Write 9 page essay on the topic The Influence of the Columian Exchange throughout North America leading up to the Revolutionary War.
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Europeans started this contact and habitually decided its terms. For Africans and Native Americans, their life in America was to be steeped in tragedy for the next three centuries. Disease The most devastating consequences of the lengthy isolation of the American continent were to be biological. Africans, Asians and Europeans had been exposed to each other’s maladies for centuries because they frequently came into contact with each other through trade practices (Peabody and Grinberg, 2007). By 1500, these three ethnic groups had acquired immune systems that moderately protected them from most illnesses. Native Americans, who remained unexposed to other ethnic groups, were larger in body size and healthier than Columbus and his co-partners in 1492, when the two groups first met (McNeill, 2012). However, their long isolation from other ethnicities meant that their bodies had no immunity against the diseases that other ethnic groups quickly mastered. European and African maladies would soon begin ravaging the American Indian tribes. Smallpox quickly became the largest killer, even though influenza and measles also decimated huge populations of American Indians. The native population of Mexico, for example, was approximately 17 million, when in 1519 Cortes and his men reached the land (McNeill, 2012). A century later, there were less than a million natives remaining in Mexico, simply as a result of communicable diseases. It has been estimated that the entire Native American population was reduced by 90 percent within the first 100 years after European travelers first reached the American shores. This fact hugely contributed to the subsequent European domination of the continent. The Introduction of Food Crops One of the few advantages of the Columbian Exchange era was the exchange of knowledge of different crops between different ethnic groups. Prior to the Columbian Exchange, there had been no potatoes cultivated in Europe (Hughes, 2003). The Columbian Exchange also hugely expanded the scale of the production of some well-liked drugs as well as crops such as sugar, coffee and tobacco use to many Europeans (Crosby, 2008). In the next few centuries potatoes would grow to be a major ingredient of Russian Vodka and the staple food in Ireland (Hughes, 2003). Chocolate, a plant only previously grown in the Americas, soon became a favorite in Europe. Plants like peanuts and maize were also transported to Africa by Portuguese. These robust crops could be cultivated in arid regions that hardly sustained any other type of edible plants (Hall, 2003). There are many historians who believe that the introduction of maize in Africa resulted in an increase in population. Before Columbus reached the American shores in 1492, the Americas had many different domesticated crops such as cassava, maize (corn), squashes, potatoes and different types of beans. Other plants that were less actively cultivated included papaya, sweet potato, avocado, pineapple, tomato, guava, chili peppers, peanuts, and cacao (McNeill, 2012). In spite of maize’s success in readapting to the African climate, the potato did not do as well in Africa.
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