The Columbian Exchange Essay example
1077 WordsSep 25th, 20075 Pages
The Columbian Exchange is the exchange of plants, animals, food, and diseases between Europe and the Americas. In 1492, when Christopher Columbus came to America, he saw plants and animals he had never seen before so he took them back with him to Europe. Columbus began the trade routes which had never been established between Europe and the Americas so his voyages initiated the interchange of plants between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, which doubled the food crop resources available to people on both sides of the Atlantic. When the Europeans explored the Americas, they were introduced to new plants, foods, and animals, as well as riches and land. Foods such as corn, white and sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cacao, fruits,…show more content…
Grains such as wheat, rye, barley, oats and rice were shared. Citrus fruits, grapes, onions, cabbage, turnips, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, as well as spices and herbs, were among the many other foods and plants introduced to Native American culture. Also introduced were European religion and culture, new tools for agriculture, and new weaponry such as knives and firearms. One consequence of the exchange was mass death. In the search for new routes for trade, people of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas came in contact with each other, causing the spread of disease. Columbus's colonization brought a host of new diseases to the populations of the Americas. Europeans exported their diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis and smallpox. In return, European traders and colonizers returned the Europe with syphilis and typhus from the Americas. The slave trade caused the spread of malaria and yellow fever from Africa to the Caribbean and North America, and yellow fever to Europe. While trying to adapt Native Americans to European customs, Columbus and his followers took advantage of the Indians. The Spanish burned the Natives sacred objects and would not allow them to practice their own religions. They also abused the Natives, enslaving them, taking land from them, and raping their women. Because of the conquistadors quest for gold and other riches,
Dreams of Empire: The Legacies of Contact
Excellent and highly teachable essay that begins with a picnic setting (with Old and New World foods) and progresses through the animals, diseases, agricultural techniques, etc., that are termed "the Columbian Exchange," concluding with a review of European colonization in the New World; includes linked illustrations and a bibliography. Be aware that syphilis is presented as a disease of New World origin although current research disputes this (see below). By Professor Sherry Johnson, Department of History, Florida International University in Miami; from the online exhibition "Myths and Dreams: Exploring the Cultural Legacies of Florida and the Caribbean" from the Historical Museum of South Florida (home: http://www.millennium-exhibit.org/index.html).
Columbus and the Age of Discovery
Data base of articles including those listed below on the Columbian Exchange and on the Native American response to the Quincentennial, compiled and presented online by the Computerized Information Retrieval System (CIRS), a project of Millersville University (Pennsylvania) Department of History and Academic Computing Services, and an official site of the U.S. Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission.
Crosby, Alfred W. "Rethinking the Encounter: New Perspectives on Conquest and Colonization, 1450-1550,"Encuentro Quarterly (A Columbian Quincentenary Newsletter, Latin American Institute, the University of New Mexico), Vol. 4 (Summer/1988).
Columbian Exchanges: corn, potatoes, sugar, the horse, disease
Well-organized overview of five of the Columbian "exchanges," with bibliography; from Steven Crouthamel, Anthropology Department, Palomar College.
Europeans and the Environment: The New World
Well-written summary of the Columbian Exchange of plants (including weeds), animals, and disease, with citations from the works of Professor Crosby; from the site "The Colonial American Gazette" by a Millersville University graduate (see above) and current graduate student in colonial history.
Bibliography: Biological and Cultural Impact of the European Invasion of America
Brief annotations of 24 publications on the Columbian Exchange, compiled by the National Museum of the American Indian (Smithsonian Institution).
16th- and 17th-Century Conquest/Exploration Narratives
Complete or partial online texts of narratives with descriptions of New World plants, animals, and disease.
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America, 1542.
European Narratives on North American Plants
Introducing this history of European scientific study of New World flora is a review of the major
16th- and 17th-century European narratives and botanical studies; by James L. Reveal and James S. Pringle, "Taxonomic Botany and Floristics in North America North of Mexico: A Review"; from the College of Life Sciences, University of Maryland.
