Didja Know #1 (Brought To You By Charles C. Mann)

I have a habit of reading non-fiction books that force me to say the ever-annoying phrase "Didja know   . . ." followed by some inane fact that no one but myself cares about-- sorry-- and I'm halfway through another book like this-- 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann-- and (lucky for you) I read his earlier book 1491: New Revelation of the Americas Before Columbus before I began writing this blog, so you won't have to learn the truth about the civilizations that were here when the Europeans arrived, but, since I am on vacation, I will provide you with some interesting ideas from 1493 over the next few days, some of which I knew before I read the book, and some of which you might know as well . . . so here we go: didja know that the most potent form of malaria was imported from the swamps of Southern England to America, and was a major cause of why slavery took root in the South . . . because while indentured servants were cheaper than buying a slave, they kept dying of malaria, while the African Americans, due to sickle cell and Duffy antigen mutations, were more resistant to the plasmodium parasite and so-- though no one knew about the parasite itself-- plantations that used slaves fared better than plantations that used indentured servants and this advantage propelled them to success and gave slavery a strong hold below the malarial Mason-Dixon line (malaria also helped the nascent United States, Cornwallis's army was mainly composed of "unseasoned" Scots and he camped near a swamp before his fateful surrender to malarial resistant Southern troops at Yorktown).

1 comment:

zman said...

I knew some of that, actually.

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