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The Columbian Exchange and Transatlantic Slave Trade

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The Columbian Exchange and Transatlantic Slave Trade

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Europe's maritime dominance and the opening of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans had major consequences in world history. Including creating a new international pool for the basic exchange of foods, diseases, and a few manufactured products. While this exchange had its high points such as introduction of new crops and new animals to the Americas and other countries it also brought widespread demographic destruction. At the same time Native Americans who had never been brought into contact with the diseases that the Europeans carried many died. In 1972, the historian Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., proposed that Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World produced even greater consequences biologically than they did culturally. The Columbian Exchange is the term Crosby coined to describe the worldwide redistribution of plants, animals, and diseases that resulted from the initial contacts between Europeans and American Indians. This process had a profound impact on both societies. Columbus brought the first horses and pigs to the Americas; both animals became integrated into many Indian societies. Likewise, the new plant and animal species that Columbus and other explorers encountered in North America such as tobacco, corn, and turkeys presented a challenge to traditional Christian conceptions of the world and opened new opportunities for European farmers and businesspeople. The impact of wider exchange became visible quickly. Chief positive contributions to the Americas resulted as part of this Columbian Exchange such as the introduction of new crops and animals. On the other hand perhaps the most powerful currency of the Columbian Exchange, however, was epidemic disease and how the extension of international contacts spread disease. The complete list of infectious diseases that were present in the Eastern Hemisphere but not in the Americas at the time may never be known. Still most scholars agree that the list should include: smallpox, bubonic plague, measles, whooping...

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