Skip to main content



16.1 Introduction

16.2 Migration in History
16.2.1 Economy
16.2.2 Climate

16.2.3 Culture

16.3 The European Expansion: 1400 – 1800
16.3.1 Migrations to South America
16.3.2 Migrations to North America

16.3.3 The English and French Approaches to Migration

16.4 A Biological Invasion

16.5 Forced Migration and Slavery

16.6 Summary

16.7 Exercises


Cross-continental migrations of people started with the origin of humanity and continues till now. Migrations occur for economic reasons and occasionally also result due to coercion by the political regime. The latter type of migration could be categorized as forced migration. The migration of the Europeans in the early modern era was most systematic and well recorded. This migration was mostly sea borne and occurred in the east-west direction. Along with human beings, this migration also involved movement of animals, plants and diseases. Some of the migrations occurred long before speech and writing was invented. So, detailed accounts of these migrations are lost forever in the mist of time. In this Unit you will study different patterns of immigrations, socio- economic and political changes brought out by them and how they have affected world history, particularly during modern times


Probably human beings (homo sapiens) first surfaced in Central Africa. Many thousands of years ago, India and Africa were linked by a land bridge. So, from Central Africa, some marched into India. These migrants in history are known as Dravidians. They introduced agriculture and the art of constructing cities in the subcontinent. The landmass known as Gondwanaland moved up in the northerly direction due to changes in plate tectonics. This resulted in breaking up of the land connection with Africa and crushing of the Tethys Sea which became the Himalayas. About 50,000 years ago, the people from South East Asia settled in Australia. They reached Australia by island hopping in small canoes. Or probably a landmass connected Australia with South East Asia which in later times broke up and now constitutes the Indonesian archipelago. At that time, the sea levels were much lower than at present. The aborigines of Australia moved further east and inhabited New Zealand and Polynesia. Around 35,000 BC, the hunters from Siberia crossed the Bering Straits and moved into Alaska. They migrated down
south into Chile. The descendants of these early migrants are the ‘native Americans’

Expansion of Europe whom the Europeans of the post-Columbian era encountered. Around 3000 BC a group of people in Central Asia speaking what philologists call Indo-Aryan language moved into India, Persia (Iran) and in the region along eastern Mediterranean. In India they are known as Aryans. In Persia they are known as Indo-Iranians. And in the Balkans they are known as Dorians who founded the Greek Civilization. The Germans also trace their ancestry to the Indo-Aryan groups settled in Central Europe.

Long before Columbus, the Vikings in their longships discovered Greenland and also made a landfall in Newfoundland. However, large scale migration from Scandinavia to Iceland, Greenland and North America did not occur. Rather the Scandinavians and the Goths moved south into central and southern Europe. Demographic expansion pushed the Goths further south into the Roman Mediterranean. German (Teutons and the Goths) tribal invasions had occurred before 100 BC but became more systematic after 350 AD. The Germans attacked the Western Roman Empire due to rising demographic pressure and the riches that could be obtained by plundering the rich Roman provinces of Gaul (France), Spain and Italy. Why did these migrations take place? Scholars have pointed out a number of factors that motivated these migrations. Let us look at some of them.

16.2.1 Economy

The lure of fertile land, pillage and plunder as well as prospect of trade also encouraged migrations and settlements. Greece was full of mountains and ravines. Fertile agricultural land was scarce and quite constricted. The land hunger of the Greeks encouraged city states like Corinth to occupy Sicily and South Italy where Greek cities like Tarentum, Regusia, etc came up around 400-300 BC. The Greeks exported wine and olive oil and imported wheat especially from the Black Sea region. Because the staying power of the triremes was small, during the night every Greek ship had to make a landfall along the coast. The maritime trade route moved across the straits of the Dardanelles hugging the shoreline of Asia Minor. And the prospect of monopolizing maritime trade with Anatolia (Turkey) and the Danubian principalities encouraged Athens to set up colonies along the coast of Asia Minor. Before the Greeks, when the Achaemenid Emperors of Persia occupied Tyre, the chief city of the Phoenicians, mass migration of the latter occurred. The Phoenicians were the best mariners and most aggressive traders of the ancient world. They founded the city of Carthage in Tunisia in North Africa. The Phoenicians also founded colonies along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Spain. Carthage colonized Sardinia and Corsica.

Afghanistan is full of ragged mountains. Some of the tribes survive even now by practising pastoral nomadism. The deficit economy of the Afghans forced them to migrate to India with their families in the medieval era. As military labourers the Afghans took service with the Delhi Sultans and the Mughal Emperors and settled in India especially in the fertile plains of Rohilkhand and Bihar.

