American History: European Conquest of American Lands

Category: History

European Conquest of the Americans

According to Diamond (1997, 12), European colonizers arrived on the American continent in the year 1492. This is when Spanish explorers moved to the west in search of markets for their goods from the Far East. Europeans had a culture of living closely with domesticated animals such as cows, fowls, pigs, horses, sheep and goats. When they settled in the American continent, they continued with their lifestyle. Bruce (2005, 4), views that this later resulted into unknown wide spread of diseases to the American natives. The epidemics of diphtheria, influenza, smallpox, typhus and measles killed millions of Americans that had contact with the Europeans. 

Approximately 10 million to 20 million people lost their lives as a result of the epidemics. This accounted to about 95% of the indigenous American population. As a result, the colonialists took advantage of political and cultural instability created by the deaths to amass land and other resources left behind by the indigenous population. The human mortality witnessed made it hard to determine the exact population of pre-Columbian American. The deaths were devastating indeed; it was so enormous than ever witnessed in the American history (Crosby, 2004, 6).

The epidemics resulted in the creation of a Spanish empire in the American continent towards the end of the 16th century. The empire stretched from California to Mexico neighborhood of South America (Mann, 2006, 49). More European colonialists sailed in to settle in the newly acquired land. They came with their customs, religions and even the names of places which are still felt to date. The American trading culture was greatly impacted in that it was named after Christopher Columbus. The arrival of the European colonialists led to the decline of the indigenous population due to the epidemics created since the natives had no immunities, unlike the Europeans (Mann, 2005, 137). 

Agrarian Invention in Amerindian

MacGaw (1994, 18) writes that, although agriculture involving domestication of animals and plants began long ago it occurred independently in the Amerindian. Modern agricultural practices such as irrigation, use of fertilizers, pesticides and crop rotation has greatly improved food security as compared to the earlier ways of farming. It has enabled crops and animals to overcome earlier constraints as a result improved productivity. Human labor has as well been replaced by mechanized agriculture, which involves the use of pesticides, selective breeding and machinery. Increased food production implies a well-fed society, and a healthy society provides labor for economic advancement. This is because labor is a factor of production.

Agricultural mechanization has resulted in surplus production hence farmers are enjoying economies of scale. Surplus production led to the development of industries in Latin American especially in the US for value addition to the produced products. This continued to create more job opportunities in the industrial sectors. Food productivity led to increasing the fertility rate, and demand for other social amenities which further set in other innovations and created more demand. Therefore, one can easily infer that the agricultural revolution pioneered industrialization of the western countries especially the US (The Development of Industrial United States 1870-1900, 2013, 1).

On the other hand, increased mechanization of agriculture has generated both political and environmental debates over its effects on the environments. Some scholars argue that increased mechanization of agriculture has resulted and continue to adversely affect the environment (SwaSwarthmore College Environmental Studies, 2013, 1). This is in the form of water pollution, genetically modified organisms and bio-fuels. Biofuels' are the main causes of the greenhouse effects, which is indeed a dangerous phenomenon. Nations are today negotiating on the means of averting this scenario especially the industrialized nations of the world (Knecht, 1997, 12).  


Bruce R. (1491). Discovering what Americas were like before Columbus. The Seattle Times, August 12, 2005. pp 4

Crosby, A. W. (2004). Ecological imperialism: The biological expansion of Europe, 900-1900. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.pp 1-120

Diamond, J. M. (1997). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.pp 10-20

Knecht, H. (1997). Projectile technology. New York, NY: Plenum Press.pp 12

MacGaw, J. A. (1994). Early American technology: Making and doing things from the colonial era to 1850. Chapel Hill. Univesity of North Carolina Press.pp 5-20

Mann C.C. (2005). 1491: New revelations of the Americas before Columbus. New York: Vintage Books.

Mann, C. C. (2006). 1491: New revelations of the Americas before Columbus, 2nd Edition. New York: Vintage Books.

Swarthmore College Environmental Studies. (2013). Industrialization and the environment. Retrieved from:

The Development of Industrial United States 1870-1900. (2013). Retrieved from: