Silver DBQ

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WHAP- Period 8
17 February 2014
A Silver trade (Potosí is still looking for a Silver Lining)
Silver, first discovered in what is present day Bolivia, and simultaneously in Japan was the first direct and sustained link of trade between the Americas and Asia. The silver trade emerged and expanded during the mid-sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century, primarily exporting from Japan and the Philippines, and quickly became the first truly global trade network. While it initially seemed to promise economic success to the producers and receivers, silver yielded them many problems, yet the middlemen were able to benefit.

Spain, as an important part of the global silver trade, was at first making extreme profit, but in time was unable to maintain their economy and position as a dominant Western European power. As stated in 1571 by Tomás de Mercado, a Spanish scholar, Spain became increasingly involved in the purchasing of luxury goods from Asia. This increased purchasing led to the out flow of silver in order to pay for them, which in turn hurt the Spanish economy. (Doc 2). Mercado notices that Spain’s control of Manila is yielding lots of potential wealth in silver, but Spain is more concerned with trading away the silver for luxury goods. This mentality of luxury over enterprise is what determines Spain’s downfall from domination. While the silver trade made it’s greatest impact economically, it also made a large impact on the social aspects of life. The largest social impact is most evident in areas such as Potosí, Spain’s largest American silver mining city, where the native’s lives were completely altered by the discovery of the precious ore. As Antonio Vasquez de Espinosa, a Spanish priest, observed, the natives worked in extremely dangerous and horrific conditions (Doc 6). These conditions for natives were so terrible that families of the men drafted often held funeral services for them because they were most likely not going to survive for very...
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