16.2.2 Climate

Climatic changes also generated large scale migration for survival. The gradual desiccation of Central Asia pushed the steppe nomadic tribes into Southern Asia and Eastern Europe. Due to the drying up of the heartland of Eurasia and falling water table, the horse riding nomads attacked the sedentary civilization. The Chinese called them hsung-nu (horse people). One group of Central Asian nomads known as Huns migrated west along with their families. They attacked India, Persia and both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Some of the Huns settled in present day Rajasthan, Gujarat and Sindh. In India the descendants of the Huns were known as Scythians who after intermarriages
16 came to be known as Rajputs. Long before the Huns, Persia encountered intrusion of

the Central Asian nomads in the form of Scythians and Parthians. Along with the Huns, Sarmatians and Avars (other branches of the Central Asian nomads) also attacked both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires. Some of the Central Asian tribes settled in Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The present day Magyars of Hungary were descendants of the Huns. Increasing cold in Scandinavia also encouraged Viking migration in the late medieval age. The Vikings settled in Denmark, England, Normandy province in France and also in south Italy. By sailing along the rivers of Russia, the Vikings also reached the Eastern Roman Empire or the Byzantine Empire. Some Vikings settled in the trans-Caucasus region.

16.2.3 Culture

Besides economy, climate, demography and technology, culture has also been an important determinant of migration and settlement. In 1400 China’s maritime technology was equal to that of West Europe. During 1405-33, China had maritime relations with South East Asia. A Chinese fleet under Admiral Cheng Ho came upto East Africa by sailing along Sri Lanka. The Chinese junks also visited the shores of Australia and the Pacific coast of North America. But, Confucian China held itself to be culturally and politically superior to its neighbours. China looked down upon the surrounding nations as barbarians who were fit only to pay tribute to the Chinese Emperor. Cheng Ho’s voyages were motivated by a quest for tribute and for luxuries and curiosities for the Chinese court and not by a desire to extend China’s knowledge about the rest of the world or to establish permanent maritime trade relations and overseas settlements. Commerce and merchants occupied a low position within the Chinese Empire. In contrast, the merchants in early modern Europe were assertive and prosperous. Cheng Ho’s voyages were not followed up by the Ming dynasty which retreated into its self- imposed isolation till the mid-seventeenth century. Thus Confucianism in a way discouraged discovery and settlement of the overseas regions. Again, the Romans believed that the world was in the shape of a square and if anybody were to sail beyond the straits of Gibraltar into Atlantic, he would fall into hell. This discouraged a Roman breakout from the constricted inland Mediterranean Sea into the western direction. Associated with culture is the factor of religion. Driven by poverty and the zeal of Islam, the Arabs in the seventh century burst out of the desert of Arabia and settled along the coast of North Africa, Asia Minor and Ajam (Iran and Iraq).
Migration and

16.3 THE EUROPEAN EXPANSION: 1400 ---1800

The era of mass migration of the Europeans in the extra-European world was preceded by what could be categorized as the ‘Age of Discovery’. The latter term refers to intensive maritime exploration of the oceans by the European mariners. For the first time, Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe during 1519-22. The sturdy European cogs could cross the Atlantic regularly. Relying on a new capacity for long distance voyaging the Europeans charted out the coastal features and principal outlines of the major landmasses of the globe thus creating a new sort of knowledge which previously did not exist. According to David Arnold, the age of discovery was sustained by the invention of printing press. William Caxton first printed books in 1470s. Printed pamphlets and books along with sophisticated techniques of map making disseminated knowledge about the new worlds. This occurred during the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. The mastery over the seas and the growth of European geographical knowledge enabled the Europeans to control the commerce of the non-European world. This also aided the expansion of European territorial control in the non-European
world. 17

Expansion of Europe The principal motive behind Europe’s expansionist drive was the search for trade. Europe saw itself as the poorer neighbour of Asia and Africa. This was because of the exaggerated travellers’ tales and the nature of products which reached Europe. Africa and Asia exported gold, jewel, silk, carpets, spices and porcelains to Europe. All these created the notion among the Europeans about luxury, wealth, skilled artisans and thriving craft industries in Afro-Asia. The Indonesian archipelago was famous for spice. Cloves were grown in the Moluccas, nutmeg and mace in the Banda islands and pepper in Sumatra. Sri Lanka was famous for cinnamon and South West India (Malabar coast) produced pepper. Due to inadequate fodder, the animals in Europe had to be slaughtered before every winter. There were few fruits and vegetables available at that time. And the principal diet of the Europeans remained meat. Spice was used to add flavour to the stale and salted meat. Spices were also used in the cakes, drinks and confectionary. Very few European products were in demand in the East. Coarse woollen goods produced in Europe had no takers in the East. The Europeans needed gold in order to pay for goods brought from Asia and for coinage which was required to sustain Europe’s internal trade. This ‘gold famine’ encouraged the Europeans to explore and trade overseas. The Europeans also searched for fish at ever increasing distances from Europe’s shores. Dried salted cod formed a major item of Portugal’s trade with the rest of Europe. In search of fish, the Portuguese moved west of North West Africa and in the North Atlantic where the discovery of Azores in the 1430s gave them a strategic base for further reconnaissance of the mid Atlantic. Before Cabral’s discovery of Brazil, the Portuguese had conducted reconnaissance of the shores of South America. Spain, from its bases in the Caribbean islands, despatched repeated expeditions in search of a route to the East Indies for getting spices.

