Sahil Amin History 8/1/2007

Positive and Negative Effects of the Columbium Exchange

When Columbus came to what he thought was the Indies, he created a completely different perspective for the world for the Europeans. Most adventures saw this as an opportunity to find a new piece of land and claim it as their own. Kings and Queens saw it as a place to expand their kingdom onto, while many traders dreamed of new plants, spices, and animal furs to lay their hands upon. All of this excitement and rush to conquer the New World created what is now known as the Columbian Exchange, or the exchange of different cultures, foodstuffs, and other goods between both the Old and New World. Although it caused the great world we now live in, not everything was good. Negative Effects:

Slavery – One of the worst effects of the Columbian Exchange was slavery. In the New World there were no real slaves. The poor, lower class men and women did all the dirty work while middle class and lower class children were forced to work in the tight, hard to reach, and dangerous spots. In southern areas of soon-to-be America the Spanish were using Native Americans as their slaves, along with other peoples they would conquer. It wasn’t until a Dutch warship landed in Jamestown that the English thought of using Africans as slaves. Infectious Diseases - The indigenous peoples of the New World did not have many infectious diseases before the Europeans came. At the time there were only about four main diseases, yellow fever probably being the worst of them. When the Europeans came they accidentally and purposely spread diseases unto the Native Americans in hopes of killing them off. Unfortunately, in many areas of both Americas and Caribbean it worked. Un-wanted Organisms – Today in Australia there is a major rabbit crisis. When the British took them over there, they didn’t realize that in Australia, rabbits had not natural predators and soon the rabbit population grew out of control. Similar things began to occur throughout North and South America when the Europeans brought in animals such as rats. In certain areas, crops would completely die out while in other areas birds such as hawks and falcons would have so many rats to eat that they would over- populate. The Destruction of Major Civilizations – Spanish Conquistadors showed no mercy when they went after the Aztecs and Incas, and other Europeans continued the same process as they marched across North and South America. After literally bringing plagues of diseases that would wipe out many of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the Europeans would burn down villages, rape the women, and pillage all they could. Then to show anybody who survived how much of a greater superior they were, the priests would order massive churches to be built on the remains of the old holy grounds.

Positive Effects

New Fruits and Veggies – When many of the Europeans like Columbus came during the early stages of the New World discovery they thought they would be in India; buying spices. Naturally, then, they all brought items custom found only in Europe to trade with. These new foods were spread throughout North and South America and began to work their way into being an almost necessity for people. Without the Europeans, we wouldn’t have wheat for bread, hemp, coffee, black peppers, and much more. The

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Sahil Amin History 8/1/2007 Europeans also managed to re-invent and modernize the way of farming with all these new foods that they had brought in mix with the traditional foods of the Americas.

New Domesticated Animals – The Europeans had far more domesticated animals than the people of the Americas. With these they showed new ways of working with and by using the animals and also new ways to herd the animals. The Europeans had also brought the animals as food, and this created a whole new line of cuisine ideas from both European and Native American ways. One the thing the Europeans did not bring the animals for was the re-birth of a species, but that is what happened. The European domesticated horses brought back the North American horses that were slowly dwindling down to near extinction. Without them, America would have probably never seen horses on her own soil after the 1600s. Turning the New World into a New Home – Europe was over crowded, over populated, and full of religious intolerance before the New World. When adventurers found the new place to live and settle, hundreds upon thousands of people wanted to move in there. They wanted to get away from forced religion and live on the streets. Many of them just wanted a fresh start, and Columbus along with many other people provided them with a passage way and a new piece of land to feast upon. Of course, not all of Europe thought of it that way, and many people were sent by churches on means of converting people or killing them in the name of Christ.

So now all in all, what can we say today? Were the destruction of the American civilizations a good or a bad thing? Without it, we wouldn’t be were we are today. The U.S. way of life may never exist, there might have never been a space program, and all this new technology could’ve never been invented. Yet the Aztecs and Incas managed to create an entire empire without the concept of the wheel. Maybe they knew of something far superior or better than it. The Columbian Exchange is filled with guilt and sorrow mixed within a feeling of triumph and superiority within each other. The world is what it is today, without Columbus it could be better, but it could be worse. The world may never know.

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