Seeds of Change Garden, Smithsonian
Online teaching materials for elementary level on Old and New World foods, gardening, and cultural diversity, plus guidelines for creating "exchange gardens" and other activities; based on the exhibition Seeds of Change from the National Museum of Natural History; sections include:
--History: Where Food Crops Originated
Edibles with Roots in the New World
Teachable article on the most common New World foods, with a quiz and recipe links, from About.com.
"Juicy Tidbits" on New World Foods
Twelve intriguing factoids from the exhibition A Harvest Gathered: Food in the New World from the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.
Adoption of New World Crops by Europeans
Scroll for the section entitled "Why These Crops Were Adopted," part of lecture notes in American economic history provided by Professor John Tomaske, Dept. of Economics and Statistics, California State UniversityLos Angeles.
"Foods the Americas Gave the World"
Chapter-by-chapter overview of Chilies to Chocolate: Foods the Americas Gave the World, eds. N. Foster and L. S. Cordell (1992), reviewed by Susan Toby Evans, Pennsylvania State University, in The Nahua Newsletter, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Indiana University.
Impact of New World Foods on British Diet and Culture
Scroll to the section "Tudor Food Culture" in this essay, "British Colonial Expansion and the Expansion of British Food Culture 1500-1800: 'Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are,'" by Burcin Erol, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey, on the site of the British Council in Turkey.
Maize: Gift from America's First Peoples
Everything about maize (and links to more) from the Agronomy Department, Iowa State University; don't miss the detailed history by Professor Salvador at http://www.ag.iastate.edu/departments/agronomy/maizearticle.html
"Thanks for the Miracle of Corn"
Fact-filled entertaining article on maize, its origins, history, cultivation, Native American folklore, discovery by Old World explorers, etc., by Edythe Preet, for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate (September 8, 2000), on the site CNN.com.
The Potato: Then and Now
Entertaining site on the potato (once one learns to navigate the complex site) with teaching activities, quizzes, resources, etc.; page on the New World origins of the potato is at http://collections.ic.gc.ca/potato/history/beginnings.asp; from the site Canada's Digital Collections (content reviewed by the Prince Edward Island Department of Agriculture and Forestry).
The White Potato
Entry on the white potato from The Cambridge History of World Food by Kenneth Kipple (2000), recommended by Professor Crosby.
The Potato: First European Illustration
Image and text from John Gerard, The Herball, or, Generall Historie of Plantes (London, 1597); on the site of the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries, Texas A&M University.
The Tomato: "I Say Tomayto, You Say Tomahto . . ."
Entertaining and thorough article on the history and cultivation of the tomato, by Samuel Cox, a graduate student in horticulture at Colorado State University.
Tobacco: A Capsule History
Well-cited timeline with numerous quotes from European commentators, from the Tobacco BBS (Electronic Bulletin Board System).
Origins of Fruit Crops
Easy to navigate horticultural site on thirty fruit and nut crops with brief summaries of the origin, history of cultivation, and folklore related to each; from Professor Mark Reiger, Horticulture Department, University of Georgia.
Ethnobotanical Histories of Economic Plants
Collection of "ethnobotanical leaflets" from the Southern Illinois University Herbarium.that illustrate the scientific detective work in determining the geographic origins and cultivation histories of plants; New World plants include:
[Research other crops of the Columbian Exchange by searching for "[name of crop], history" in any search engine.]
International Conflicts in New Crops Policy
After a clear summary of the Columbian Exchange (and its consequences for power competition in Europe), author Cary Fowler proceeds to "Modern-Day Conflicts," especially competition over plant genetic resources ("seed wars"); originally published in J. Janick and J. E. Simon, eds., New Crops: Exploration, Research, and Commercialization -- Proceedings of the Second National Symposium (1993); reproduced on the website of the Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products.