Instead of the Italian cities which were most interested in maritime trade, it was the West European powers which took the lead in oceanic voyages. This was partly because the Italian galleys were suited for calmer waters of Mediterranean than the rough seas of the Atlantic. Again the geographic position of Spain, Portugal and Britain is more suited than Venice and Genoa for undertaking exploration of the Atlantic. The Italian cities were more interested in continuing their traditional lucrative trade with Asia through Levant rather than to engage in the risky Atlantic ventures especially when economic returns from such explorations remained uncertain.

Initially the European enclaves in the newly discovered lands were forts and ports. In Asia the indigenous potentates were quite powerful. The Ottoman Empire, the Ming Empire and the Mughal Empire were formidable entities. In such a scenario, the Europeans found themselves in the role of supplicants and observers rather than as conquerors and settlers. Since indigenous resistance in the New World was weak, the European coastal enclaves quickly expanded into big territorial empires. Unlike the commercial empires of the Italian city states, Spain went for a territorial empire. The mobile sheep herders of southern Spain and the cattle herders of Andalusia joined the ranks of conquerors and functioned as soldier-settlers. Militant Christianity enabled them to believe that they were bound to win and bring the heathens into the fold of Christianity. The search for the mythical Christian King Prester John who would aid the Europeans in their struggle against the Muslims also encouraged the voyages of discovery. Finally the search for a route to India was part of the Spanish programme of Reconquista i.e. the crusade against Islam. This was because the Muslim Ottomans controlled the land routes to Asia.

16.3.1 Migrations to South America

Columbus found gold in Hispaniola which in turn attracted more European settlers. Returning to the West Indies in 1493, Columbus brought 1500 settlers with him including
18 farmers and craftsmen to colonize Hispaniola. Another 2500 arrived in 1502. They

were expected to form a self-sufficient community. But, the Spanish conquerors, greedy for gold and contemptuous of manual labour, had no intention of tilling the land. The Crown of Castile granted them legal power to command the labour of the local populace. Many Indians died due to harsh treatment at the hands of the settlers. The search for labour resulted in the conquest of Puerto Rico in 1508, Jamaica in 1509, and Cuba in
1511. Cuba, settled by Diego de Valazquez, started yielding gold from 1511 onwards. The aggressive land hungry conquerors then moved on to the mainland of America. In
1519 an expedition of about 600 men with 16 horses, 14 cannons and 13 muskets arrived under Hernan Cortes on the Gulf coast of Mexico from Cuba.

In 1428 the Aztecs defeated the city state of Atzcapotzalco and established an empire that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Coast. However, the Americans’ stone edged swords and fire hardened arrows were no match against the steel swords and cannons of the Europeans. The Spanish were able to defeat Montezuma in 1521. Between 1522 and 1524 most of the Pacific coast as far north as Santiago River was conquered. The interior was full of dense rain forest, big rivers, riparian swamps and mountain ranges.

Pachauti Inca in 1438 defeated Chimu and controlled northern Peru. He established a dynamic centralized state. Topa Inca (1471-93) conquered northern Chile and northern Argentina. His successor Huyana Capac (1493-1525) conquered Ecuador. From the core area of Peru, the Incas extended their dominion upto Ecuador in the north and Maule River in Chile in the south. At heights between 9000 and 13000 feet the Incas established an empire which from north to south extended upto 2175 miles. The empire was held together by an impressive road system. Their cities were built of solid dressed stones. The capital was Cuzco. Huyana Capac founded a second capital at Quito. In
1531 Francisco Pizarro invaded Peru with 180 men and 27 horses. At that time, the
Inca Empire was passing through a succession crisis. Atahualpa and his half brother Huescar were dominant in the northern and southern sections of the empire respectively. Atahualpa commanded 65000 men. Nevertheless hand held firearms and cannons gave victory to the small European forces. Almagro traversed Bolivia and penetrated into Chile before returning to Cuzco in 1537. Almagro’s reconnaissance in force was followed by Pedro de Valdivia who in 1541 founded the city of Santiago and settled Spanish farming communities. Around 1572, the Inca resistance came to an end in Peru.

