March 10, 2015
Dr. Brian McGowan
History 102: Midterm
What was the Columbian Exchange?
According to the Gettysburg website, the Columbian Exchange was the interchange of crops, animals, diseases, technology, plants, architecture, and ideas that were formed between America (New World) and the European countries (Old World) after Christopher Columbus’s expedition to America way back in 1492. Because of Christopher Columbus’s expedition to the new world, the old world received crops from they've never had like sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, cacao, peanuts, cassava and pineapples were introduced to the old world countries like Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean countries. The exchange between the two worlds acquired both some wins and also some losses. Because of the contact they had with each other, diseases were able to transfer between the two worlds which caused a lot of people to take ill and die. Some of the diseases that were spread to the new world from the old world were bubonic plague, smallpox, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough typhus, and also malaria.
But the new world was far from perfect. The new world managed to transfer syphilis back to the old world and back then they didn’t have a cure causing the disease to be very fatal and more severe than it is now. Now we can just go to the doctor, get a penicillin shot, and were done. They experienced genital ulcers, large tumors, rashes, dementia, severe pain and eventually death. Over time, the disease evolved and its symptoms changed, causing it to become less fatal and it eventually made its way to Russia and Africa. There was also an abundance of new plants discovered in the new world. For example; beans, squash, chili peppers, sunflowers, chenopods, manioc, and avocado.
Back then the two most important plants were the potato and maize. In addition to discovering New World plants, the Old World plants were brought to America and became successful. Among those plants, the most widespread was the sugarcane. Sugarcane is an essential form of sucrose and is used in the diet of almost every culture there is. The sugarcane dated back to about 10,000 years ago when it originated from New Guinea. Christopher Columbus introduced the sugarcane during his second voyage to the new world.
After he introduced it the production picked up in the New World because it was under the plantation system. They learned about plantations because they developed in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and eventually the southeastern colonies of North America began planting sugarcane as well. The Columbian Exchange also ended up influencing technology advances in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Europe had more technological power compared to those of the Native Americans. When Europeans crossed the Atlantic they sparked a flow of changes in Native American culture. Some of those changes being the written alphabet, firearm, and weapon capabilities.
The Native Americans didn’t have a formal written language so the Europeans knew it would be hard to get a treaty. The Europeans decided to educate the Natives by teaching them to read and write hoping that would help break down the barriers hoping to integrate cultures. The natives were skeptical about the written language because blood oaths were their highest form of agreement. The Europeans didn’t want to teach them language just for the purpose of trade, but the Europeans wanted to educate the natives by trying to convert them to Christianity. They felt if they had a common religious belief amongst them, it would bond them closer than any written code. The Europeans believed that by teaching them about religion they were educating and changing the natives for the better. The Europeans held Christianity to the highest standard in social importance, and considered conversion an evolution of life.
When it came to weaponry, guns and knives were used for hunting and fishing for the Native Americans. The