To what extent the Columbian exchange changed economic systems and labor systems in Europe and the Americans
Author : Jordan Liu
St. George’s School, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Following the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492, the Columbian Exchange spread food crops, ideas, populations, metals, and diseases between Europe and the Americas. While the Columbian Exchange led to the establishment of European trade posts, colonies, and plantations to exploit the raw materials of the Americas, it also spread new diseases to native communities and caused great social disruptions. Because various diseases devastated native economies and European colonizers introduced the labour system of plantation slavery in the Americas, this essay argues that the Columbian Exchange caused more changes to the economies and labour systems in the Americas instead of Europe, while it sparked a turning point away from feudalism towards industrial capitalism in the latter.