By 1600, Portugal was controlling Brazil, West Africa plus the seaboard of China. And the Spanish American Empire extended from Texas to Chile. The Araucanians in Central Chile and the Muras in Central Amazonia tried to check the aggression of the Europeans unsuccessfully. The Maya Civilization (also known as Itzas) extended along Guatemala and Yucatan. In 1523 Pedro de Alvarado attacked the Mayas at Guatemala. The Mayas lacked political unity. Fighting was going on between the Cakchiquel and Quiche. This internal division allowed Alvarado to subdue both. Nojpeten, the capital of the Maya people fell to Spanish attack in 1697.

16.3.2 Migrations to North America

From Mexico, the Spaniards expanded north into the southern portion of North America. In 1781 the Yuma rebellion thwarted Spanish expansion along the Colorado Valley into Arizona. Due to pressure on the Great Plains, the tribes like Comanche and Utes started moving south and exerted pressure along the northern section of the fledgling Spanish frontier. These tribes were mounted on horses and equipped with firearms supplied by the French. By 1790 the Spaniards expanded in California.

The North American tribes practised rudimentary hunting and fishing. The British in
North America after settling down became fishermen, farmers, traders, etc. The early
Migration and


Expansion of Europe English settlements in Americas were at Jamestown and Virginia. In 1760 fighting broke out between the British and the Cherokee whose hunting land in east Tennessee and west North Carolina were under pressure due to the advancing frontier of British- American control and settlement.

In 1608, the French settled in Quebec. In 1699 Pierre Le Moyne founded Fort Maurepas in Biloxi Bay, Mobile was set up in 1702 and New Orleans in 1718. The French also consolidated their position on St. Lawrence in 1701. French missions were already established at Cahokia in 1699 and in Kaskaskia in 1703 on the upper Mississippi. Fort St. Charles came up on the Lake of the Woods in 1732 followed by another fort at the southern end of Lake Winnipeg. In 1732 the French established a garrison post to check the Chickasaws. Fort La Reine in 1738 was established on the Assiniboine River. Fort Bourbon in 1739 expanded French presence to the northwest shore of Lake Winnipeg and Fort Dauphin established French presence on the western shore of Lake Winnipegosis. In 1748 Fort St. Jean was rebuilt to strengthen the French position near Lake Champlain. A new wagon road linked the fort to Montreal. In 1750 the French erected Fort Rouille (Toronto). And Fort La Corne in 1753 came up near the Forks of the Saskatchewan. In the south the French expanded from Louisiana. The Natchez tribe around New Orleans was crushed by the French.

In the sixteenth century, between 1000 and 2000 Iberians migrated to the Americas annually. During the 1630-40s, the Europeans were attracted towards West Indies due to availability of land in easy terms which was used for growing tobacco, indigo and cotton. In 1640 the population of Barbados was 30000 or 200 per square mile. St. Kitts’ population in the same year was 20000. In the middle of the century, the shift was towards large scale sugar plantations. Between 30000 and 50000 white migrants arrived in Jamaica in the first half of the eighteenth century. And they took to cultivation. Many French immigrants went to West Indies especially Saint-Domingue. The Spanish Americans took to farming, ranching and mining of precious metals. The Americas exported hides, tallow and sugar. In the 1540s the Spanish discovered the silver mines at Potsoi (Bolivia) and Zacatecas (Mexico). There was a higher percentage of Spaniards in Central Mexico and Peru than in Columbia and Ecuador. The Cuiaba goldfields in the interior of Brazil was discovered in 1719. In the 1760s about 5000 Portuguese migrated to Brazil annually. They totalled about 400,000 by the end of the eighteenth century. In 1763-4 about 9000 French colonists were shipped to Cayenne in South America. Many of the European settlers were wage labourers, peasants and indentured servants. In Latin America the indigenous population was mostly rural and the Spaniards and the Portuguese were disproportionately present in the major towns. In North America also the size of the European towns went on increasing. Philadelphia was planned in
1680 and had a population of 2500 in 1685; 4000 in 1690; and 25000 in 1760.

16.3.3 The English and French Approaches to Migration

The rise of European population in British North America was greater than in New France because the British were willing to accept people of all religious backgrounds. By contrast, the French colonial policy was to establish Catholic colonies in North America. So, the Huguenots (French Protestants) went to British North America. An Act of Parliament in 1697 which allowed people to seek work outside their own parish if they carried a certificate made the poor mobile and encouraged their migration to America and West Indies as indentured labours. In the seventeenth century English migrants dominated emigration from the British Isles to the New World. But, in the eighteenth century there was extensive emigration from Scotland and Ireland. Lack of economic opportunities in Scotland and Ireland encouraged migration in North America.
Between 1643 and 1700, the population of Massachusetts increased from 16000 to
20 60000 and that of Connecticut from 5500 to 20000, and that of Virginia from 15000 to

60000. By the end of the seventeenth century, the population of New York increased to 20000. The total population of the English mainland colonies at the end of the seventeenth century was above 200,000 which was greater than the French colonies.

