Exploration and Settlement

Christopher Columbus

Did the Europeans introduce anything besides disease to the Americas?

Yes, in addition to certain diseases, which were accidentally imported into the New World by the early Europeans, the explorers brought with them many things that were previously unknown in the Americas. When Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) landed at Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic in the Caribbean) in 1492, he carried with him horses and cattle. These were the first seen in the Western Hemisphere; the American Indians had no beasts of burden prior to the arrival of the Europeans. In subsequent trips, Europeans introduced horses and livestock (including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, and chickens) throughout South and North America. They later carried plants from Europe and the East back to the Americas, where they took hold. These included rice, sugar, indigo, wheat, and citrus fruits—all of which became established in the Western Hemisphere and became important crops during colonial times. With the exception of indigo (which was used as a fabric dye), these nonindigenous crops remain important to the countries of North and South America.


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