What was the Columbian Exchange?
The Columbian Exchange was the biological exchange that took place between the Old and New Worlds during the Age of Discovery. From the Old World, the New World received vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, and corn. These crops increased longevity and birth rates in the Old World and helped to create the surplus population that would later go to the New World. The Old World also received tobacco from the Caribbean and Virginia. This cash crop would be quite valuable and soon became both a scourge (in terms of health benefits) and benefit (as currency) worldwide.
The New World received wheat from the Old World—a few grains of wheat at a Spanish mission would grow into a multi-million dollar granary for feeding the Spanish Empire. Cattle and hogs from the Old World destroyed native garden plots, leading to war between natives and whites. The New World also received diseases such as smallpox and diphtheria which would kill up to ninety percent of the Pre-Columbian population.