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The Columbian Exchange DBQ

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The Columbian Exchange gave way to a life lived in modern day. Without the occurrence of the Columbian exchange, the resources that are so readily available would not be easy to obtain. The Columbian Exchange was the development of non-­‐ native plants, animals, and disease from Europe to the Americas and vise versa. Upon arrival in a new land, Christopher Columbus was stricken with admiration for the luscious new land. “The trees are as unlike ours as night from day, as are the fruits, the herbs, the stones, and everything…” (Doc 1).The land was fairly new and filled with trees and greenery that was a beautiful sight to see. In addition, the land was quite fertile as it was untouched soil. “They said that all these lands were cultivated and that a very wide and large river passed through the center of the valley, and could irrigate all the,” (Doc 1). The Native indigenous people relied on maize or corn and chili peppers for nutrients.

“The food they eat is maize and some chili peppers, as on the other islands, and potato yuca, just the same as is eaten in Chub, and they eat it roast, for they do not make bread of it; and they both hunt and fish and breed many chickens [probably turkeys] such s those found on Tierra Firme, which are as big as peacocks” (Doc 2). As people began studying a new area, new ideas and names for plant species arose. Botanists became a common profession. “The term ‘weed’ in modern botanical usage refers to any type of plant which—because of especially large numbers of seeds produced per plant, or especially effective means of distributing those seeds, or especially tough roots and rhizomes from which new plants can grow, or especially tough seeds that survive the alimentary canals of animals to be planted with their droppings—spreads rapidly and outcompetes others on disturbed, bare soil. Weeds are plants that tempt the botanist to use such anthropomorphic words as “aggressive” and “opportunistic.” (Doc 3).

New types of crops emerged from the breeding of seeds. Many items and goods were exchanged during the Columbian Exchange. South America exported Cassava, maniac, cacao to Africa, while they received sugar and rice from Asia. Asia also exported goods to North Africa, as well as North America. North America was booming with production of cash crops such as Maize, potatoes, tobacco, beans, squash, peppers, cacao, which they sold to continents of Europe and Africa. Not only were goods purchased but also disease became a widespread epidemic. North Americans spread syphilis, while Africa spread Malaria and Yellow Fever. Yellow fever soon spread to South America, North America, and even Europe (Doc 4). Disease wiped out millions of people during the Columbian exchange. One of the seafarers who traveled to the New World was Hernando Cortes. He brought cattle, and horses as well as other supplies to colonize in the new territory (Doc 5). Prior to the arrival of colonies to the Americas, Indigenous tribes were undisturbed and flourished. After the conquistadors arrived the population of native peoples decreased a great deal.

“Although scholars debate the exact numbers, in Alvin Josephy’s estimate, the Indian population fell from between fifteen and twenty million when the white man first came at a fraction of that 150 years later. Undoubtedly the Indians perished in great numbers. Yet although European enslavement of Indians and the Spanish forced labor system extracted a heavy toll in lives, the vast majority of Indian casualties occurred not as a result of hard work or deliberate destruction but because of contagious diseases that the Europeans transmitted to the Indians” (Doc 6). The spread of infectious disease was the culprit for the deaths of the indigenous tribes. The Native Americans contracted measles and smallpox that later became known as tuberculosis. Because the Indians were not exposed to certain pathogens, they did not build immunity to particular aliments causing them to parish in considerable amounts. The epidemic was an advantage for the Spaniards because the resulting epidemic killed nearly half the Aztecs.

Soon Mexico’s population plummeted to about 1.6 million from an initial population of 20 million (Doc 8). Moreover, trade was the fundamental source of income for most “mother states”. “Geographically, the Eastern and Western Hemispheres were joined after millennia of virtual isolation from one another. Economically, the bullion trade linking Latin America, Europe, and Asia; the slave trade connecting Africa, Europe, and the Americas; and the fur trade joining North America, Western Europe, and Russia substantially stimulated the growth of the modern global economy. Politically, the contemporary worldwide international system was born in the extension of intra-­‐ European conflict into the Western Hemisphere, the establishment of European colonies in the Americas, and the accompanying intrusion of Europeans into the political affairs of Native Americans, and the Native Americans’ influence on the political and military affairs of European states. Ecologically, the massive transcontinental exchange of plants, animals, microorganisms, and natural resources initiated by the Spanish and Portuguese voyages modified the global ecological system forever” (Doc 7).

Because of the increase in trade, people relied on cheap forced labor to keep up with the demands. Slaves became a imperative part in the economy. As the slaves come down to Fida from the inland country, they are put into a booth or prison….near the beach, and when the Europeans are to receive them, they are brought out onto an extensive plain, where the ship’s surgeons examine every part of everyone of them, to the smallest member, men and women being stark naked…Such are allowed good, and sound are set on one side…marked on the breast with a red-­‐hot iron, imprinting the mark of the French, English or Dutch companies….The branded slaves after this are returned to their former booths where they await shipment, sometimes 10–15 days….” (Doc 9).

Men, women, and children were auctioned off and even became more valuable than cattle. Cattle were a source of protein for the peoples of America. There were many species that proved popular in the New World. Ranching economies became familiar, and early America was an agriculturally based region (Doc 10). Without the Columbian Exchange, there would not have been changes in technology and the way of life. Because of the Columbian Exchange people in the modern world would not have the necessities that are readily available. The domestication of cattle and animals would not have been possible, and the ecosystem would simply not be the same.

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