Impact of the Colombian Exchange

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Thesis: The Colombian exchange negatively impacted the lives of the Native Americans since it aided infections of many diseases as well as viruses such as smallpox, measles, influenza, among others in which the North American tribes didn’t have any natural cure. Sailors who came in contact with the Native Americans infected them with diseases and died, infecting their relatives and neighbors who continued spreading the diseases.

Due to the cultural advancements of the Americans that enabled them to succeed anywhere that they wen, the conquistadors decided to invade them.

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Besides, the diseases that they carried with them played a significant role in their success since the resistances of the diseases that they carried with them weakened the longer they moved (Nunn & Nancy, 2010). The European conquistadors and sailors were attached by chickenpox together with other dangerous diseases (Crosby, 2003). They did not know that the diseases would affect them together with the Native Americans drastically.

One of the conquistadores and explorer Francisco Coronado together with the Spaniards in the modern New Mexico who lead out the Rio Grande Valley explore in the year 1540 chieftains were furious and therefore complained of the diseases (Behbehani, 1983). The diseases were brought by Spaniards and widely affected all the tribes. Besides, another New world Spanish explorer by the name Cabeza de Vaca also reported that in the year 1528, the time when the Spanish arrived in Texas, a great number of their natives perished from several diseases and blamed them over the same.

Some of the diseases which spread to the new world from the new world included smallpox, whooping cough, malaria, chickenpox, typhus, bubonic plague, and measles (Denevan, 1976, pg. 5). For instance, the population in the Spanish claimed lands dropped from 50 to 4 million showings that diseases were the major factor. North America could also be another example in which 90% of the Native Americans within 100 years of Plymouth landing were gone. Animals and insects which spread the diseases such as smallpox, as well as measles, supported the Old World belief that only those who deserved to get sick of the diseases such as the “savage” Indians would do so. For example, a disease such as syphilis was a sexually transmitted disease that came from the Spanish soldiers in the New World. The first people to contract this disease were French sailors as they were the first people to indulge in intimate relationships with the New world’s women which then spread to Europe as soon as they arrived. Many Native Americans died from the New World diseases compared to the Europeans.

According to Dobyns (1983, pg. 34), the Native Americans lived in an environment that was free from diseases before the invasion of New World peoples by the pathogens. By this time, the Europeans had not yet initiated the viruses and germs of the Colombian exchanges. At the time when the Spanish conquistadors set their foot in the Incan empire, many people had died from the epidemics of Smallpox. The Incans had nothing to do since they didn’t have any knowledge of how they could cure the diseases. Nevertheless, the epidemics were also reported to have broken again in 1529, whereby many people died including the empire Huayna Capac. Empire Huayna Capac was the father to Atahualpa, the man who was the Inca Empire’s last sovereign emperor. There were more outbreak and epidemics of smallpox in the years, 1533, 1535, 1558, and 1565. There was also an outbreak of other diseases such as typhus in 1546, measles in 1618, diphtheria in 1614 as well as influenza in the year 1558. According to the reports, a significant amount of people from the Inca Empire, more than 90%, died from the diseases mentioned earlier.

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Impact of The Colombian Exchange. (2020, Aug 27). Retrieved from