veryone has their own theory based on what the most important day in human history actually is. This isn’t something easy to define as there are no set criteria that defines the factors that would make it “the most important”. However, I believe that the factor of importance is based on how adversely different our world would be today if that specific event didn’t occur or if it would have occurred in a different manner or order.
Based on what I have read thus far since the first day I have ever picked up a piece of text, most historians are leaning towards the 12th of October 1492 as the most impactful day in history for quite an extensive list of factors. For those that do not know what this date represents, it is the day one of the sailors from ship Pinta (one of the three ships commanded by Christopher Columbus) discovered America.
Now it is not the exact event that makes the date so important, but the events that have followed due to this discovery and the way Coolumb first interacted with the natives. These events are known as the Columbian exchange which could have never taken place without the discovery of America and the approach Columbus took with the first interactions.
Best described as the largest process of biological globalization that helped restore the ecosystem which had been unbalanced since the last continental drift that took place millions of years ago. When the continental drift occurred, many species of animals, plants, and other organisms such as diseases were split making their survival and evolution more difficult. This is arguably the most important survival process in history.
From the transformation of social relations to the reformation of the ecosystem, it is really difficult to imagine how our world would have been if this process would have not begun in 1492. Although this process was started due to the discovery of America, it is a process that is still ongoing today making our world a better place step by step.
Since 1492 there has been a long exchange between the continents of the new world and the old world over 5 centuries. From plants, animals, people, technology, and diseases, to ideas that have been traded between these continents that helped bring the world together, slowly creating more peace around the world and most importantly acceptance between different cultures.
Plants and Vegetables
The most visible results from this exchange are definitely seen in American kitchens today. Many of the vegetables and herbs that are used not only in America but all around the world had one or only a few points of origin. Many of the vegetables that we eat today were actually imported for the first time from America and brought over oceans to Europe, Asia, and Africa to be grown in regions that were most favorable for the respective plant.
If you think that tomatoes originate from Italy just because they make the largest volume of pasta sauce you are quite wrong. Tomatoes actually originate from South America and besides tomatoes, there is a long list of others such as:
- Cacao plant
- Many others
On the other hand, American natives also received many plants from the other Continents so it was a mutual exchange, especially in different sections.
Americans today love to have a very large variety of animals at their disposal, but it was quite different about 500 years ago. Native Americans didn’t really know what cows, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, or boar pigs looked like until some had been brought from over the other side of the world to be seen.
In exchange, the rest of the world got one of the most adorable creatures in this world, guinea pigs that originate from South America that many people like to have as home pets and sadly also the second most used animals in test labs.
The exchange obviously had some bad parts for example, when Europe imported American minks, it almost led to the extinction of the European minks. Today the European mink is actually an endangered species. Nothing in this world can be perfect, but the world sure enjoyed turkey which originated from Central America.
Today you can find all these sorts of animals and (sorry vegans) meets available in farms and supermarkets, but 500 years ago people had to stick with what their land provided.
The worst part of this mutual exchange had to be the spread of diseases. Native Americans weren’t the hosts of many diseases compared to Europe, Asia, and Africa who had them all. Upon the constant change of the population in the early stages made mainly by European settlers, many diseases such as measles, influenza, typhus, smallpox, and whooping cough have been brought into the systems of native Americans.
Besides the many deaths that have occurred, this was a step that had to happen sooner or later with the integration of globalization and the more frequent international trade between continents. Although the exact origin of the diseases that have been mentioned above is still unknown, they weren’t present in America before Columbus’ expedition.
As you would expect, native America suffered from a lack of technology compared to the technological level of Europe. It is rumored that before the Columbian exchange, native Americans weren’t aware of the wheel. This is actually a big misconception that many historians make. Native Americans were aware of the wheel as well as carts, but before the Columbian exchange, they didn’t have any domesticated animal stock apart from Lamas that weren’t really made to pull carts.
The one thing they weren’t aware of whilst the rest of the world had their hands on was gunpowder. Many native Americas were referring to fire weapons as broomsticks because they didn’t understand the magic behind modern weapons.
The most important of them all in my opinion are ideas, concepts, and social norms which have crafted a civilized America. Native Americans didn’t have an economic system as they would still barter items to get what they want. The first settlers introduced to them the concept of money and how this can be used to create a more balanced civilization.
Another major introduction was the introduction to different religions and cultures that really opened the minds of Native Americans who got a different perspective on life, however, only a few chose to verge away from their original culture. It was very interesting for the first settlers to see the big difference within native American culture when it came to beliefs and the meaning of life.
The world as we know it today
There are plenty of other things that have been exchanged in the first five centuries. After this period the world was quite left out of things to exchange, but even today we still find small things around our planet that we bring to the world’s attention. Our world would not be the same if Columbus would have not taken those first few vital steps in offering gifts to the natives.
Based on this big process that was started by Columbus, I think that October 12, 1492, is the most important day in human history. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below and if you think there is an even more important date, let’s have a fruitful and friendly argument.