By 1666 there were only 3200 French in New France. During the 1660s and the
1670s the French government provided money to the settlers. Especially the immigration of the orphans was subsidized. Fur dominated exports from Quebec, a principal French colony. The French minister Colbert wanted to develop the St. Lawrence Valley as a source of food and industry which would complement the fishing off Newfoundland. Grain, fish and timber were exported from New France and Newfoundland to the West Indies. By the end of the seventeenth century, while the number of French inhabitants was about 10000, there were about 210000 Europeans in British North America. In
1740 while New France had only 56000 inhabitants of French origin, British North
America had about one million people of European background. Between 1608 and
1759, only 11370 French settled in New Canada. About 6-7 people per million left France annually for New France. New Amsterdam had become New York which was taken by the British in the second half of the seventeenth century in the aftermath of the Second Dutch War. Under the Plantation Act of 1745 it was possible for all except the Catholics to become eligible for naturalization after seven years in a British colony. After 1730 as readily cultivable land grew scarcer in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the colonists expanded along the Shenandoah Valley, James River and Roanoke Gap and then moved into the Carolinas. Between 1730 and 1775, the white population of North Carolina rose from 30000 to 255,000. The combined population of the blacks and the whites (but not the Red Indians) in Georgia was 23375 in 1770 and 33000 in

Among the early migrants there were more men than women. So, many Spaniards and Portuguese took Indian women as wives or concubines. Their offspring were known as mestizos and they settled mostly among the coastal regions. By the 1690s in certain areas such as the Chesapeake Bay, the percentage of American born inhabitants rose which meant a better balance of men and women. The product of European-indigenous American marriages helped the European settlers as translators and also played a major role in trade. Such intermarriages were very common in the frontier societies at Hudson Bay and in West Africa. In the eighteenth century tension broke out between the peninsulares (natives of Spain) and the criollos (creoles, American born descendants of Spanish settlers).

The Germans and the Dutch were minor players in the whole project of overseas expansion. After the Thirty Years War, many poor people from North Germany went to the New World. The Germans were concentrated in Pennsylvania. In North Carolina, Swiss and German immigrants established New Bern which became the capital of the colony in 1770. About 30% of the colony’s population were of German descent. But, immigration from Germany fell because they were more interested to settle in Russia.

The Russians unlike the West European maritime powers expanded the frontiers of Europe in East Asia by overland migration. As the Tsarist empire expanded into that Crimea and Siberia, most of the Russians were concentrated in the urban areas. During the reign of Peter the Great, the Russians started exploiting the mines. The Russian population in Siberia rose from 100,000 in 1701 to 700,000 in 1721. Mining and metallurgy developed first in the Urals and then in the Altay region creating concentrations of people that had to be fed and protected. The Aleuts of Aleutian Islands clashed with the Russians in mid-eighteenth century who were searching for fur. In 1766, the Russians using cannons destroyed indigenous resistance in the Fox Islands.
Migration and


Expansion of Europe



In the tropics most Europeans died or could not sustain self- replicating populations. But, in temperate America where few Europeans went they flourished demographically. A few Dutch agricultural settlers went to South Africa. Some Europeans also settled in the region around the Cape of Good Hope. But in general the Europeans failed to settle in Africa in considerable numbers. Tropical diseases like malaria and yellow fever checked the Portuguese migration in Africa. Yellow fever went with the European mariners from West Africa to West Indies. And in the eighteenth century, it caused devastating mortality among the European soldiers and settlers in these islands. In Jamaica, white death rates were higher than those of the slaves.

Disease brought by the Europeans devastated the indigenous population of the New World. In 1492 the population of the Americas was over 50 million. Even the Caribbean islands supported one million ‘natives’. But, indigenous population declined drastically under the Spanish rule due to a combination of enslavement, disease and demoralization of the Indians. The indigenous population of the West Indian islands—the Arawaks and the Caribs—were more or less extinct by mid-seventeenth century. Before 1519 the population of Central Mexico was 20 million. In the course of the sixteenth century the population declined by 90%. Malaria introduced by the Europeans in the Americas was one of the chief killers of the ‘native’ population. In Peru the Indian population declined by 40%. After 1704, influenza and smallpox caused rapid decline of the Maya people. During 1743-9, half of the indigenous population of the Amazon Valley fell victim to measles and smallpox.

Due to smallpox, the Indians continued to die in large number in North America. Simultaneously increasing migration from Europe enabled the British to increasingly outnumber the ‘natives’ along the seaboard of Atlantic. Smallpox wiped out half of the Cherokee in North America in the late 1730s. However, in South Carolina the Cherokee continued to outnumber the Europeans even in 1730.

