The Columbian Exchange


By definition, the Colombian exchange was a period that involved both biological and cultural exchanges that happened between the New and the Old Worlds. Notably, there were exchanges of animals, diseases, plants, and the Native American way of life and the technology transformed European life. In general, the exchange impacted both the cultural and social makeup of the two sides of the Atlantic. Moreover, it led to the evolution of warfare, increased mortality rates, education, and the Agricultural advancements on both the Native Americans side and the Europeans side.

Influenza in Columbian Exchanges

By description, it is a respiratory illness that is caused by a virus and is also known as Flu. Unfortunately, flu is a highly contagious disease that is spread when an infected person coughs or even sneezes or when the person is touched like handshaking. Further, its symptoms are nausea, vomiting, headache, joint pain, the congested mucous membrane in the nose and throat, tiredness, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Inopportunely, it lacks medication and can an infected person is only able to reduce the impacts of the symptoms like a headache by the use of painkillers. However, the infected may suppress the flu through bed rest and fluid drinking. In the Columbian Exchange, the Europeans had developed immunity to flu as opposed to the Native Americans. Inconveniently, when the Europeans sneezed, the contagious disease spread to the Natives. In essence, the virus came from the Europeans colonists and explorers who contacted the Natives through greetings. Moreover, it is also stipulated that the disease could have been spread by the pigs, hens, and horses that were transported on the same ship. In fact, the pigs are suspected to have been flu’s origin and intermediary hosts for the genetic recombination of the other viral subtypes. Besides, in the second New World Columbian expedition, birds are deemed to have played a role in the epidemiology of the disease while on that second trip.

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Pointedly, influenza significantly impacted the Columbian Exchange. First, it led to the death of very many crew member who was traveling by the ships. Secondly, the survivors in the ships resulted in the spread of influenza in the Americas. Markedly, it also led to the death of several Native Americans since they were not resistant to the disease. Noticeably, the death of the Natives resulted in many of their villages perishing because the illness spread fast and killed all people in some of the villages. After that, the European settlers took over the lands whose owners had died of the disease and practiced farming of the crops they brought from Europe such as the wheat, rice, barley, and oats.

Intentionally, the disease was also used by the Europeans to their advantage during wars like the French and Indian war. The death of the Natives reduced their number substantially making it easy for the Europeans to win the battles they fought against them. Moreover, due to its fast spreading, several other Natives who were in the war were already infected and could not withstand the conditions of the war or deliver as required in the fight against the Europeans. Therefore, influenza aided the European in their invasion of the Americas significantly. In fact, it is opinionated that the infection fastened the Columbian Exchanges since, after the reduction of the Natives in number, more Europeans came to the Americas. Moreover, the Europeans encountered less opposition in the Americas; it led to more imports and exports of different goods.



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Edward Winslow, Nathaniel Morton, William Bradford, and Thomas Prince: New England’s Memorial (Cambridge: Allan and Farnham, 1855), 362.

T. Grennes.: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. 2012

(American Journal of Agricultural Economics), 1493.

William Bradford, Samuel E. Morison: Of Plymouth Plantation (New York: Knopf, 1952), 271.