Amundson 6th The Columbian Exchange

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The Columbian Exchange

Amundson 6th

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange is arguably one of the most interesting and important periods of the new world era. It benefited many countries and helped them prosper. The basic concept of the Columbian exchange was to connect the new world, Europe, and Africa through the means of trade. Though trade was the main intention, religion, beliefs, and slaves were also exchanged. With the Columbian exchange the items that were only in solely in one country, were able to spread across the pacific.

Before the Columbian Exchange

columbian exchange

Once Europeans first encountered the coast of the Americas, the Old World soon washed ashore many tropical and distinct types of merchandise to the New World. Before the triangular trade, many crops such as, barley, rice, turnips, and wheat from the Old World never stumbled upon the lands of the Americas. As well as, manioc, sweet potatoes, and maize had not journeyed from the Americas to Europe. Many domesticated animals from the Old World for example; cattle, goats, sheep, and horses were not present in the New World. Before the exchange, the native population never became infected with germs that would disseminate millions. These viruses carried by humans and animals include; chickenpox, yellow fever, smallpox, influenza, and measles. This would later lethally impact the population of humans living in the New World.

The Exchange of Food and Animals


The Europeans who found land on the coast of the Americas refined and nurtured crops like rice, apples, and white that was carried with them from their homelands. Many animals were transported from the New World to the Old and vice versa. Around the beginning of the 1600s cattle and horses were imported into North America, changing life for people in the Western Hemisphere. The Columbian Exchange of crops and animals resulted in a collision of the Old and New world. The trades of Amerindian crops like white potato toward Ireland and maize to China stirred population incline in the Eastern hemisphere. As with the New world, the population growth was parallel to that of the Old.

The Exchange of Diseases

small pox.jpg

When the Europeans came in contact with the Native population of the New World; they brought lethal diseases that destroyed millions of innocent lives. The indigenous people struggled to resist the Europeans but failed. They grieved from many factors from having their lands destroyed for farming and harsh treatment from the whites, but the most gruesome and deadly factor was germs. Virus and bacteria killers such as measles, smallpox, whooping cough, bubonic plague, malaria, typhus and chicken pox struck and because the Natives weren’t immune to it, their population diminished rapidly.

The Exchange of Slaves


As time went by, colonists in America needed to replace the Native American work force. The goods that were manufactured by them aided the European nations. The increase of larger plantations and new crops caused the demand for labor force to increase. This continuous desire for supply and demand would soon spark the Columbian exchange and change lifestyles in Africa, the Americas, and Europe forever. The journey from Africa to the Americas is called the Middle Passage. Captive slaves were dragged in chains to board commercial ships. Under harsh conditions, millions of African children, women, and men died before they could see America’s land. Death was caused by starvation, disease, unsanitary conditions or severe ocean weather. Those who endured the voyage were delivered and forced to work on plantations. In return, the slave traders used their profit to purchase manufactured goods, crops, and other valuable products to precede their journey back to Europe.

The Three Legs of the Triangle

The “classic” trade triangle included these three voyages:

Europe to Africa:

During the first passage Ships sailed to Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, and throughout additional European countries to Africa’s west borders carrying industrial goods in exchange for slaves.

Africa to the Americas:

This was known as the Middle Passage. The voyage from Africa through the Atlantic Ocean and to the Americas exchanged slaves for various materials like gold.

The Americas to Europe:

This was last and final voyage of the continuous cycle. Materials, manufactured goods, and leftover slaves were transported back to Europe.

The Continuities and Changes of the Great Columbian Exchange

In 1492, Christopher Columbus found the New World. His discovery brought times of global connections between the old and new world. As trade grew and the world shrank, the Columbian Exchange would soon bring together continuities and changes. The impact of the Columbian Exchange of Western Europe and the Americans before and after 1492 affected the stability of increasing trade, and production, population incline and decline, and expansion, with this, lifestyles, slavery, economic way of life and goods changed.

Before 1492, the Americas had not been in contact with the Old World. Gradually, Western Europe started to increase in territorial expansion due to the enhancement of technology improvement, weapon mastery, and rank of power. As their worldly, status began to change; more authority was put into place. Rapid increase of explorations brought and increase in expansion. This was due to improvements of technology and building structure of boats. Both the New and Old world were impacted by the triangular trade.

The Columbian Exchange is the international trade of ideas, people, plants, animals, and diseases during and after 1492. Americas imported different types of goods such as, squash, beans, and domesticated animals, leading to rapid increase of Western European population. Increasing sugarcane developments and introduction to horse and cattle changed Native American lifestyles. The exchange of diseases such as small pox, measles, influenza, yellow fever and chickenpox led to rapid decline of the millions of Native American’s tribe and population.

Overall, the effects of population changes such as declines and inclines were rapid. Trade throughout the Triangular Trade flourished. Americas relation with the Old World before the Columbian Exchange was discrete due to both nations no contact with one another. The influence of the exchange after 1492 was grave due the major trade growth globally. The Columbian Exchange impacted societies, people, and the world as a whole. It brought together global communities and made the big world a smaller place.

The Columbian Exchange Overall

All in all, the Columbian exchange was a positive era in history, though this was the highlight of the slave trade, the countries involved were benefited in different ways. The introduction of corn and potatoes to Europe improved Europe's economy. The introduction of cattle and horses to the New World improved their means of transportation. The money and goods being given to Africa improved their countries as well. It did bring many conflicts, such as the slave trade and currency problems. In the end the Columbian exchange was a needed event in order for the world to be as it is today.


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