The Columbian Exchange
For thousands of years, the people of the continents of North American and Europe had lead separate lives. Both peoples had developed at different paces and for the most part did not have connection with each other. However, in 1492, Christopher Columbus started his voyage over to find Asia, and happened to find the Caribbean. This was the beginning of what is known today as the Columbian Exchange. This was a period of trade between the “new world”, and the “old world”. However, when these two worlds collided, there were many results. The main effects of the Columbian Exchange was the trade of agriculture, technologies, and diseases.
Some of the main items that were traded during the Columbian Exchange were the some of the things that modern day territories are known for. Plants such as Oranges were not introduced into Florida were not brought until this period (Nunn). Bananas, which are popular in Equator, were also not native to the New world. On the other side, the Old World received some plants as well. A plant such as cacao is not native to countries like Switzerland, however, the Columbian exchange brought the cacao bean to Switzerland, which has been transformed into an empire of Swiss chocolate. A plant that is heavily used in French baking but was not native France is the vanilla bean. This was introduced to France through this exchange and was the beginning of a long history of using the vanilla bean in baking(Nunn). These were some of the now important exports of certain territories and have reaped its reward
Another major trade that offered during the Columbian Exchange was the trade of different technologies. Some of these technologies are things that we think as normal, but the alphabet was a major innovation in the New World. The European explores needed a way to sign treaties and make different trade documentations. The Europeans gave some of the different Native tribes their own alphabet. This gave the Natives the ability to start to have a recorded history. Other major technologies were given to the natives through areas such as farming and weapons. Items such as a horse pulled plow were given to the natives by the Europeans because of the good soil that was in the Old World(technology). This was an extremely helpful advancement for these people because many native communities were farming communities, so getting advancements in the farming process could greatly increase the people’s crop output and help the native society grow. Another very helpful technology that would help the Native’s ability to get food was the gifting of weapons to the Natives. The Europeans gave the Natives weapons such as knives that were made for fishing, and guns. Guns were an extreme advancement for the Natives, because up until before the natives came they had no way eo very quickly kill their food. Killing food quickly was another necessary thing because, aside from the agricultural native communities, there were still some nomadic communities who had to follow their food. One of the bad side effects of these nomadic people getting guns is that they had weapons that they could use in warfare to kill their fellow man. Another negative side effect of this gun exchange is that the Natives had the ability to now overhunt the animal like the buffalo which they almost drove to extinction.
Sadly, one of the main and gruesome effects of the Columbian exchange was disease for both people. The Natives had never experienced the New world bacterium/viruses, so their bodies had little to no defense to diseases that the Europeans had such as, smallpox, measles, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, and chicken pox(Technology). The Natives getting some of these diseases was very deadly for these populations. The disease spread through the communities like wildfire, and killed so many of the Natives. The diseases for people in Europe were not as drastic as they were for the Natives, however they were bad. The Europeans were first exposed to diseases such as, syphilis, polio, and hepatitis. Obviously, those three diseases are extremely harmful to humans, but since the Europeans had more advanced medicine they had a better protection to the diseases.
In conclusion the Columbian exchange had many benefits and harms. The benefits included increased agricultyre and farming. The harms included more violent warfare, diseases, and overhunting. The total overhead of harms should prove that the Columbian exchange was only slightly beneficial toi the Europeans and not the Natives.