DBQ Essay Chapter 17
Spanish colonial America and Tokugawa Japan led the world in silver production from 1500 to 1750. The global flow of silver had several effects on social and economic life in various areas of the world. It created a growing inequality in social structure and caused the standard of living to go up. Also, it caused a significant inflation of prices, it destroyed the Spanish economy, and it allowed other European nations not only to afford Asian goods, but make profit off of them by reselling them to other nations.
Imports of silver caused a growing inequality between the rich and the poor. According to writer Xu Dunqiu Ming, trading became difficult after silver replaced bartering as the method of payment, being that silver was scarce and it was highly difficult for the poor to obtain silver (Doc. 5). Ming has a valid point of view because, being a writer, Ming is not affected by these events, and represents those affected with a real, valid story. Ming dynasty court official Wang Xijue makes a report to the emperor discussing how silver is scarce, yet the government requires it for taxes and disburses little of it in its expenditures, creating problems for the poor in the districts (Doc. 3). The court official is simply making an honest suggestion with the thought of improving the empire in the back of his mind, seeing the problem this situation could turn into if improvements aren’t made. Not only were the poor struggling to find silver to get by, but they were also used in forced labor systems to retrieve the silver. More than 3,000 Indians worked hard down in the Potosí silver mine in harsh conditions only to have it sent to Spain and eventually other nations as well (Doc.6). The author of the excerpt in document six, a Spanish priest by the name of Antonio Vázquez de Espinosa, believes in doing well by God and sympathizes for the men while disagreeing with the forced labor system. Along with causing this growing inequality in social...
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