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Primary Source by Primary Source? On the Role of Epidemics in New World Depopulation

David Henige
Ethnohistory
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Summer, 1986), pp. 293-312
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/481816
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/481816
Page Count: 20
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Primary Source by Primary Source? On the Role of Epidemics in New World Depopulation
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Abstract

The more sweeping an argument, the more necessary that it be grounded firmly and incontrovertibly in a body of evidence. Henry Dobyns has recently asserted that there were some 700,000 Timucuan Indians in Florida ca. 1500. In doing so he marshals data from a number of sources to persuade readers that the sharp decline in numbers he postulates is to be attributed to numerous epidemics. In this paper I argue that Dobyns has been derelict in his use of sources and thereby forfeits the right to have his arguments accepted.

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