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Colombian Exchange

In: Historical Events

Submitted By hsamantha101
Words 888
Pages 4
Samantha Harris
April 4, 2014

The Columbian Exchange Columbus’s Voyage played a pivotal role in History because it lead to the exchange of goods, people and ideas, between the Old World and the World, which has been termed the Columbian Exchange or the Great Exchange, devised by historian Alfred Crosby, of the University of Texas. Many new and different goods were exchanged between parts of the Earth and transformed Europe and American ways of life. Everyone today knows that Florida is famous for our oranges, and as a matter of fact it is our official state fruit and is a major part of Florida’s economy. However, did you know that before Columbus and the Columbian Exchange, oranges did not exist in the Americas? The orange plant is believed to be native to Asia. I believe that It’s Important to understand the Columbian Exchange, because understanding the Columbian Exchange helps us understand the forces that shape the world , as we know it today. This essay will specifically focus on the impact the Columbian Exchange had on Europe in regards to newly introduced plants. New plants impacted Europe in a very positive way by increasing Europe’s population tremendously and also creating economic stimulation which make this country a very powerful country. Newly introduced plants also had some negative impacts, not on Europe but on slaves. New plants associated with the Columbian Exchange had a huge impact on the population of Europe. The Old World received bountiful amounts of new plants that were discovered in the New World. Plants like potato, tomato, maize (corn), cassava and many more, created a surplus of food for Europe. Before the Columbian Exchange, carbohydrate based plants was scarce. Europeans relied on eating native plants and animals which subjected many people to deadly diseases from eating. Plants brought over from American to Europe also contaminated people, and of course, many people died, however, could not compare to the increase in Population. Many people suffered from malnutrition and starvation before the Columbian Exchange. The factor that promoted good health and population growth was the increase and improvement of food supply in Europe. “The adoption of efficient, carbohydrate-rich American crops such as corn, potatoes, and cassava allowed Europeans and Africans to overcome chronic food shortages” ( A primarily important American crop that was brought over to Europe, for example, is the potato, rich in starch, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, became an important part of the European diet so much so that it became a part of almost every meal they had. “An entirely new food plant or set of food plants will permit the utilization of soils and seasons…causing a real jump in food production and therefore, in population.”(Crosby, The Columbian Exchange, p.168) New plants in Europe not only positively affect its population, but is also created economic stimulation. Plants from the new world, which were now being produced in Europe, were sold and traded making profit and helping the economy. Chili and paprika were traded with India for example. Bigger plantations were set up in Europe which created a larger supply of plants that could be sold or traded. Bigger plantations also created a demand for labor. For example some plantations consisted of maize (corn) which became a staple crop in Europe. Corn provided people with more jobs as famers and allowed farmers to sell to merchants in order for them to sell to the people which stimulated the economy. There were also nonfood plants that made it to Europe such as rubber, tobacco, and cotton that helped Europe’s economy. The tobacco plant was known at first for its healing properties and had spread to all parts of Europe. Newly introduced plants also had some negative impacts as well. Other than disease, it caused forced labor of Africans. Because there was such high demand for labor, Africans were sold to work on Europe and American plantations for free, which helped the economy of Europe, but caused suffering and mistreatment of Africans. “A contemporary estimated that every Englishman driving slaves in the cane fields brought twenty times greater clear profit to England than a similar person in the home country.” (Crosby, The Columbian Exchange, p.217). Unfortunately, Slaves also had a huge impact on the expansion of Europe. However, thank God slavery no longer exist in America. The aim of this paper was to provide, in a few words, how plants that were introduced to Europe impacted the country, increasing its population and stimulating the economy. Europeans overcame starvation and malnutrition and prospered as food supply increased. New world plants thrived in the old world, creating also a profitable country and making Europe, eventually, very wealthy. This essay also explains because of plants and goods the impact slaves had on Europe’s expansion.

Work Cited
"CDA's World History Wiki." The Columbian Exchange and Global Trade -.
Crosby, Alfred W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport
"Maize." The Columbian Exchange.web. <>.
"The Columbian Exchange." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. <>.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Columbian Exchange Summary & Analysis." Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. <>.

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