Silver DBQ Essay
The global flow of silver from the mid-sixteenth century to the early eighteenth century had vast effects both socially and economically around the world. By this time an interregional trade network had been clearly established and world trade was booming. When China, a prominent trade nation, accepted silver as its currency and would only exchange for it, the importance of silver increased. This new rapid scramble for silver proved to be both beneficial and disastrous. While countries which were lucky geographically in their supply of raw silver could now trade prominently with China, demand created an increase of labor and social unrest. Reliance on silver both helped and hindered economies and societies, bringing about a wide array of effects shown through China, England, and Spanish countries (Spain and Portugal).
In China, the rapid flow of silver proved soon to be disastrous. China did not have the raw supply of silver to thoroughly support its masses and found itself completely reliant on trade. The conditions of the working class fell as peasants and farmers found their goods of little value. Due to the “scarcity of the silver coin” (Doc. 3) the government could not afford to reimburse its people in silver what it had taken in taxes. Laborers receive less in return for their work, prices fall, and “less land is put into cultivation” (Doc. 3). Reports of this in peasant classes was only observed by officials, such as Wing Xijue and Ye Chunji, officials during the Ming dynasty. These officials could afford to simply observe for a time as they were above the social unrest of silver shortages. But as the economy and trade worsened, the attention of such officials was drawn closer. “The frugal man” could survive, whereas “the extravagant man” (Doc. 1) could not. It was growing clear that supply was running out. Chinese writers observed that now bills “must be paid with silver” (Doc. 5) no longer with other goods such as rice, chicken,...
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