1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Discovered
If you want to learn more about the Columbian Exchange, you should consider reading 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann. This book includes text analysis and interactive exercises to help you learn about the New World Columbus discovered. In addition to providing an overview of the Columbian Exchange, it also explains how it affected human diet and population.
Diseases introduced by the Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was the process of transferring plants, animals, and diseases from the New World to Europe and Africa. Europeans introduced crops, vegetables, and fruit trees. The Natives introduced foods that were not native to these regions, such as corn, peanuts, bananas, and papaya. The new plants, animals, and diseases had a profound effect on the European diet and the human race.
The Europeans brought more than a dozen diseases with them. Some of these diseases were deadly, and infected millions of Native Americans. Smallpox, for example, was one of the most devastating diseases that wiped out entire indigenous communities. It was transmitted by contact with scabs and pus-filled boils. Survivors would often vomit blood and suffer disfiguring scars. But because the diseases were brought by Europeans, the Natives did not develop immunity to them.
Impact of disease on human populations
During the Columbian exchange, diseases from the Old World were transferred from one part of the New World to another. These diseases, including smallpox and mumps, spread to new regions. In addition, the slave trade introduced diseases from the Old World such as hepatitis B and malaria. Many native populations in the New World died due to these diseases. As a result, the disease outbreaks were devastating to their societies.
The disease outbreaks were facilitated by increased trade between the continents, and the Americas acquired diseases from Africa, Asia, and Europe. These new diseases were then spread around the globe. The first global pandemic occurred in 1829, when cholera broke out in the Ganges delta. The bacterium was transported on British ships and eventually reached the United States.
Impact of slave trade
The slave trade spread throughout the Americas, creating an enormous demand for cheap labor. Slavers were often kidnapped with the assistance of local rulers. The most common destination of slaves was Brazil, where they were sold to sugar plantations. Sugar is an extremely harsh crop to cultivate, and slaves often have short lifespans. However, sugar eventually surpassed silver as the most valuable commodity in the world. The slaves brought with them new ideas, foods, and languages that eventually influenced the culture and economy of the Americas.
Slavery also brought new diseases to the Americas. Native Americans were exposed to a variety of infectious diseases, and many of these were minor or even isolated infections. Some people contracted tuberculosis, pulmonary tuberculosis, two forms of syphilis, and arthritis.
Mann writes about the changed world after Columbus’ voyage in 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, a sequel to his 2006 pre-Columbian history, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. He tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross that almost nothing we consider locally grown was, in fact, native to the Americas.
“There’s absolutely nothing in my garden that originated within 1,000 miles of my house,” he says. “Tomatoes originated in Mexico. Basil came from Italy. Onions came from Europe. I live in Massachusetts. There’s absolutely nothing in there from New England.”
Going one better than Voltaire, Mann’s book opens in a garden as well as closes in one. The first is Mann’s own in Massachusetts; the second, a Filipino family plot in Bulalacao. Despite being half a world apart, the two gardens grow many of the same plants, hardly any of which are native to either place. This, Mann tells us, is the hallmark of the ecological era we live in: the “Homogenocene,” the Age of Homogeneity.