The Columbian Exchange

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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The discovery of the western world by Europeans had produced many great benefits for those explorers; however, it also affected the people in the new world in a terrible way. Christopher Columbus decided to travel to the Americas in 1492, where he thought he had discovered a western route to Asia when in reality he reached what is known as the Bahamas today. It is safe to assume Columbus’s discovery was due more to his lack of knowledge in geography and ocean navigation than to a desire of discovering a “new world”.

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After this discovery, there were many various exchanges of goods, knowledge, diseases, and slavery. However, there were a few positive changes that came out of this discovery; the new world of America received many unknown and exciting things from these explorers such as rice, rye, garlic, chickens, horses, and tomatoes. They also received other things such as firearms, the ability to work metal, and produce items such as knives. Both worlds gained a considerable amount of goods, but the inhabitants of the New World benefited mainly because the introduction of these new things allowed them to diversify their farming and produce more valuable material items.

It’s easy to assume that tobacco was the most important thing that was exchanged during this time. When tobacco was brought home to Europe, it created something of a mass change in culture. There was also a positive impact on navigational sciences and missionary activity after the explorers returned home. Discovering the Americas let the explorers aspire further upon their knowledge in technology and because of that, these changes happened more rapidly than in the past. The invention of the compass allowed them to navigate better and to measure latitude and longitude more accurately. Because of this new exploration in the New World, there were many advantages to be discovered and those advantages changed life in many ways. Although there were many benefits to the Columbian exchange, the negative results simply overwhelmed the good ones. Not only was slavery introduced to the new world, but disease ran rampant for both sides.

The New World was afflicted by influenza, small pox, and malaria after the explorers introduced these diseases to them, but also the Europeans received syphilis and typhus from the natives. This resulted in mass death for hundreds of thousands of people. These diseases decimated cities, cleared whole regions on land and left an unrecoverable scar on the Native American population. The diseases measles and small pox were very common in Europe and the afro-Eurasian people grew immune during their child hood, however the Native Americans had virtually no immunity to them since these viruses never existed there before then.

The Columbian Exchange also introduced Christianity to the Natives. As the Europeans and the Spaniards spread through the Americas, so too did Christianity. There were many attempts to convert the natives to Christianity; some were successful, but most were not. Converting the natives to a new religion changed the culture and values of their ways and the idea expanded and traveled far and wide over time. The Europeans saw the Natives as savages for the way they lived and did everything they could to “save” them by converting them. Naturally the idea was faced with resistance and it did not end well for many of them. A lot of blood shed occurred over this idea. Many of the Indians simply added the idea of Jesus and God to there already long list of spiritual entities, but even so, the invaders didn’t approve and again several skirmishes occurred.

Even though the Columbian exchanged had many overwhelming negative results, it ended up being for the best, for the world was now fully connected and it was the beginning of the birth place for the United States. Over time the wild country of America was colonized and thus began the American revolution several years later on the east coast. None of us would be where we are today if the exchange never occurred; of course it could have gone a lot smoother than it did, but great things normally start out very messy.”

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The Columbian Exchange. (2021, Apr 19). Retrieved from