World History Essay – unintended consequence of the Columbian Exchange

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1.  Write an essay on one unintended consequence of the
Columbian Exchange. To begin, read the examples of actions and consequences
below, and note how each consequence was intended or unintended.

Action

Consequence

Intended/Unintended/Both

Some European sailors and conquistadors have smallpox.

Sailors come in contact with Native
Americans, who contract the disease and die after infecting their relatives
and neighbors, who continue to spread the disease.

Unintended: Europeans did
not intentionally infect Native Americans with diseases.

Europeans bring rice and wheat with them and plant the crops in
the New World.

Rice and wheat become important crops in many parts of North
America.

Intended: Europeans
intended to grow rice and wheat in the New World to supplement the native
crops.

Europeans take potatoes from the New World back to Europe.

Potatoes become an important crop, so much so that some European
countries begin to depend on them as their main food source.

Both:

Intended: Europeans
intended to grow potatoes in Europe to supplement the native crops.

Unintended: Some European
countries became overly dependent on the potato as a food source.

Affluent Europeans buy sugar from merchants in European cities.

Millions of people in Africa are kidnapped by African slave
traders and sold to European sugar cane planters in the Caribbean.

Unintended: The demand
for sugar in Europe became so great that sugar cane growers needed more
workers to tend crops. They expanded the slave trade that had started in
Africa and brought slaves to the Americas to tend the crops.

Spanish
conquistadors bring horses with them to the New World.

Some
horses escape. Native Americans catch the horses and learn to ride and train
them. They become expert horsemen.

Unintended: At first
Native Americans were afraid of horses, but they soon saw their value and
learned to use them to their benefit.

Europeans
bring cattle with them to the New World.

Cattle
ranches become a profitable business and beef becomes a major American food
source.

Intended: Europeans
intended to raise cattle in the New World to supplement native sources of
meat.

Conduct Research, Choose a Topic, and Write a Thesis
Statement

Conduct
some online exploration to find more consequences of the Columbian Exchange,
and decide whether they are intended or unintended. Choose one unintended
consequence that you found or one of the examples listed above and do in-depth
research on it. Gather details such as
locations or countries, key people, populations involved, and ways in which the
unintended consequence can be seen many years or even centuries later. Then,
write the consequence in the form of a question, such as, “How did the
introduction of the horse to the New World change the lives of Native
Americans?”

Use
the question to formulate a thesis statement for your essay. The thesis
should answer the question. Using the sample question above, the thesis would
be, “Plains Indians domesticated horses from Europe. They became famous for
their skill in hunting and fighting from horseback.” Write your thesis statement in one or two clear
sentences.

Write Your Essay

Write
an essay that supports your thesis statement. Include details such as locations
or countries, key people, populations involved, and ways in which the
unintended consequence can be seen many years or even centuries later.

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