Throughout the centuries trade has produced many benefits for the countries involved, the greatest of these is cross cultural interactions. Each person who traveled to trade with other countries took back not only goods and gold or silver, but also a piece of that different culture. The travelers and traders to new lands brought with them traditions, religion, and languages, knowledge of science and philosophy as well as numbers and works of art. All throughout the world you can see the influence that different cultures had played upon each other. Without trade and cross cultural interactions many countries would not exist today. Through this interaction we are also able to see how the preverbal other half lives and how they go about their daily existence. We as travelers and traders have taken a piece of each culture with us as we make our way throughout the world.
The Melting Pot
America is truly a melting pot of various cultures brought here because of trade. Many second sons and those who could not make their way through the world came from all over Europe. These brave men and women from England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain had crossed the Atlantic to the new world of the Americas to search for their fortunes. Their fortunes resulted from the trade of such exports as cotton, tobacco, furs, corn, timber, and wheat. One of the largest imports in to the new world of America was the importing of slaves from Africa. These slaves brought with them a culture that many countries had never experienced before. The African slaves taught the people of the Americas an almost pagan religion that still exists and fascinates the American public today, voodoo. This religion helped form many neighborhoods in New Orleans as well as the Creole culture.
When Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue
Perhaps the largest of these exchanges were the Columbian exchanges, which pushed the world’s regions towards interdependence and global integration. During the age of transoceanic encounters many exchanges involved biological species: plant, food crops, animals, human populations, and diseases spread to regions that they had not been to before. Some of these exchanges had differing and drastic changes on the human population, destroying some through disease and helping others through increased food crops. This is another example of how trade affected cross cultural interactions. If Columbus never thought to sail west to China the native people of the Americas may have never had to suffer through the epidemics that Europeans brought with them, yet many countries would have died out without the sustenance provided by the food crops of the Americas.
An Apple a Day
Many countries were grateful for the crops provided by the Americas. These food crops included maize, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, manioc, and pineapples. After being transported to many different countries these food crops became a large part of the culture. Due to these food stuffs many diseases in Western Europe had lost their ferocity. Better nourished, people were able to fight off the viruses that caused many diseases. Populations began to rise throughout Europe and Russia.
Supply and Demand
More than food stuffs were introduced through trade. Without trade how would we learn of and experiment with early capitalism and protoindustrialization that lead to economics; supply and demand, as well as joint-stock companies such as the East India Company These ventures helped to propel trade into a new era of capitalism and politics. Men became more interested in banking and finance, changing the traditional ways money was exchanged in many cultures in Western Europe. These banks began to publish business newsletters, expanding the publishing market as well as the financial one. Politically capitalism was at its best throughout the early modern era. Because of this, capitalism developed in the context of imperialism. The merchants were authorized to explore, conquer, and colonize distance lands. As the volume of trade increased, the major trading cities and ports grew rapidly, attracting buyers, sellers, brokers, and bankers from parts near and far.[i]
Trade was now responsible for another cross cultural interaction, war. England and the Netherlands fought against Portugal for trading posts in the middle and south East. The English and Dutch forced the Portuguese out of the trade race and then began to fight against each other for land in the Americas. The fight for new lands and colonization brought many people of different cultures to the Americas. Once they crossed the Atlantic Ocean they knew that there was no return to their homeland. Many of these explorers were part of the East India Company or another joint-stock venture. They explored, colonized, and conquered until they put the stamp of their culture upon this new land. The men came first, finding a rich new land filled with many exports to send back to their native lands, and then came the women and the children. Homes were built and then towns.
The Birth of a Settlement
In North America, the French and English encountered indigenous people that had formed many densely settled societies. Some of these Native Americans were friendly to the newcomers. Willing to share their knowledge of food stuffs with the Europeans, others were not and blamed the strangers for the death that came to many people in the tribes. King James I of England was impressed by these noble savages and invited the chief of one tribe in Jamestown to come and visit with him so he could discuss peace between the two nations. Instead of chief Powhatan arrived his daughter, Pocahontas. She brought with her to England her beliefs and culture of the Americas. By marrying an English noble, she partook in biological exchange. Without trade it would be a sad lonely world. Long distance travel of all kinds, whether for commercial, political, diplomatic, or missionary proposes encouraged cultural exchanges between peoples of different societies.[ii] It is a never ending cycle. People trade with each other bringing biological exchanges and cross cultural interactions. Without trade it would be hard for some cultures to exist; without these cultures, trade would not exist.
[i] Traditions and Encounters Chapter 22 Page 575
[ii] Traditions and Encounters Chapter 22 Page 582