Historical Essay

Historical Essay

Christopher Columbus

The Impact of his Discovery of a New World

Garette K. Gilliam

History 1301

Professor Francoise Bonnel

November 1, 2007
Gilliam 2

What Christopher Columbus did on the morning of October 12th, 1492 was not

discover a new world but instead put two different worlds into a state of permanent

contact that will never be broke. His discovery set in motion a chain of events that

were both beneficial and harmful for both the people of the New and Old Worlds. (3)

When Columbus returned to Europe was it a coincidence that there was a sudden

outbreak of syphilis? Did members of his own crew catch this disease and bring it back to

Spain where it was spread quickly throughout Europe? Along with his discovery of new

land came the discovery of new disease. By finding his way to the New World this

opened the door for the expansion of commercial travel between the two lands. With

this travel came patterns of several epidemic diseases, one of which was syphilis. (1)

This sharing of diseases worked both ways. While the above paragraph mentions

the theory that diseases such as syphilis originated in the New World and were passed on

to the Old World by Columbus and his crew it’s a fact that more diseases originated in

Europe and were brought over by European settlers. Waves of smallpox, measles,

influenza, bubonic plague, diphtheria, cholera, scarlet fever, chicken pox, yellow fever

and whooping cough hit the New World upon the arrival of the Europeans. The

population in North America in the early 1500’s was believed to be in the range of 2 to

18 million people. Due to infectious diseases that number had shrunk to about 500,000 by

the end of the 19th century. (1)

We have learned that diseases were spread from the New World to Old and vice

versa. When infectious disease spread from Europe to America why did it kill so many

people? It’s because they did not have time to avoid...

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