The Columbian Exchange

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Europe and Spain were major players in wold trade towards the end of the fifteenth century; they transported people,  carried religion, ideas, plants, animals and unfortunatelly-diseases throughout the world. This promoted a blending of cultures known as the Columbian exchange. An example of disease they spread to the new world from the old was  syphilis, the opposite proved to be more virulent as exemplified by the smallpox spead from Cuba to Mexico in 1519, with trachoma, whooping cough, chickenpox, bubonic plague, and malaria. These Europeans would ultimately use disease as secondary ally in their conquests, for example; smallpox caused just as much..or even more damage to the Aztec’s as their pesence in Tenochitlan did. However, historians believe that old  world diseases spread from mexico to eastern North America even before European arrival, and by the time explorers and colonists got there, there was already lots of emptied land. The Spanish and Portuguese saw this and further used disease as a pretense in needing and bringing more slaves into the new world for cotton and tobacco production. Even though old world people impacted new world natives drastically scholars argue that plants and animals had even more profound effect. The animals and plants  they brought multiplied and drove out many native species and eventually became staples of daily life and like: chicken, pork, cattle ,and horses. Fruits such  as apples, peaches, and artichokes also thrived in these new lands, small grains like: oats, wheat, and barley were also very much prized. This was not all one-sided though, products like maize, potatoes, and beans were exported to the old world as well. By the nineteenth century European diet became largely dependent on new world food. Conquest was achieved largely because the Europeans and Ameri-Indians had somewhat similar views about cultural transformation. People of the valley of mexico already had pre-existing beliefs that new gods would conquer them so, when the Spaniards arrived in their great ships-natives were awestruck and thought them the same as gods. The Spanish played on that prophecy and used it to achieve their purpose. The Spanish replaced religious temples with their  own churces which, eventually became places where religion and cultural values mixed in a way that attracted more followers to their gates. These conquered regions were sturctured much like the cities of the old world by the adaptation of their uniform grid system. The new cities were centers of political and social life and became birthplaces for the colleges later to come. The French and English settlers of the seventeenth century justified European conquest by saying that they had divine right to the lands in the new world, and even claimed that disease wiped out major native populations because it was in “God’s divine plan.” They didn’t mention their design of  violence, deceit, and slaughter in acheiving this purpose though. They reasoned that God preferred them there and was responsible for “clearing out the land for them.” 


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