The Columbian Exchange History Essay

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Christopher Columbus brought from his voyages many products that were not yet known to Europeans. For example, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes were never used as food or even seen by any European country before. At the same time, in America, thanks to Columbus, grapes appeared, as well as horses and cows. This movement of goods, plants, and animals between the Old World (Europe) and the New World (America) lasted several hundred years and was called the "Columbian Exchange". This exchange has become a historical and extremely important phenomenon in world history that has completely reshaped the world.

The Importance of the Columbian Exchange

Christopher Columbus sailed for 70 days before the land appeared on the horizon on October 12, 1492. Columbus and his crew spotted a small island, which was later named San Salvador. He called the Aborigines whom Christopher Columbus met on the islands Indians because he sincerely believed that the lands he found were part of India. Surprisingly, this "false" name of the Native Americans has survived to this day. Therefore, when it comes to American Indians, they are called immediately with the clarification, "American Indians" or simply "Native Americans" (Specht and Stockland 64). The idea of the Colombian Exchange was to bring goods from India and “trade” them for the goods from Europe. Despite the initial misconception of Christopher Columbus and his crew, however, the main idea and goal of the Exchange were reached.

There were many dangerous moments during Columbus' travels, and Columbus miraculously saved his knowledge of astronomy. During the last voyage the ships were wrecked, provisions were running out, people were exhausted and sick, then Columbus summoned local leaders and announced that as a punishment for their hostility, the god of white people decided to take away the moon from the islanders. And indeed, the prediction came true: exactly at the specified time, the moon began to be covered by a black shadow. Then the Indians began to beg Columbus to return the moon to them but instead agreed to feed the strangers the best food and fulfill all their wishes (Nunn and Qian 163). Despite certain issues along the way, the result of the Exchange was still largely satisfactory as many goods brought by Columbus were considered treasures in Europe.

During four expeditions from 1493 to 1504, carried out by Christopher Columbus to the shores of America, his ships brought to Spain dozens of plants and animals that have never been seen by Europeans. It took years of careful study and selection for these products to be part of their diet, and several centuries for the dishes to be on the tables of people in remote parts of Europe and other continents. Pineapple, sunflower, pumpkin, avocado, zucchini, and this is a non-exhaustive list of products, which many European owe to the discovery of Christopher Columbus (Nunn and Qian 168). The goods brought from the Exchange expedition reshaped not only the taste experiences and preferences of the Europeans. Further research of plans and animals also changed the of thinking for many and would largely drive the progress of human civilization for centuries.

Columbus's expedition was quite modest, so the trophies brought did not differ much in variety. However, cocoa beans, hammock, turkey, tobacco, red hot pepper, and much more are firmly in use in Europe and the "old" world. However, there are good reasons that allowed Alfred Crosby to consider the exchange between the continents as equivalent, and not to consider it as overstocking Europe with gifts from the New World unilaterally. Moreover, the flow of goods from the Old World was more solid, moreover, faster and better organized. Crosby called it the "Columbian Exchange" (Specht and Stockland 12-13). It was, thus, not a scale of the expedition that changed the world but rather the quality. Despite not bringing relatively many different goods from America, Columbus has managed to impress and then change the world by the value of those goods.

t is known that cruising ships delivered plants and animals in both directions. It is impossible to list the whole list, but from Europe to America came artichokes, watermelons, peas, cabbage, hemp, onions, coffee, almonds, cucumbers, olives, rice, rye and wheat, beets, sugar cane, apples, and asparagus. In the opposite direction went avocado, pineapple, peanuts, vanilla, cocoa, hot red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, cashews, sunflowers, and beans. From Europe to America were transported sheep, donkeys, cows, cats and dogs, horses, pigs, rabbits, and chickens. Turkey, llama, alpaca, muskrat, nutria, and guinea pig were correspondingly transported back (Nunn and Qian 174-175). This changed Europe on the ecological and biological levels as the new animals would adapt to the new environment. In return, the environment of Europe would inevitably adapt to all the new species in a variety of ways.


Now that logistics have become commonplace and goods are delivered around the world at speed, it is difficult to imagine a world without these services. But, in fact, world global trade was invented by the Spaniards when it was first established by them between three parts of the world: Spain in Europe, the Philippines in the East, and America. The exchange was in both directions, but to call it equivalent would be inaccurate: the ships belonged to white people, and they decided how to fill the holds in both directions. We conclude that the first ships began to take into account the needs of Spaniards who settled in America, who wanted the usual wheat bread, meat products, olive oil, and wine.

Works Cited

Nunn, Nathan and Nancy Qian. "The Columbian Exchange: A History o Disease, Food, and Ideas". Journal Of Economic Perspectives, vol 24, no. 2, 2010, pp. 163-188. American Economic Association, Accessed 25 Mar 2022.

Specht, Joshua and Etienne Stockland. The Columbian Exchange. CRC Press, 2017.

May 12, 2022


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