Legal Law

The Columbian exchange after the Spanish colonization

Posted by admin

The so-called discovery of the so-called New World by the Europeans goes down in history as one of the most important and transcendental moments in the history of humanity, being classified right there with the advent of agriculture, the domestication of animals and the discovery of the use of fire Although the Vikings arrived in Newfoundland around the year 1000, they apparently decided that Greenland would be a much better colony and took off, leaving the Spanish with all the glory almost five centuries later. Since then, the exchange of plants, animals, people and diseases has been called the “Columbian exchange” after the charismatic Christopher Columbus, who stumbled upon the Bahamas thinking he had landed in India.

Over the next few centuries, different groups of European explorers brought crops such as corn, potatoes, cassava, tomatoes, peppers, cocoa, peanuts, strawberries, and tobacco to the Old World from the Americas, meaning the potato is no longer Irish. that the tomato is Italian, the pepper is Spanish, or the cigarette is French. In particular, carbohydrate-rich corn and potatoes helped alleviate the deadly food shortages that were all too common in Europe; Ireland’s population alone increased 800 percent in 200 years, only to be devastated by the potato blight in the mid-1840s. So much to put all your potatoes in one basket.

Of course, it wouldn’t be called the Columbian Exchange if the process hadn’t gone both ways. Imagine the Plains Indians, then subtract the horses. Imagine a Central American banana republic, then subtract the bananas. Imagine a Columbian donkey carrying a load of coffee beans, then subtract both the donkey and the coffee beans. Imagine a variety of Mexican food, then subtract rice, cheese, lettuce, black olives, onion, chicken, pork, and beef. Or imagine a handful of remote, arid, and utterly impoverished Indian Reservations, and then subtract smallpox, influenza, typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, measles, scarlet fever, yellow fever, and malaria. These were just a few of the things that Europeans brought with them during the early years of interaction with the New World.

The New World was a fairly healthy place before the Columbian Exchange, which is why Old World diseases had such an easy time decimating indigenous populations. Think of Jim and Dwight talking about health insurance in The Office. Dwight: “I don’t need it. I’ve never been sick. Perfect immune system.” Jim: “Okay, well, if you’ve never been sick, then you don’t have any antibodies.” Having spent centuries suffering continuous bouts of some downright nasty diseases, the Old Worlders had accumulated a wide variety of antibodies by the time they arrived in the Americas. In fact, many of the animals they brought to the New World (the aforementioned chickens, pigs, and cows, for example) were one of the main reasons Europeans were so sick all the time. It turns out that sleeping in the same one-room house as your cattle can harm your health, especially at a time when bathing once a week makes you a real dandy.

Prior to Spanish colonization and the Columbian Exchange, the Native population of the Americas was estimated to be between 40 and 100 million, meaning that Native Americans in all likelihood outnumbered the 60 million European citizens. In fact, in 1492, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán was bigger, cleaner, and more beautiful than any city in Europe, while the Incas boasted the largest empire in the world. The “Great Dying” of indigenous peoples that followed may well have killed as many as 1 in 5 humans worldwide. Westerners love to go on and on about the 14th century Black Death, but the plague, or even the sum of the many plagues in Europe, cannot be compared to what happened in the New World.

When European settlers arrived in what is now the US, they were absolutely delighted with how beautiful, pristine, and park-like the landscape was, and since “Indians” were dying en masse all around them, they thought that God was giving them a sign of their right to the land. Little did they know that they had stumbled across thousands of years of maintenance work by native peoples, many of whom had been decimated by fast-spreading European diseases before the settlers got there.

The vast majority of the indigenous people who suffered during the Columbian Exchange no longer exist to tell the tale. However, some of its unexpected survivors include the black populations of the Americas; the introduction of the cassava plant to West Africa resulted in a population boom that would help fuel the slavery created around Columbian Exchange cash crops such as cotton, sugarcane, coffee, and tobacco. Though Americans have long been taught to live by words like “Manifest Destiny” and “American Dream,” we must not forget the millions upon millions for whom, to quote Langston Hughes’s poem, America was a dream. deferred.

Leave A Comment