The Horse: Introduction to the New World
Brief history on the site "Wild Horses, An American Romance," produced by the Nebraska ETV Network in partnership with South Dakota Public Television.
Return of the Horse to the New World
A well-illustrated history of the re-introduction of the horse to the western hemisphere after the extinction of its prehistoric New World ancestor; in "A Chronological History of Humans and Their Relationship With the Horse" from the International Museum of the Horse, Lexington, Kentucky.
Crayfish: Description in the Florentinc Codex
Page facsimile and transcription of Sahagún's description of the crayfish in Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España [Florentine Codex] c. 1575-1580, with background information on the text; on the site of the Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Llamas: Descriptions in English Narratives
A compilation of llama descriptions in narratives of the voyages of Sir Francis Drake; by Oliver Seeler, Llamas, Vol. 7 (July/August 1993).
The Virginia Opossum
Includes descriptions of the opposum in New World narratives; from the Georgia Wildlife Federation.
The Llama and the Opossum (?): Images in Topsell's Four-Footed Beasts, 1658
Illustrations of the allocamelus (llama) and the su (a marsupial/opposum?) of Peru, from Edward Topsell's History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (London, 1607/1658), with brief quotes (and offhand comments from the site creator).
Animal Images in Ancient Mayan Ceramics
Images of the opossum, jaguar, and other New World animals in Mayan ceramics (including some vessels used to drink cacao, agave cactus juice, and other beverages); from the Logan Museum of Anthropology, Beloit College.
Domestication of Animals in the Old and New Worlds
Brief insightful contrast entitled "How domestication of animals proved easiest for Europeans"; part of a UCLA lecture by Jared Diamond, summarizing best-selling study Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997).
Plants, Animals, and Diseases Introduced into the U.S. since c. 1800
Useful and teachable article entitled "Costly Interlopers: Introduced species of animals, plants and microbes cost the U.S. $123 billion a year." Section entitled "Paying the Toll" presents summaries of "interlopers" among plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates, and microbes. On the website of Scientific American.
Africanized Honey Bees in the U.S. Southwest
One of the better online sources for a layman's introduction to the famed "killer bees" from Brazil; entitled "Valley Buzz," from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 13, 2000.
Zebra Mussels: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know but Were Afraid To Ask
Good site for classroom use, covering the mussel's history and environmental effects; from Canadian Environmental Solutions on Schoolnet.
Difference between Jaguars and Leopards
Since Professor Crosby begins his essay with a salute to these wild cats&151;one New World, one Old World&151;we offer these pages from two wildlife sanctuaries.
Plagues and Peoples: the Columbian Exchange
Brief summary of the effects of smallpox and syphilis epidemics in the New World after the arrival of Columbus and the Spanish conquerors, with short excerpts from Spanish conquest narratives; by Dr. Ian Carr, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba.
"Spanish and Nahuatl Views on Smallpox and Demographic Catastrophe in the Conquest of Mexico"
Fascinating journey into the ongoing debate over the severity of the 16th-century smallpox epidemic in Mexico, using demographic studies as well as Spanish and native accounts of the period; by Professor Robert E. McCaa, History Department, University of Minnesota.
Evidence of Syphilis in Pre-Columbian Europe
News articles on the discovery of skulls in England that reveal a "mini-epidemic" of syphilis well before Columbus's voyages, contributing to the mounting evidence that syphilis existed in Europe before the 16th century.
The Origin of AIDS
Clear review of the research on the origin of AIDS, describing the earliest cases in Africa, Europe, and the United States, and describing the human-origin theories and the non-HIV theories; from HIV Insite from the University of California - San Francisco.
Travel and the Emergence of Infectious Diseases
More accessible to the layman than it first appears, this article puts the Columbian Exchange of disease into a 21st-century perspective; by Mary E. Wilson, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, in Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 1 (April/June 1995).
Return to "Native Americans and the Land" Links to Online Resources
Return to the essay, The Columbian Exchange
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