SAVY 2019: Session 4, Day 2 – Journey Through Time (Rising 3rd/4th)
Day Two in Journey through Time started with a return to ancient Cahokia and the decline of the mound building civilizations in North America. Students came up with various theories to explain this occurrence, with many focusing on the changed ecology of the “New” World after contact and the introduction of new species to the Americas, such as horses, pigs, and cows. We also discussed the many diseases that migrated over with the Europeans that Native Americans had never before been exposed to and had little to no immunity to as a result.
We then stepped back to examine the Columbian exchange more broadly. With healthy foodstuffs moving east (like tomatoes, potatoes, and corn) and deadly diseases moving west, the relative populations of the continents bordering the Atlantic moved in markedly different directions. Native American populations experienced dramatic declines while European populations were on the rise, setting the stage for an extended period of European colonization of the New World going forward.
Next, we shifted our attention to the internal politics of Europe and particularly the Protestant Reformation, which turned Spain and England against each other. We drew connections between the Spanish conquests of the New World and the military strength of Spain during the 16th century, which would culminate with Spain’s attempt to conquer England with the famed Spanish armada of 1588. We drew up a map of the surrounding area and using cheerios as ships recreated the naval battle between the armada and the English. England would score a surprising victory, but Spain would remain a threat nonetheless, ultimately forcing England to try their hand at colonizing the New World in the hopes of matching Spain’s wealth and military strength.
This is where we will start tomorrow, with England’s first efforts to establish colonies in North America.