The Europeans transformed the ecology of the New World which in turn accelerated the decline of the Indian population. The Indians of Mexico and Peru depended on the cultivation of maize, potatoes, beans, etc. They had few domesticated animals. By the
1490s, the Europeans introduced pigs, sheep, goats, cattle and horses from Europe to the Americas. British cattle were introduced into Virginia. They multiplied rapidly and the agricultural lands of the Indians were changed into grazing and pastoral land. Horses spread throughout North America through trade and theft. Gradually North American tribes like the Apache and the Commanche adopted the horses. The European traders along the St. Lawrence Valley also introduced horses. So forest and agricultural land were replaced by big ranches.

Instead of allowing the Indians to grow their vegetable crops, the Spanish introduced sugar plantations, cotton, tobacco and vineyards. The Europeans introduced timber and dyewood in Brazil which were exported. Citrus fruits brought from Spain were introduced in the New World in the early sixteenth century. The Spaniards brought banana in 1516 to West Indies from the Canary Islands. Actually the Portuguese had introduced banana in the Canary Islands from tropical Africa. Even now banana remains a major export item of the West Indies. For feeding the slaves yam was grown. Guinea yams entered West Indies from Africa. In the seventeenth century a superior form of yam came to Africa from India. From West Africa it was introduced to West Indies. Wheat was introduced in the sixteenth century in favoured highland areas of the American tropics like the Puebla Valley in Mexico. In the seventeenth century the English and the French settlers introduced wheat in temperate North America. Thanks to the intrusion of the Spaniards, the edible dogs of Mexico became extinct.

The aboriginal society in Australia was not a surplus producing economy. The aborigines were highly fragmented. From the linguistic point of view, they were divided into 700 tribes. In Australia smallpox, measles, influenza and tuberculosis as well as common cold mostly wiped out the aborigines. In 1791, the aborigines around Richmond died due to smallpox. In 1789 and in 1829 a wave of smallpox killed 6% of the Wiradjuri people along the Murrumbidgee River. During 1847-8, the influenza epidemic finished them off.

Warfare also reduced the indigenous population. Between 1725 and the 1780s, the Portuguese wiped out the Paiagua tribe along River Paraguay. In 1780-1, due to rigorous collection of taxes, the last descendant of the Inca ruler Tupac Amaru led an uprising. The rebellion was crushed and about 100,000 people died. The European victory over the Tuscaroras in the 1710s resulted in the decline of the latter’s numbers from 5000 to
2500. From 1715 onwards most of the Yamasee were killed and enslaved by the colonial militia. Between 1712 and 1738, the French repeatedly attacked the Fox tribe of Illinois-Mississippi region. The Fox numbering 10000 were reduced to a few hundred. John Sullivan’s pacification campaign against the Iroquois in 1779 resulted in widespread destruction of villages and 160,000 bushels of corn. The Colonial Militia and the mounted police in Australia were in charge of suppressing the aborigines. To give an instance, in
1860 at Queensland about 4000 aborigines were killed.


The expulsions of the Muslims from the Iberian peninsula due to conquests and the Africans Death left southern Portugal thinly populated. So, Portuguese overseas colonies required cheap labour. In the Canary Islands the indigenous people known as the Guanches were conquered and driven to extinction. Catastrophic mortality among the
‘native’ Americans following the arrival of the Europeans generated search for cheap
labour for working in the estates, plantations and mines. The Europeans imitated the cultivation and consumption of sugar from the Arabs. Columbus introduced sugar in West Indies in 1493. Very soon sugar plantations became common in Brazil. Slaves were required for the collection of cacao and other forest products in Amazon. Virginia and Maryland required slaves for working in the tobacco cultivation.

The resulting slave trade altered the demography by initiating a major movement of the Africans from Africa to South America, West Indies and the southern states of North America. Between 1680 and 1860, the loss of population due to slavery from West Africa was a little over 10%. Slaves were acquired from Africa either by raiding or through contacts with the African rulers. Prisoners in inter-tribal wars within Africa were enslaved. At times the African rulers engaged in wars which could be categorized as slave hunts. The slaves were sold to the European traders in return for guns, gunpowder and European clothes. And the African potentates used the guns for acquiring more slaves for selling to the Europeans. Thus a vicious ‘gun-slave’ cycle developed. Trade and slavery at different moments of history had been common in other regions also. To bridge over the unfavourable trade balance, Charlemagne’s Empire exported white women who became slaves in the households of the Muslims in the Arab Empire. And Akbar sold prisoners of war to Kabul for buying horses.

