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,... [continues]
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