Re: New world populations

Lee Sultzman (
Mon, 19 Dec 1994 09:39:56 GMT

>anyway. I replied that there had been as many as one hundred million
> native
> >peoples in the New World in 1492 and that millions *had* been slaughtered
> in
> >50 years or so.
Population estimates of the total native population of the Western Hemisphere in 1492 range from ten million in the low range upwards to 150 million on the high side. With that much of a range one has to suspect that the figure arrived at usually depends on what the writer is trying to prove. Best estimates of recent origin seem to point to something in the 60 to 90 million range, or rough equivalent to the population of Europe during the same period.

One thing on the first fifty years of the Spanish conquest. The Spanish were brutal, but it is very unlikely that they "slaughtered 95% of the original population in 50 years. Think about it! By 1542 they had conquored much, but not all of Mexico, Peru, and the West Indies and only briefly penetrated into the southernmost parts of the United States. In other words they had only gained control of a very small portion (less than 10%) of the hemisphere. If they would have managed to kill every living person t

hey came across, which they didn't, they could not possibly have slaughtered more than 20%...not 95%. There seems to be some exageration going here for the sake of argument.

The big killers were the European diseases that they inadvertantly brought with them which quickly spread into areas that the Spanish never reached. In the southeastern United States, these are believed to have been responsible for the deaths of three quarters of the original population by 1600.