During the fifteenth century, African slaves were transported to Lisbon for sale. Founded in 1575, Luanda in Angola became the leading port through which slaves were shipped to Brazil. Congo was a vital source of slaves. Between 1450 and 1500 about 150,000
African slaves were taken to Europe and most of them went to Portugal. Then the slaves from Africa were transported to the islands of Madeira and Sao Tome. In 1515
African slaves for the first time were sent to the Americas. Spain sent the African slaves to Hispaniola in the Caribbean and started receiving slave grown American sugar. Direct
Migration and


Expansion of Europe large scale trans-Atlantic traffic in slaves started from 1532. The British transported more slaves than the French. Between 1691 and 1779, British ships transported
2,300,000 slaves from the African ports. The slave ships used to sail from London, Bristol and Liverpool. The British slave ships supplied slaves to the British possessions in North America and in the Caribbean colonies. The British also supplied slaves to the colonies of the other powers.

In the sixteenth century about 367,000 African slaves were sent to the Americas. Between
1700 and 1763, the number of slaves in British North America rose from 20000 to
300,000. In the eighteenth century, the French colonies obtained 1,015,000 slaves and in 1788 the French West Indies contained 594,000 slaves. During the 1780s, the French West Indies colonies received 30000 slaves annually. By 1580, there were 60 sugar mills in Brazil. And the population amounted to 20000 Portuguese, 18000 Indians and
14000 slaves. By 1600, there were about 100,000 African slaves in Eastern Brazil.
Angola supplied 2 million slaves in the eighteenth century mostly to Brazil. Most of the Africans transported as slaves in the eighteenth century went to Brazil and West Indies, and less than a fifth went to North America. The Portuguese moved slaves into the sugar plantations of Northeast Brazil and from 1710s into the gold and diamond fields of Mionas Gerais. In the late eighteenth century the slaves were used in the sugar and coffee plantations near Rio De Janeiro.

In most cases the number of black slaves exceeded the number of white colonists. Barbados had only a few hundred blacks in 1640. By 1645, there were over 6000 blacks and 40000 whites. In 1685, there were 46000 blacks and 20000 whites (bond or indentured servants and free). In 1687 Saint Domingue contained 4500 whites and
3500 blacks. Between 1766 and 1771 Saint Domingue received 14000 slaves annually.
And during 1785-9, the number of slaves received rose to 28000 annually. In 1789 there were only 28000 whites, but 30000 free blacks and 406,000 slaves. On Montserrat in the West Indies, 40% of the 4500 inhabitants in 1678 was black. The percentage of the blacks grew to 80% of the 7200 people in 1729. By 1700, the French islands had only 18000 whites but 44000 black slaves. In 1730 the African slaves outnumbered both the Cherokee and the Europeans in South Carolina. Between 1730 and 1775, the number of blacks in North Carolina rose from 6000 to 10000. Gradually American born slaves dominated in the Chesapeake. In 1763 at Louisiana there were 5000 blacks and 4000 whites.

The extensive scope of slavery in the New World becomes clear when compared with the extent of slavery in the ancient world. Athens in 400 BC had 60000 slaves who constituted about 30% of the city-state’s population. Roman Italy between 225 BC and 31 BC possessed between 600,000 to 2,000,000 slaves. And the total population of Roman Italy (including slaves) in that period was 10 million. About one million slaves worked in the latifundias (large estates of the senators) of Italy. In 1800, about 15% of the 800,000 population in Venezuela were slaves. Brazil between 1800 and 1850 had between 1,000,000 to 2,500,000 slaves. The slaves amounted to 33% of the population of the country. Slavery was rampant in the southern states of USA. Between 1820 and
1860 the number of slaves rose from 1,500,000 to 4,000,000 which represented about
33% of the populace. Finally Cuba between 1804 and 1861 possessed about 80000 to 400,000 slaves who amounted to about 28% to 30% of the total population.

Statistics does not give any glimpse of the picture at the micro level especially when emotions and sensibilities of the slaves were concerned. Individuals were taken away from their communities and families in Africa. Many died while being captured. In the port towns and in the ships while being transported across the Atlantic, they were crowded together in hazardous circumstances. About 10% of the slaves died while
being transported across the Atlantic. Hacking down sugarcane was a backbreaking
24 task. Slaves lived in deplorable conditions. They were less well fed, housed and clothed

than the white population. As a result, the slaves were more vulnerable to disease. Uncle Tom’s Cabin remains the best description of a black’s life in the New World. The slaves migrated to the towns where control over them was weaker. Some of the skilled slaves in the towns enjoyed a life style which was higher than the European peasants.

