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Consequences of the Columbian Exchange

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1. Write an essay on one unintended consequence of the Columbian Exchange. To begin, read the examples of actions and consequences below, and note how each consequence was intended or unintended.

Some European sailors and conquistadors have smallpox.
Sailors come in contact with Native Americans, who contract the disease and die after infecting their relatives and neighbors, who continue to spread the disease. Unintended: Europeans did not intentionally infect Native Americans with diseases. Europeans bring rice and wheat with them and plant the crops in the New World. Rice and wheat become important crops in many parts of North America. Intended: Europeans intended to grow rice and wheat in the New World to supplement the native crops. Europeans take potatoes from the New World back to Europe.

Potatoes become an important crop, so much so that some European countries begin to depend on them as their main food source. Both:
Intended: Europeans intended to grow potatoes in Europe to supplement the native crops. Unintended: Some European countries became overly dependent on the potato as a food source. Affluent Europeans buy sugar from merchants in European cities. Millions of people in Africa are kidnapped by African slave traders and sold to European sugar cane planters in the Caribbean. Unintended: The demand for sugar in Europe became so great that sugar cane growers needed more workers to tend crops. They expanded the slave trade that had started in Africa and brought slaves to the Americas to tend the crops. Spanish conquistadors bring horses with them to the New World. Some horses escape. Native Americans catch the horses and learn to ride and train them. They become expert horsemen. Unintended: At first Native Americans were afraid of horses, but they soon saw their value and learned to use them to their benefit. Europeans bring cattle with them to the New World.

Cattle ranches become a profitable business and beef becomes a major American food source. Intended: Europeans intended to raise cattle in the New World to supplement native sources of meat. Conduct Research, Choose a Topic, and Write a Thesis Statement Conduct some online exploration to find more consequences of the Columbian Exchange, and decide whether they are intended or unintended. Choose one unintended consequence that you found or one of the examples listed above and do in-depth research on it. Gather details such as locations or countries, key people, populations involved, and ways in which the unintended consequence can be seen many years or even centuries later. Then, write the consequence in the form of a question, such as, “How did the introduction of the horse to the New World change the lives of Native Americans?” Use the question to formulate a thesis statement for your essay. The thesis should answer the question. Using the sample question above, the thesis would be, “Plains Indians domesticated horses from Europe. They became famous for their skill in hunting and fighting from horseback.” Write your thesis statement in one or two clear sentences. Thesis Statement:

Write Your Essay
Write an essay that supports your thesis statement. Include details such as locations or countries, key people, populations involved, and ways in which the unintended consequence can be seen many years or even centuries later.

The Columbian Exchange started when Christopher Columbus went on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492 and at that time the people from both hemispheres were interested in new products and suffered from new diseases. The biggest impact in that time was the start of new agriculture crops in each hemisphere. An unintended negative impact of the Columbian Exchange was disease. Before Christopher Columbus went back home from the New World, there were things that the world didn’t have that the Americas had like potatoes. No one grew potatoes outside the Americas, but after a few centuries it became one of Europe’s main foods. Potatoes were also a very important ingredient to make Russian Vodka. Russian Vodka became Russia’s main export. Chocolate became popular in Europe as well.

Portuguese transported maize and peanuts to Africa. It was easier to grow them there, especially in Southern Africa. The growing of these crops increased the population in the region. Europe also brought livestock to the Americas which is huge impact. The Spanish people introduced horses to the Americas and it was important to the Americas because it created a nomadic lifestyle for many native tribes. Cattle was introduced by Europeans which helped the Americas to raise livestock on land that was hard to farm on. An unintended negative impact of the Columbian Exchange was disease. European people carried germs which they were pretty much immune to but the people in the Americas weren’t immune to these germs which destroyed most of the population. Around 70% of South Americans were gone. Small pox was also brought from Europe to the Native Americans which caused many to die.

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