Gen Ed 111
October 17, 2010
The term exchange essentially means something given for something returned. So when that term is used to describe a period in history, namely the American Exchange, (a.k.a The Columbian Exchange), the terms of the swap might be on the subtle side and not always a win win situation for both parties involved, but an exchange none the less. In the years from 1500 to 1800 C.E. an interchange that would alter the lives of many from diets, to livestock, disease, and population, to name a few occurred. This time period, all be it controversial in its benefit of those in receipt of the exchange, is understood to be a huge event in this worlds history.
One of the catalysts for this 300 year period of trading began with Columbus’ “discovery” of America. In his voyages, Columbus “established links between the eastern and western hemispheres and paved the way for the conquest, settlement, and exploitation of the Americas by European peoples” (Bentley 372). This event began the influx of people to this new land. Along with them came disease, new animals, and new vegetation. For the Natives, this invasion brought illnesses that their bodies had never experienced before and that therefore meant a tremendous amount of population decline. For the Europeans, this at first meant a new land to conquer, settle and call home.
The Natives of what was to be called America, had been kept so isolated that they had not developed an immunity to yellow fever, malaria, small pox, and measles to name a few. These diseases didn’t just infect the Native Americans, these diseases also spread to the likes of the Aztecs and Incas. Because theses civilizations were so densely populated, the results were devastating. The population decline of this time was so severe that it has been dubbed “The Great Dying”. It is possible that the decline in citizens was so broad that it could have brought about the decline of both the Aztecs and...