Some white settlers were also coerced by the state to migrate overseas. The British government was concerned due to the rising crime rate after the War of Spanish Succession (1702-13). This, writes Jeremy Black, resulted in the Transportation Act in
1718. This Act allowed for transportation not only as part of the pardoning process in
cases of capital offences but as a penalty for a wide range of non-capital crimes including theft of property. Between 1720 and 1763, the Parliament passed another 16 Acts that established transportation as a penalty for crimes of perjury and poaching. Between
1718 and 1785, about 50000 convicts were sent from Britain to America and West
Indies. Of these 50000 ‘undesirable’ persons, 30000 from England, 13000 from Ireland and 700 from Scotland were sent to America. The shipboard mortality was 14%. It is to be noted that this rate was higher than the rate of mortality of the slaves during trans- Atlantic voyages. Most of the convicts settled in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. After considering transportation to Africa, Australia was founded as a penal colony in
1788. Besides the criminals Parisian vagrants were seized in 1749 and were sent to
Cayenne. Many prostitutes were also sent away from France. In 1767 ‘reformed’
prostitutes were sent from Britain to aid in populating Florida.


History shows that maritime exploration was not an exclusive affair of the West Europeans. The European expansion was partly the result of militant Christianity, economic inducement and the rise of new military and naval technologies. The first wave of migrants from Europe consisted of people from Iberia. Due to mass migration of the Europeans in the Americas, population growth especially in the Iberian countries slowed down in the mid-eighteenth century. The second wave of migrants included people from North West Europe especially Britain. And finally the Africans as slaves constituted the third wave of migrants. To an extent, state sponsored migration of selected individuals was also a sort of social control. The aim was to sanitize home society by getting rid of the undesirable characters. It would be no exaggeration to argue that the Europeans intentionally engineered a holocaust in the New World. To sum up, the European expansion in the extra-European world was sustained due to the enslavement of the indigenous population. And when they died their place was taken over by the African slaves. Compared to the ‘natives’ of the western hemisphere, the indigenous population of the eastern hemisphere was demographically more numerous and possessed more stable state systems. So, they were able to offer stronger resistance to the Europeans. Moreover the hot climate of the tropics and extreme cold of Siberia did not suit large scale settlement of the West Europeans. Thus European settlement in the eastern hemisphere of the world was not as effective as migration and settlement of the white people in the New World.


1) What were the social, economic, climatic and cultural factors behind migrations during different phases of history? Describe briefly.

2) History of migration in the modern period has been mainly a European story.

3) In what ways have migrations to North and South America in modern period been different from each other? Discuss.
Migration and



Popular posts from this blog



13.0 Learning Outcome

13.1 Introduction

13.2 Initiatives towards Constitutional Status to Local Governance

13.2.1 Features of 73rd Constitutional Amendment

13.2.2 Features of 74th Constitutional Amendment

13.2.3 Decentralised Planning in Context of 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Act

13.3 Initiatives after Economic Reforms

13.4 Functioning of PRIs in Various States after 73rd Amendment

13.5 Functioning of Local Governance after 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment: Observations

13.6 Conclusion

13.7 Key Concepts

13.8 References and Further Reading

13.9 Activities


After studying this Unit you should be able to:

• Identify the background of revitalisation of local governance;

• Understand the features of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment;

• Discuss the initiatives after economic reforms; and

• Outlines the functioning of local governance in various states after the amendment.


The revitalization of Pancha…

General Studies :: Indian Polity #1

Constitutional evolution under British ruleRegulating Act 1773beginning of British parliamentary control over the East India Companysubordination of the presidencies of Bombay and Madras to BengalGovernor of Bengal made Governal-Generalcouncil of Governor-General establishedSupreme Court established in CalcuttaPitt’s India Act 1784commercial and political activities of the Company separatedestablished a board of control over the CompanyCharter Act 1813trade monopoly of the Company abolishedmissionaries allowed to preach in IndiaCharter Act 1833Governor-General of Bengal becomes Governor-General of Indiafirst Governor-General Lord William Bentickends commercial activities of the CompanyCharter Act 1853legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council separatedopen competition for Indian Civil Services establishedIndian Council Act 1861establishes legislative councils at the centre, presidencies and provincesGovernor-General’s executive council to have Indians as non…



1.0 Learning outcome

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Concept of Democratic Decentralisation

1.3 Evolution of Democratic Decentralisation

1.4 Significance of Democratic Decentralisation

1.5 Democratic Decentralisation in India

1.6 Conclusion

1.7 Key concepts

1.8 References and Further Reading

1.9 Activities


After studying this unit, you should be able to:

• Understand the concept of Democratic Decentralization;

• Know the evolution and significance of Democratic Decentralization; and

• Describe the Democratic Decentralization pattern in India.


The dawn of 21st century is marked by decentralized governance both as a strategy and philosophy of brining about reforms and changes in democracies. These changes led to such virtues of transparency, responsiveness and accountability and ensures good governance. Today decentralization and democracy are the most significant themes in the development discourse. In the present contex…