Tobacco Essay

761 words - 4 pages

During the time period 1450 to 1750, the world went through major change and development. Nomadic power declined, and European Kingdoms became world powers. A world trade network was set up as contact amongst nations increased immensely. A population boom occurred throughout the world. Many civilizations that were once isolated were brought into the world economy. The Americas unknown until Christopher Columbus’ voyage in 1492 became a major part of the world economy as many European nations colonized much of the land. Large sea trade arose during this time period first by the Portuguese and Spanish and later by the English, French and Dutch. As European countries began exploring the Americas, an exchange of crops, animals, raw materials, diseases and new ideas were exchanged between the Americas and the rest of the world. This is known as the Columbian Exchange. One major component of the Columbian Exchange was the discovery of tobacco. Tobacco was first discovered in the Americas and became as cash crop. It was imported back to Europe, where it became vastly popular. As many middle class Europeans people began smoking, the demand for more tobacco from the Americas increased; colonies were set up to produce tobacco. With the demand for tobacco so high, labor was needed to farm the crop causing slaves to be imported.
There is no exact date to when the discovery of tobacco occurred, but tobacco dates as far back to the Mayans and Aztecs. The Mayans burned tobacco as incense on the tribute altars to please the gods. The Aztecs used the smoke of tobacco in ceremonies were captives were slain in sacrifice to the god Tezcatlipoca. Tobacco was believed to be a curing drug that would relive pain. The first European that saw tobacco was Columbus during his voyage to the Americas. In his journal, Columbus wrote about certain dried leaves that gave off a distinct smell when he first came into contact with the Native Americas. Soon after, tobacco was brought back to Europe and soon became very popular. At first, tobacco was perceived in a negative way as the smell produced from the smoke gave off a foul odor. World leaders such as King James I did not encourage tobacco use because he considered it stinking. He...

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