how devastating was disease to the Ameridian population

Feb 2007
400
Exactly how damaging was the new diseases carried by colonists to the Native American Population?

I have always been told that it almost wiped them out, but if you look at the populations of Central America, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Carribean, Venezuela, it shows otherwise.

If the Diseases carried by colonists were so damaging, then were do the Mestizos that make up a large part of all those countries come from?

Also did the Ameridians spread any disease to the colonists.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
OK, lets say the Amerindians numbered 10 million in the New World in 1492. Within a few years, their number is reduced to 1 million, in a wave of death by disease spreading out ahead of the conquest. Twenty years later, those million have arranged themselves into families and produced, say, another 2 million. Within 60 years or so, there'd be 8 million kids running around, in addition to their parents, and grand-parents.

So, I don't know what you mean about the populations of Central America, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Carribean, Venezuela showing otherwise. Sure, pandemics kill a lot of people, but the mathematics of human reproduction quickly push the population back up to the natural carrying capacity of the eco-system.

Exactly how damaging were the new diseases? Depends. If you died of the measles in 1494, it was as damaging as can be. If you were the grandson of one of the survivors, measles was just something you had when you were a kid and then got well again - not damaging at all.

I suppose the waves of pandemics spreading out ahead of the European conquest made things easier for the conquistadors, but it's not like they knew they were waging germ warfare. That came later.
 
Feb 2007
400
Well back then, kids and people died from other things at a pretty high rate.

Not all of that 1 million would have reproduced successfully or at all. They would have been spread out by a lot. Unless the Conquistadors gathered all of the survivors and made them workers, and then had them reproduce.
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
PADDYBOY,

I could be wrong, but I think tobacco-related death only became an issue after people started dropping dead from "old age" after 50.

JerseyPerson14,

You wrote that not all of that 1 million would have reproduced successfully or at all. True. But of those who did, some would bear more than two offspring. It evens out. But even if it took more than 60 years to get back to 10 million, what of it? The Amerindian cultures would have been replaced even without any European germs. Columbus' ships were insured. The Aztecs didn't even have banks.
 

PADDYBOY

Historum Emeritas
Jan 2007
6,521
Scotland
I know I'm a tad of subject here, but just to give you an idea of the affects that a catastrophe such as this would have on the native population, here are some accounts of the affects on the social status of medieval England from the BLACK DEATH :eek:

In medieval England, the black death killed about one and a half million people out of an estimated four million people, about a third.Written evidence from the time indicates that nearly all the victims died within three days, though a small number did last for four days. :eek:
Those who survived the black death believed that there was something special about them-Almost as if God had protected them, therefore they took the opportunity offered by the disease to improve their lifestyle :cool:

The black death had caused a shortage of labour and over the next one hundred years (1350-1450) many peasants found they could earn more (by their standards) as the lords needed a harvest in and the only people who could do it were the peasants, they asked for more money and the lords had to give it.


Bloody liberals again :D
 
Jun 2007
240
I think that the number of Indian people died because of diseases also altered over time. It is very hard. But even putting them to the least number, the devastation still showed very enormous result.

The term "diseases" must be states clearly: I think the deadliest killer was smallpox and typhus, then a long list with other "monsters" that had written one of the bloodies chapter in human history: Cholera, diphtheria, bubonic plague, malaria, yellow fever,...

The issue proves even more complicated since we must examine the effect of these "MONSTERS" in different areas of America, different times and the causes, too.

Am I right?
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Here's a brief summary of worldwide epidemics -

http://www.genealogyinc.com/enc_epidemics/index.html

In retrospect, I think one can rightly say that the meeting of the Old and New Worlds was particularly devastating for the latter on account of the fact that the armed invasion and colonization was following along right behind the leading edge of the spread of the various infections.

On the other hand, it got the killing over with quicker. It's not as if the Euro-types were going to be denied possession of, domination of, the Americas regardless. That is proved by the way the descendants of the survivors were handled.
 
Feb 2007
538
Ohio
Any time you have two large population groups coming in contact with each other, both population groups will be exposed to new diseases to which they have no natural immunity. The New World's gift to the Old World was syphilis (the gift that keeps on giving) ... and that killed off 1/3 the population of Europe. Another much-neglected aspect of this debate is that estimates of the pre-Columbian population vary quite wildly.
 
Feb 2007
538
Ohio
The black death had caused a shortage of labour and over the next one hundred years (1350-1450) many peasants found they could earn more (by their standards) as the lords needed a harvest in and the only people who could do it were the peasants, they asked for more money and the lords had to give it.


Bloody liberals again :D
No, 'taint the bloody libs, it's just good ol' supply & demand in action