The Columbian Exchange Massive Impact on Trading

After Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas in 1492, America will become a powerhouse of trade and industry. The Columbian Exchange was the beginning of American industry due to fact that it’s fundamentals was The New World (Americas) trading with the Old World (Europe and Asia) and therefore starting trade between the two halves of the world. With the new trade this will lead to the colonization of the Americas and the Revolutionary War which inspired industry growth. Without the Columbian Exchange the industry and economy in America would have not grown as fast as it did lead up to the Civil War, which took place in 1865, and by the time the Civil War happened America had already had its first industrial revolution that begun in 1790. With the Columbian Exchange it was a focal point in later inventions because of the established trade Columbus installed in America.

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The Colombian Exchange first began in 1492 when Columbus discovered the Americas, this exchange was responsible for economic growth, new ideas, food sources and disease. This stared the trade between the Eastern and Western Hemisphere, which lead to the industrialization of America due to the goods the Eastern hemisphere traded with. For example, some crops and livestock America received back in the 15th century are now some of America’s leading revenue. Though bringing disease, the risk was necessary in order to bring the Western Hemisphere into the 15th century technologies. On the positive side of things ideas were traded and some of those ideas helped economy grow in the Eastern Hemisphere which lead Europeans want to colonize America. The Columbian Exchange has fundamentals of modern economy and trade.

Fast forward to the 18th century; the start of the industrial revolution. America has been colonized by Britain and the fight for independence had taken place. While independence was being fought for, industry in America had begun to grow. In 1775 the first reliable steam engine was invented by James Watt; the purpose of the steam engine was to get water out of mines but by improving his steam engine over the course of fifteen years, the engine had more of a purpose then just getting water out of mines. With his improvements the engine could be ran constantly, for shaping and strengthening metals, and turn machinery at mills; making the machine very versatile and highly usable for many people. It was because of Watts invention the Industrial Revolution moved at such a quick pace because it became a new source of power. Instead of everything being ran on coal his machine turned water into steam, in turn would produce energy. This idea was revolutionary at the time because of the easy access to water which would be used to power mills, mines, and later new inventions. Watt’s ideas will later be used to continue the growth of industrialization in America.

The American Industrial revolution is often credited to Samuel Slater who is the founder of the American cotton-textile industry. He opened the first successful cotton mill in 1790 that was water-powered. Slater is considered the father of factories. Before Slater came to America and the opening of his successful mills; America was falling behind in the Industrial Revolution because Britain had strict laws prohibiting the plans of spinning wheels to come to America. Slater took his knowledge about spinners and factories and came to America. He allowed cotton to be mass produced and spun. With the textile industry growing rapidly, this made the price of cotton cloth greatly reduced; making it a large export in America. Due to the new factories it made cotton the new cash crop in the South. This contributed for the need of slaves to help keep up with the demand of cotton. Samuel Slater received financial help from Moses Brown for the start of the mill. Both Slater and Brown became affiliated with the term of Father of the American Industrial Revolution since Slater played such a major role of industrializing mills and machines to mass produce goods. The mills were placed all over the Northeastern region such as: New England, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Slater and Brown started the American Industrial Revolution and would leave their mark on the advancement of the textile industry.

Next in American Industrial Revolution progress is the Cotton Gin invented by Eli Whitney. His invention was a catalyst in the civil war, the cotton gin was most popular in the south. The cotton gin was able to remove the cotton seeds from cotton balls at a much quicker pace then the slaves working on the farms could. With this invention cotton became the cash crop of the Deep South. When farmers saw how much money they could make with the help of the cotton gin they bought more slaves, in turn created more slaveowners but more revenue for the south. Whitney was from Massachusetts, he visited the south and came up with a solution for the increasing cotton demand. Harvesting took too long and too much manual labor, which caused cottons price to be higher due to how labor intensive it was. Some blame this machine for the institutionalizing of slavery; slavery at the time was being to decrease but once farm owners and slaveowners saw the marvels the cotton gin could accomplish there was a boom of slaves being bought. This didn’t help rising tensions between the north and south because this helped industrialize the south. The south was more agriculture than factories; finally, this as the south’s way of gaining more economic freedom and stability.

With industrialization moving at a fast pace there had to be a new way of transporting goods, thus Robert Fulton helped create the Steamboat in 1807 for commercial use. Applying the same principles as James Watt’s steam engine, Fulton and his partner behind the steamboat, Robert Livingston, created an efficient way of transporting good up and down rivers across America mainly the Mississippi that had large profit and business. The steamboat had a substantial effect on the Industrial Revolution; the steamboat allowed cities to grow at rapid rate due to commercial trading between states; this lessened the need for self-sufficiency. With the steamboat supplies were arriving faster and exports were being shipped faster which really helped the new American economy. This helped in the Civil War to help get supplies to troops. This invention of commercially built steamboats boosted the economy for streamline trading. This also made cities lining the Mississippi boom with business because of the commercial use. Without the steamboat modern marketplace would be largely different.

One invention that has had the biggest impact on the modern world is the Telegraph developed by Samuel Morse in between the 1830s and 1840s. Samuel Morse developed the idea after hearing about electromagnet and thought he could come up with a machine that communicated between far distances. He partnered with a colleague who was a chemist at New York University naked Leonard Gale; he also partnered with Alfred Vail who was a friend of Morse and contributed to the development of the telegraph. This was a significant invention because it allowed for communication from great distance be obtained in a short amount of time. The telegraph played a major role in the Civil War since is how President Lincoln was able to communicate to the battlefield front in real time. It became a disadvantage to the south from the lack of a strong communication line that took place in real time, which made communication from the battlefield very weak and had to wait a long period before sharing information to the Confederate capital. With this Lincoln would give orders directly to generals, battlefield reports and held meetings with generals out in the war zone. They communicated through Morse code which is a system a series of characters and dashes representing words or letters. It was also used later in the 20th century during the World Wars to keep information out of the enemy’s hands. The telegraph is important to modern day because it was the start of modern communication such as telephones, radios and other technologies. The wires became a starting point in America for the future of telephone wires that now lace all around America. This invention was critical for the advancement of our country because it helped the north win against the confederates. For the first time in history, people could communicate between large distances to obtain real time information which was critical to winning the war.

In summary, the Columbian Exchange started a revolution that would leave an impact for hundreds of years and forever change the world. Without the beginning trade of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres many of the inventions that progressed America into the modern world of industry and economy. It led to the invention of the steam engine, multiple factories, the cotton gin, the steamboat, and the telegraph; without these machines modern technology wouldn’t be where it is today.  

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The Columbian Exchange Massive Impact On Trading. (2021, May 31). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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