Columbian Exchange

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The term Columbian Exchange refers to the large-scale exchange of animals, plants, goods, diseases and people between the Old and New Worlds. This event is one of the more significant events of all-time as it marks the beginning of the modern era of history. Not only were Native Americans greatly impacted by the Columbian Exchange as it brought them devastation and catastrophe, but the Europeans were also affected as they benefited from the precious metals and agriculture they received. This exchange helps to explain why Europe was able to rise, prosper and go on to become a super power. The devastation of the Natives led to a great demand for labor which was met with the enslavement of approximately 12 million Africans over a 400 year period. While Africans were being sold as slaves and the Native Americans were being decimated by diseases introduced to them from the Old World, European nations took advantage of the depopulation and weakening of various cultures and more than likely had an easier time conquering this New World because of the diseases they spread. The exchange of foods and spices to Europe introduced foods like potatoes, tomatoes, and maize which became staples in European diet. These foods helped improve nourishment and vitamin intake and in turn led to an overall higher level of health amongst European people. “..This happened in no place that we could learn, but where we had been”(Thomas Hariot, 1589). The transfer of disease from the Old World significantly affected the Native Americans of the New World. For one, Native Americans began to become so desperate for a remedy that they began to convert from their cultural beliefs to Christianity as they believed that would bring an end to the disease as is evident in this quote; “…Some of the [Indian] Counselors were of the opinion, that by embracing Christianity the contagion would cease...”. (2) Conversions to Christianity of course did little to curve the debilitating effects of...
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