14 October 2015

Gold Rush in the Americas

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

After 1500, Portugal, France, Holland, and Britain joined in conquering the Americas. Columbus’s gold finds on Haiti were soon dwarfed by discoveries of gold and silver in Mexico and the Andes. European religious and political leaders quickly amassed so much gold that they applied gold leaf to the ceilings of their churches and palaces, erected golden statues in the corners, and strung vines of golden grapes between them.

Gold and silver from America replaced land as the basis for wealth and status, increasing the power of the new merchant class that would soon dominate the world. Where Muslim nations had once rivaled Europe, the new wealth undermined Islamic power. American gold and silver fueled a 400 percent inflation that eroded the economies of most non-European countries and helped Europe to develop a global market system. Africa suffered: the trans-Saharan trade collapsed, because the Americas supplied more gold and silver than the Gold Coast ever could. African traders now had only one commodity that Europe wanted: slaves.

No comments: