Author Archives: Jake Cohen

11/20 Question

What evidence was there to suggest there was a population concern in Haiti?

For starters in 1779 there were 7,055 people of color in Saint-Domingue. A mere eight years later there were almost 20,000. This means that in less than a decade the population of POC had more than doubled. An astonishing rate of growth. Compare that to France’s population that barely grew by one-ninth over a 72 year period. There was little indication that this population would slow down due to unrestrained lechery of so many white people in the area. Coupled with rising tensions amongst slaves and freed blacks there was an obvious concern within French minds that an uprising was very much possible. It is rather ironic that the population that the French tried to keep down grew in such great numbers due to their own sexual actions.

Class Notes 9-30

-Today we looked at the question of how natural history texts can be looked at as colonial knowledge. First we talked about the Columbian exchange and how it was consequentially harsher on the new world than the old world. Most of our discussion on this matter revolved around the depictions of animals and plants from Historia Naturae. Both allowed us to look at tangible physical things as a way of colonial impact and understanding among Europeans.

-Historia Naturae was the first European attempt to systematically describe and classify new world plants and animals. Some descriptions and classifications of animals are hysterically false. Other facts about these animals are relatively accurate. Showcases a thirst for knowledge among Europeans for things in the new world. Huge sense of exoticism in this publication. Produced in a collaborative effort with natives. Which proves that European science wasn’t totally accurate as they relied on native input to create this publication. Overall Historia Naturae is a good source to look at how colonialism depicted new things they were unfamiliar with and how Europeans put these things into terms they could comprehend.

-Columbian Exchange: Artificial re-establishment of connections through the mingling of old and new world plants, animals, and bacteria.


Above is a video about Historia Naturae and two articles about Columbian Exchange

Examination Questions

-How did Columbian Exchange negatively impact the new world more so than the old world?

-What ways can you see European influences in Historia Naturae?

-(Relating to the book presentation from today) What does Alchon claim as other causes for the deaths of so many indigenous people in the new world?


Diving deeper into the topic of the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, I want to specifically look at indigenous population help. Whether this be through Dona Marina or other tribes helping to overthrow the Aztecs. I want to grasp a better understanding at why natives would help Europeans overthrow the Aztecs, and to what extent did their aid help the Spanish. How did the Spanish get some to cooperate with them and others to not? All things I look forward at continuing to research.

Primary Source- Documents from Victors and Vanquished

Secondary Sources- Brinkerhoff, Thomas J. “Reexamining the Lore of the “Archetypal Conquistador”: Hernán Cortés and the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire, 1519-1521.” The History Teacher 49, no. 2 (2016): 169-87.

Daniel, Douglas A. “Tactical Factors in the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs.” Anthropological Quarterly 65, no. 4 (1992): 187-94.

“Doña Marina.” In Survivors in Mexico, edited by Schweizer Bernard, by West Rebecca, 116-28. New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2003.

Bassett, Molly H. “Meeting the Gods.” In The Fate of Earthly Things: Aztec Gods and God-Bodies, 26-44. University of Texas Press, 2015.

Martin, Scott. “Command Decisions: The Conquest of Mexico and the Friedman-Savage Utility Function.” Social Science History 34, no. 4 (2010): 499-522.

*Exact specificity of research question subject to change the more I dive into sources on the matter.

Research Blog Post

My research question I want to dive deeper into revolves around the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Military history has always been the sub-section of history I’ve been most fascinated with. So my potential question is how could a far smaller Spanish army overthrow the most powerful empire in Mesoamerica? I could throw in something along the lines like could the Spanish have defeated the Aztecs without the aid of other native tribes that were rivals with the Aztecs?

What I’d like to learn this semester

During this semester there are some specific topics I’d like to learn. One of the main ones that interests me is the military conquest of the Europeans and how the natives fought back. Perhaps we’d learn more about particular battles that took place. Clearly the Europeans were at a technological advantage with their firearms, but I’d be interested in knowing how the natives fought back and tried to level the playing field I think that would be very intriguing.

Another main topic I’d like to focus on this semester is religion amongst the natives. Obviously we’ve all seen the glorified human sacrifices on television. I’d like to dive into how accurate and prevalent things such as human sacrifice were amongst natives. Also stuff such as the jaguar being glorified interests me. Was the jaguar and other animals particularly important to native culture or has Hollywood just put more emphasis on these things than actually existed.