture. In addition, the idealistic desire to expand the horizons of the European reach coupled with the optimistic search for a completely new way of reaching the Orient was demonstrated in the efforts of Columbus and the European colonization, occupation and exploration of the Americas. The Age of Exploration offers a historical framework for the underlying economic conditions under that facilitated the exploration mission and the subsequent discoveries. During this time, conditions that were present provide important insight into how the changes took shape and their significance in the resulting centuries. Especially in the increased trade and relations and their impact on the previously struggling European economies, The discovery of the New World was fundamentally based on the economic needs of the period in that the economic circumstances of both the middle class and the governments were in decline. Out of a sense of economic need, the new frontier was perceived as a solution to reverse the economic decline. With a sense of adventure and need the desire to find a new route to the land of opportunity, the new India quest was simply inevitable. As such, this question will seek to establish the role of the discovery of Americas and other trades routes in the development of commerce, navigation, and later industrialization.
The arguments raised include the fact that development of marine and navigation technology was mainly as a result of European attempts to make a direct commercial contact with China that was believed to possess the finest of treasures. Columbus venture was funded and organized simply to discover a new means of reaching India for trade purposes. In fact, on arrival Columbus was convinced that he had arrived in Asia or the Indies, he even named the land West Indies and the natives of the new continent Indians. Once the European nations dissevered that the continent was not Asia but a wholly new resources rich and largely unexploited continent the typical capitalistic forces took over. The age of sail can be seen to develop significantly especially as a result of the need for Europeans to cross the Atlantic ocean. Navigation in the sea included the establishment of sea routes that were shaped and guided by the influence of winds and currents in the Atlantic. For example, nations in Europe began first sailing Southwards to reach the “trade winds” that would take them to the Caribbean as opposed to heading directly for the mainland Americas. On the return trip, it was considerably easier to follow the Gulf Stream using the Westerlies. Later marine technologies were developed in the late 19th century only to supplement this era.
The European interaction with Asia including China, India, and Japan was minimal primarily because of the imbalance of resources. The Asian countries were mainly self-sufficient with Europe lacking any resources that might have led to any significant increase in trade. The Chinese emperor in recognizing that the Europeans simply lacked any valuable materials that China could have sought demonstrates the imbalance of resources that limited trade. The discovery of Americas was the turning point in this trade. Europeans discovered Americas at the same point when the Chinese were shifting to the Silver. At this point, the Europeans were mining precious metals from the mines in Americas that were mined by the slaves from Africa. Silver then became a good that the Europeans could offer China that it lacked in significant amounts. It is even remarked that the silver obtained from Americas bought Europeans entry into the Chinese and Asian market in general.
It is also paramount to fully realize the impact of the discovery of Americas and rounding of the South Africa’s Cape had on commerce. Prior to these accomplishments, there was no significant global trade and the trade present was mainly conducted over land routes. However, with the discovery and exploitation of the resources in Americas trade emerged on a global scale. The triangular trade is a perfect demonstration of this, good and materials were moved across three different continents. The triangular trade involved the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Slaves were bought from Africa and taken to Americas for work in mines and plantations. The produce from mines and plantation was then taken to Europe for processing into finished goods. Finally, the finished goods were exported to Africa. Later the trade expanded to include other regions; for example, the same of silver from mines in the Americas to China by the Western Merchants.
While industrialization commenced independently of the discovery of the Americas and rounding of Cape, it is apparent that the resources obtained from the new world coupled with the role of trade played a major role in accelerating and facilitating industrialization in Europe and later, other countries. Britain led the way in the industrial revolution, and Historian Eric Williams argues that the profits received from colonial activities in Americas especially its sugar colonies and Slave trade played a major role in financing the British industrial revolution. In addition, the need to process the raw materials from Americas into finished goods for trade facilitated the growth of industries and development of technologies. The development of trade later allowed for England to develop its significant Navy that it used to its benefit in the 19th century.
The argument that global trade developed as a result of the discovery of Americas and the rounding of the cape is too simplistic. Trade has been demonstrated to emerge throughout the human history whenever surplus occurs. While the trade routes relied on would have been over land global trade seems to have been inevitable with the development of technology. In addition, the discovery of America did not herald a change in how trade was conducted. Rather, it simply increased the resources available for trade across different regions. With an examination of the efforts and resources geared by European nations including Portugal, the Dutch, and Britain towards the discovery of new trade routes it becomes apparent that global trade would have been attained by the Europeans even in the absence of Americas. It is also critical to note that the Chinese traders in the areas limited to Europeans were willing and did trade with them despite the common assumption that they had nothing they sought from the Europeans. The Chinese ruling class was opposed to the trade with Europeans, not the merchants. Therefore, the trade with China was viable for Europeans.
Karl Max and Engels also falsely assume that capitalism was initiated or birthed by the discovery of Americas or rounding of the cape. However, this view failed to differentiate the cause and effect relationship between capitalism and the exploration efforts that discovered Americas and allowed for the rounding of the cape. Simply put, it is capitalism that allowed and facilitated the discoveries as opposed to the discoveries birthing the capitalist era. The capitalistic nature of the European was what gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known. The idealistic, innovative, and capitalistic Europe was what led to the exploration efforts. For example, the first British attempt to discover a trade route to China in 1596 had the entire fleet commanded by Captain Benjamin Wood vanishing. However, in four decades the British had managed to get successfully a ship to Canton and begin trade negotiations. Similar examples can be found in the exploring countries across Europe.
It is also notable that numerous scholars have argued against the notion that transatlantic trade had a significant impact on the British economy during the industrialization era. It is interesting to note that most of the opposition is likely because slave trade was a significant part of the transatlantic trade. The theory that Britain gained significantly is referred to as “William’s thesis” and is considered inaccurate. The historian David Richardson argues that the profits from the Atlantic trade amounted to less than 1% of the domestic investment. In addition, the economist and historian Stanley Engerman has demonstrated the even without including the associated costs of the Transatlantic trade the total profits amounted to less than 5% of the British economy during the entire industrial revolution. Countries in Europe that later industrialized including France and Prussia did not accomplish it as a result of the discovery of Americas or rounding of the cape. As such, serious doubts have been cast on the notion that the trade resulting from the discovery of Americas had a significant impact on the emergence and growth of industrialization in Europe.
In conclusion, the development the discovery of Americas and the round of Cape town had a significant impact on the world and altered history irrevocably. Nonetheless, the relationship of the discovery and capitalism, especially in the fields of navigation, commerce, and industry, is debatable. On one hand, trade across the Atlantic contributed significantly to the development of marine and navigational technologies, Chinese trade was facilitated by Silver obtained from American mines, and true global commerce emerged as a direct result of Americas and rounding of Cape. On the other hand, global commerce seems to have been inevitable as a result of European persistence and the European economies that industrialized did not seem to have resulted from the Americas or rounding of the cape. In addition, capitalism led to the explorations as opposed to the reversal. Nevertheless, it is this paper's opinion that the discovery of Americas and rounding of cape played a key role in the commerce, navigation, and industry that would have otherwise taken decades and perhaps centuries to occur. The impact of such discoveries and their historical importance should not be ignored or misunderstood but explored further.
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