How did the arrival of Europeans affect the environment of North America?
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The European arrival of North America was an extremely significant leap into the future. This introduction of two entirely opposite and completely separate cultures inevitably molded and shaped our present existence. Fortunately, European culture prevailed because of its technological and social advancement. If the Native Americans would have driven the Europeans from the continent, then we would all be either nonexistent, or living in unlivable, extremely crowded, filthy, disgusting places for the duration of our lives.
First, making contact with Native Americans in 1492, Christopher Columbus had no idea he had discovered the Americas. After this first contact, more and more Europeans ventured over the Atlantic to seek their fortunes in the New World. From that point on, the influences of the differing cultures were experienced on both continents; one example of this is the Columbian Exchange. In the Columbian Exchange, many foods, plants, and animals were exchanged between continents. Among the new types of plants provided by North America for Europe were potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and tobacco. The potato, in fact, eventually revolutionized the international economy as well as the European diet, feeding the rapid population growth of the Old World.
Also benefiting from the Columbian Exchange was North America. When Columbus returned to Hispaniola, he brought with him many types of cattle, swine, and horses, which later found their way to the mainland and spread as far north as Canada in less than two centuries. Sugarcane was also introduced to the supple, warm climate of present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic and thrived causing a sugar revolution in Europe. Another major aspect of European arrival was the transportation of slaves. With all the plantations and farms in the New World, many Africans were shipped over to help tend to the well being of the crops. However, the introduction of the potato into African culture more than offset the losses cause by the slave trade. In the New England states, fur trade boomed and Indians were somewhat happy; they traded furs and in return received metal pots and copper kettles to replace gourd bowls and clay pots. Metal ax heads, glass beads, decorative jewelry, woolen blankets, and guns were also many things that the Native Americans sought in their trades.
Clearly, in the onset of their relations, both sides benefited, But, as the Old World settlers become more and more voracious in their appetite for land and ownership, the Indians revolted and inevitably caused their own destruction with their paltry uprisings. One cannot rightly say whether this was beneficial to the continent or not; however, many indications point to the affirmative. With the Indians removed, more room was made for European settlers. As the population of North American exploded, it became a force to be reckoned with. Its trade status improved and England ignorantly tried to tighten its grip on the colonies. Eventually, through revolution, the thirteen colonies banded together, overthrew English grasp on them and became the all-powerful United States of America! Without the defeat of the Indians, our country would not exist today.