Question

Assignment #3: The Columbian Exchange

 

          In the last few weeks of SOC 222, we have been exploring the expansion of Western empires into the Americas. While this process increased the economic and military power of these empires, this came at a huge cost to the Indigenous empires of both North and South America. Historians and anthropologists have described the exchange of people, plants, commodities, ideas, technologies and diseases from Eurasia to the Americas in this period as the 'Columbian Exchange'. For Assignment #3, please use our class slides, notes, lectures and readings to address the following questions on the Columbian Exchange. Your final answer should be ONE PAGE in length, single-spaced. A grading rubric can be found below. 

 

1. Was the Columbian Exchange a benefit to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas? Why or why not?

 

2. Describe how TWO of the following elements of the Columbian Exchange impacted the lives of Europeans, Indigenous Americans and Africans: tobacco, potatoes, sugar cane, Christianity, smallpox, coffee, gold. 

 

3. In addition to your response to question #2, how else did the Columbian Exchange benefit Europe?

Answer & Explanation
Verified Solved by verified expert

The Columbian exchange was the process whereby new plants, animals and diseases were exchange between the New World and the Old World as stated. It had a lot of impacts not only to the New World but also the Old World.

Step-by-step explanation

 1. Was the Columbian Exchange a benefit to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas? Why or why not?

 

The Columbian exchange was not a benefit to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. This is due to the fact that the major part of the exchange was the exchange of new diseases that contributed to the decimation of the largest percentage of the population of the indigenous people. Though they received new animals like sheep, horses, pigs and others, the negative impact of the new diseases like smallpox, measles, mumps, typhus and others were great. In fat close to five million natives were killed by these diseases as their bodies were new to these pathogens. 

 

 2. Describe how TWO of the following elements of the Columbian Exchange impacted the lives of Europeans, Indigenous Americans and Africans: tobacco, potatoes, sugar cane, Christianity, smallpox, coffee, gold. 

               Tobacco being one of the crops that was used in the New World had a lot of impacts to not only the Europeans but also the naives and the Africans. A general impact was the millions of deaths that was and is till witnessed across the globe. The natives, Europeans and Africans died of respiratory diseases that were caused by smoking tobacco. The Europeans, however, took advantage of it by exporting it to Europe after gaining some popularity thus acting as cash crop. The Europeans were enriched by tobacco and the economy of Europe was boosted by the import of tobacco from the New World. The Natives and the Africans were used as slaves to work on the tobacco plantations thus having a negative impact. This is due to the decimation of the natives due to slavery and the forceful transfer of Africans from Africa to the Americas for deadly enslavement.

               Smallpox too had impacts on the Europeans, the natives and the Africans. It remained one of the major killers since the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World to around 18th century. However, the impact on the natives was too much since it wiped up to ninety percent of their population. The Africans were not spared too. Though, for the Africans, the disease became more rampant during the age of colonization. Fortunately, vaccines had been developed leading to a reduced impact on the Africans. 

               

 3. In addition to your response to question #2, how else did the Columbian Exchange benefit Europe?

               Since the Columbian exchange involved the exchange of crops like corn, cassava, bananas and other food crops, the Europeans were able to get improved diet and enough food that led to a population increase in the continent. The introduction of such crops of potoatos ensures that harvest was almost throughout the year while others like corn were drought resistant; these had a huge psotivee impact on the entire Europe. Also the economy of Europe was enhanced as trade flourished since the New World acted as the source of raw materials for the industries in Europe especially after the industrial revolution while the Americas and Africa served as the source of market. The Triangular Trade was the trade that saw the exchange of goods and slaves from Africa to the Americas via Europe and vice versa. This trade saw a lot of European merchants gain a lot of wealthy as middlemen and transporters. The Europeans also migrated in large numbers to the Americas with the intention of finding gold, glory and spreading the word of God. 

                Also, some goods like skins from animals and fur together with the natural resources found in the new world served to improve the economy of Europe greatly. Colonization and capitalism were also spurred making the Europeans the richest and with the largest empires on earth. The population of Europe was able to move to the New World becoming farmers and businessmen who sent some resources back to their empires. The Great Britain for example was able to become the World's superpower until after the World Wars; this was due to the Columbian exchange.

It is however, unfortunate that the Europeans themselves fought for territorial possessions in the Americas leading to deadly and costly wars like the French Indian wars that left Britain heavily indebted. The Europeans too had a share of their diseases from the New World. Such diseases as syphilis and tuberculosis were acquired by the Europeans. 

 

 

        References

Nunn, N., & Qian, N. (2010). The Columbian exchange: A history of disease, food, and ideas. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(2), 163-88.

Merritt, J. E. (1960). The triangular trade. Business History, 3(1), 1-7.