History 312 – TuTh 10:30-11:50
19 March 2013
The East to West Revolution – Settlement of the Colonies
People often say things about how the United States, with its revolutionary political and economic system, must have been around for a long time in order to achieve the world standing it holds today. This isn’t the case though. In fact, when compared to great civilizations like the Roman Empire which lasted almost 12 centuries, many would say that the United States is still in its infancy. Much in the same way, the political and economic systems the U.S. is famous for are seen to be derived from past civilizations as well. But this of course leads us to asking the inevitable questions of where did it all begin, and what caused people to settle here in America of all places. In order to answer this however, we have to look back past explorers and crusades. Past the kings, uprisings, revolts, and trade routes. We must go back in time to the Roman Empire itself, specifically in the year 476 BCE; the time when everything was falling apart in Rome.
We all know the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and much in the same way one could say that it didn’t end in a day either. It was a major power at the time with a full scale economy, a concrete political system, and a seemingly stable infrastructure. The fall of this empire, be it from the power struggles between the Emperor and the Senate which ended up bringing about the phrase “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, the decline in morals which led to the view of romans as being a lewd society, the rapid growth of the empire which created an ever growing need to protect the borders of the empire, the failing economy due to the cost of defense spending and the constant amount of gold being lost to other empires via trade, or the constant attacks of the barbarians who were continually getting stronger and more accustomed to Roman military tactics, taught the people within the Empire and throughout the world at that time a major and important lesson that is still seen around the world today. The lesson was that all good things come to an end, and when some things in life start to go bad, it might be best to pack up and go somewhere else.
Fast forward to the year 1000 CE, to a time when things have begun to settle down from the destruction of the Roman Empire, which had split into the barbarian west, the Byzantine east, and the Islamic south. At this time, the main focus of the world was on that of the Indian, East African, and Indonesian; the Indic people. The reason for this focus was due to the cultural prosperity, the amount of rare and valuable commodities such as precious metals and crops, and the aesthetic values of the culture which other world powers wanted to emulate at the time. Naturally, since the Indic people had things other cultures wanted and vice versa, trading occurred. People came on foot, in wagon, on boats and all methods in between in order to trade, and naturally it brought about a question on everyones mind: How do I make this faster? How do I get to the place I want to go, get what I want, and get back home as quickly as possible? This question, which was being asked by everyone in and associated with any type of trade, spurred on the race of a century to find the best trade routes. A race which eventually led to one of the greatest geographic findings in history: The discovery of America.
Quite often, when a person is asked the question of who found America, they reply with a name that Americans are all too common with. Christopher Columbus. However, as famous and important a person as Christopher Columbus is, it is believed that the Chinese were actually the first to discover America on their expeditions to find new trade routes many years before Columbus. During the early 14th century, the Chinese were well ahead of the rest of the world in terms of technological and tactical...