Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cash Crops for a "Great Dying"?

The Columbian Exchange is the exchange of disease, ideas, food crops, population, (people and animals) and cultures between the New World and the Old World after the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492.  It began after Columbus sailed across the ocean and discovered new pieces of land that would soon be named North America and South America.  Columbus brought back to Spain gold and spices, as well as Native Americans, to show the King and Queen of Spain that his discovery of land was rich and the men there would be easy to conquer.  As a result, Europeans started making their way over to the Americans and soon there became a trade route between the Old and New World known as the Columbian Exchange.  The Old World consists of Europe, Asia and Africa and the New World consists of North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.  The mutual trades between the Old and New World were knowledge, food, flowers/plants and people, but extra things the Old World gave to the New World were animals and diseases.  The animals helped the natives in the Americas, but the diseases not so much.  The New World got crops from the Old World that would help benefit them, and the Old World got diseases that they would suffer from.
A reason why the Columbian Exchange is sometimes called the “Unequal Exchange” is because the New World benefited a lot more the the Old World.  The New World got cash crops from the Columbian Exchange.  Cash crops are crops that are in high demand, and people will pay a lot of money for certain crops, such as sugar and tobacco.  Cash crops are produced for their value rather than for their use by the grower and go to direct sale.  The New World gained wealth and power while the old World suffered from the diseases the Europeans brought over when they traded.  Another benefit the New World got was slaves to work for them on their fields when the Old and New World traded.  This was known as the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Slavery had existed before this in the New world with Europeans captured in war, and it was also practiced in Africa among different tribes, but this was the first of trading across ocean for people to serve as slaves, and it wasn't an option.  The New World benefited a lot more from the Columbian Exchange than the Old World, and that’s why it’s also known as the “Unequal Exchange”.

The “Unequal Exchange” between the New World and the Old World made the New World suffer a lot more than the Old World.  Something that the Old World brought over to the New World were fatal diseases that the natives in the New World weren’t immune to.  These diseases had a very large impact on the population because many people got diseases and died.  And if you tried to help someone who was sick, you eventually also got sick.  There were not enough people to work in the fields and the food supply decreased.  It’s said that before the Europeans came over, the New World’s population in the Americas was larger than the Old World’s.  They had densely populated villages surrounded by wooden fences for a system of defense, but once the Europeans came over with diseases, everything came to a dead stop.  Typical Native American societies lost about 90% of their population after Columbus’s expeditions and the Europeans coming over to the New World.  This major decrease in population is known as the “Great Dying” because a lot of the population died from diseases.  This is why the New World suffered more than the Old World and why the Columbian Exchange is also known as the “Unequal Exchange”.
The Columbian Exchange between the New World and the Old World was also referred to as the “Unequal Exchange” because the New World benefited more and the Old World suffered more.  The New World benefited because they traded for crops called cash crops which were highly priced and from which people got wealthy. The New World suffered because of the diseases Europeans brought over that the Natives weren’t immune to, so many people died and the population decreased drastically.  Native American societies lost 90% of their population- this is called the “Great Dying”.  If the exchange was unequal between the Natives and the Europeans, why did people of the New World still make trades with the Old World?

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