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Gke1 Task 1

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Task 1-A:
The two most significant environmental or physical geographic factors that contributed to the development or expansion of the United States is the California Gold Rush and the Irish Potato Famine. The first most significant factor was the California Gold Rush. Before gold was officially discovered in Northern California on January 24, 1848, Kelly (n.d.) states that the entire population of the California territory was around 25,000. A few years after California was admitted as the 31st state in The Union in 1850, a special census was taken and the population had grown to 223,856. Kelly (n.d.) also states that in San Francisco alone, the population was approximately 800 in 1848 to well over 50,000 at the close of 1849.
Before the rush, California was a vast wild wilderness that most Americans never dreamed of visiting. There were tales of savage people and even more savage wilderness and it was widely known that lawlessness and general uncivility reigned supreme throughout the new Western Territories. These tales enthralled the general public but deterred most from doing anything but follow the stories through newspaper articles and books. But with the discovery of a gold nugget at a sawmill owned by John Sutter, all of this changed. Newspapers reported the great discovery and when U.S. President James Polk confirmed the rumors in his annual congressional address in December of 1848, the California Gold Rush was on!
This rush came a time in history when people of the United States were daring to dream of a nation that provided for its people through hard work and risk and at a time when oceanic transportation had advanced to a state that allowed people from all over the globe to much more easily reach the remote territories. Prospectors from the United States made the arduous journey either over the land or by sea, but it is estimated that ¼ of the prospectors came from varying foreign nations. And while few actually realized their dream of becoming lavishly rich, the influx of people and the business that arose to support these ventures transformed the West. By the end of the 1850’s, wagon trails dotted the lands over the Sierra Nevada and the San Francisco Bay had become a major port for imports from the Pacific Rim.
The second most influential factor in the expansion of the United States, was the Irish Potato Famine that occurred in the latter part of the 1840’s and early 1850’s. This famine occurred in a country where the people relied almost exclusively on the potato for sustenance. In fact, many in this agriculturally based, impoverished land even used potato and other crops to barter for goods. Smith, (2011), states that while Ireland was a rich agricultural exporter, most of the crops were controlled by merchants who exported almost everything that was grown, rather than feed the struggling people. So when a fungal blight that destroyed both the growing potatoes and the plants from which they came, infected most of Ireland’s crop in 1845, the stage was set for mass deaths and immigration to other countries to find a better life.
At the start of the blight infection in 1846, Ireland was ruled with an iron fist by the country of England. The English viewed the Irish as subservient, unruly people who were being judged by god for their way of life. This meant that few were interested in helping to feed the starving people. Smith (2011) reports that at the end of the winter of 1846, newspapers were reporting up to 400,000 deaths, either directly as a result of starvation or indirectly from exposure, exhaustion or contagious diseases that resulted from lack of food.
The blight finally ended in Ireland by 1851. At that time, more the 1million Irish has died from starvation and an additional million immigrants fled Ireland for the United States. And though they faced extreme prejudice and poverty, for the next 50 years, 4 million Irish left the country and headed mostly for North America.(Smith, 2011). It is estimated in the 1840’s the Irish compromised almost half of all immigrants in the U.S. (Library of Congress n.d.) Their mark on the cities they settled in were indelible and since they were willing to take jobs most Americans were unwilling to take, they were instrumental in the building of the transcontinental railroad and other vital American infrastructural projects.
Task 1-B:
The most significant physical geographical factor that contributed to the development of the Ancient South American society of the Incas was the Andes Mountains. The Andes are the longest mountain range and one of the highest with its tallest peak, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, topping out at 22,841 feet (Zimmermann, 2013). The Inca Empire had settlements that ranged from sea level, to its center of government in Cusco at an altitude of 11,200. Despite these difficulties, the Inca people thrived, and managed to create trails, water-ways and agricultural practices that remain in use to this day. Virtually every aspect of life was affected by the Andes Mountain Range. The steep slopes, climate and altitude, forced the development of resilient breeds of crops such as potatoes, quinoa and corn. (Graber, 2011). The mountains were worshipped as gods and stone from the mountains were carved with great precision to create large cites and temples right into the sides of the mountains. For all of the reasons, The Andes Mountains are certainly one of the greatest contributors to the development of the ancient people of South American.

Task 1-B1: Probably the most obvious choice for cultural diffusion is the Spanish Conquistador’s forced diffusion on the Inca people. In 1533, Spanish invader, Francisco Pizarro, seized the ruling Inca city of Cusco. The Spanish quickly either killed or enslaved the Inca people and set about converting them to Christianity. Massive Inca cites and temples were dismantled and converted into cathedrals and other buildings. Inca works of art were destroyed, many of the native foods were forgotten and even the language of the people, Quechua, was forbidden. The Incas were forced to give up their way of life or be killed. Though this is a truly horrifying example of cultural diffusion, it is likely one of the most complete and quickly accomplished examples throughout history. ` Reference Page
Graber, C. (2011, 09). Farming Like the Incas.Smithsonian.com. Retrieved 07, 2013, from www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Farming-Like-the-Incas.html

Irish-Catholic Immigration to America(n.d.). Library of Congress. Retrieved 07, 2013, from www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/immigration/irish2.html

Kelly, M. (n.d.). Going to California - 49ers and the Gold Rush. About.com - American History. Retrieved 07, 2013, from http://americanhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa090901a.htm

Smith, A. (2011). Potato: A Global History ( pp. 38-51). London, GBR: Reaktion Books.

Spanish Conquest of Peru - 1526-1546.(n.d.) Heritage History. Retrieved 07, 2013, from 9www.heritage-history.com/www/heritage.php?Dir=wars&FileName=wars_incas.php

Stewart L. U. (2003). The Forgotten Founders - Rethinking the History of the Old West (ed., Vol., pp. 123-144). Covelo, CA: Island Press/Shearwater Books.

Zimmermann, K. A. (2013, 03). Andes: World's Longest Mountain Range. LiveScience. Retrieved 07, 2013, from www.livescience.com/27897-andes-mountains.html

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