The Atlantic Paradox Summary

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The concept of the “Atlantic Paradox” involves viewing the Atlantic Ocean as both a moat and a bridge between the continents. While physically separating America from Europe and Africa, the Atlantic Ocean has also served as a means to get from one place to another, bringing fortunes for some and terror for others. The Atlantic Paradox affected the peoples of Europe, Africa, and America first through being a barrier of safety, yet also helping to ignite the slave trade, introduce different cultures, and make Europeans wealthy while decimating native populations. During the 15th century, Europeans were able to gain the knowledge enabling them to sail the Atlantic Ocean, first around Africa and eventually, all the way to America. The Atlantic…show more content…
Benjamin W. Labaree’s article, The Atlantic Paradox, discusses in detail the results of Columbus’ contact, turning the great bridge of the Atlantic into a connection to the New World. The Columbian Exchange, which was the transfer of animal, plants, and diseases between the continents, also mixed cultures and ideas together as well. Even though American natives lost more than they gained when their western boundary failed them, they still benefited in some ways through trade, such as the use of Spanish horses to hunt buffalos, a much more effective way for the Plains Indians. The contact, however, triggered a decimation of Native populations, not necessarily from violence, but from a lack of immunity to European diseases. In this way, the Atlantic moat actually caused more harm than good for Native Americans, by being cut off from the rest of the world for so long, their immune systems could not defend themselves from the diseases that Europeans brought over with them. Europeans, however, saw the pristine natural resources as the perfect profit, gaining gold, silver, furs, and fish. The climate in South America was also perfect for growing luxury crops such as sugar, bringing another positive aspect upon European people from their use of the Atlantic as a bridge rather than a moat (Notes) (Labaree
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