Columbus - Friend Or Foe


Explore, discover and develop or seek, destroy and conquer. Almost everyone recognizes the name Christopher Columbus and understands what his role was in changing the views, lifestyles, politics, and geography of the fifteenth century modern world. Christopher Columbus discovered a world known to no European, African or Asian. He discovered the ?New World?, the Americas. However, is today's society aware of the consequences, which came with this newfound world or are they blinded by biased history books and school texts. My view of Christopher Columbus and his glorious discovery was a traditional one. Columbus, the ?great explorer?, heroically discovered the Americas making friends with the natives creating a new way of life for the entire world. I am sorry to say that I was misguided in my education about Christopher Columbus.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451 the son of a weaver and by the time he reach his late teenage years he went to sea and voyaged for many years trading for various employers in Genoa, Italy. His work eventually took him to England in 1477 and West Africa in 1482. About this time he began to seek financial support for a major Atlantic expedition. Most writers and philosophers, along with Columbus, had accepted that the Earth was round, and so Columbus understood that China and Japan could be reached by sailing west. His idea was logical, but not factual. Columbus didn't count on there being giant landmasses between the two, which was never explored by anyone outside of the Eastern Hemisphere.
For some years Columbus failed to obtain support for a transatlantic expedition but in March 1492 the catholic monarchs of Spain, Isabella and Ferdinand, approved his voyage and awarded him the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and the governorship of any new land he might discover. He set sail in August 1492 with his fleet of three ships and one hundred men and made landfall in the Bahamas, October 1492.
Prior to my revised education about Christopher Columbus, the preceding two paragraphs about his pre-discovery are just about the same in both histories, however from the moment he steps foot on land is where they conflict. My original views of how he handled his discovery probably matched a majority of the population's. In 1492 Christopher Columbus made a famous mistake as he discovered America. Unaware of the existence of America, he believed that his ships landed at the Spice Islands near India and named the islands the Indies and their people the Indians. Christopher Columbus, in my eyes was a brave, brilliant, great explorer. I viewed him as a man second to none, especially because I share the same ethnic background with him.
When I first entered this class I wondered why we were going to learn about a hero like Columbus when everyone knows of him and his journey. However, after reading Zinn's shocking depiction of history and Columbus' conquest of the ?New World?, it shed a new light on an old tale. Upon his discovery and his interaction with the natives, which he called Indians, Columbus recognized opportunity for him and the Kingdom that he represented. ?They (the Indians) should be made to work, farm and live like us.? Columbus wrote in his letter to Isabella and Ferdinand. Columbus used their good, trusting nature to take their land and enslave them to find gold and work on plantations killing any Indian who opposed him. He and most Europeans felt that their own culture was far better and usually described Indians as savages. Columbus' men acted as if they were rulers of a kingdom or gods of a new world and had no mercy, sometimes brutally killing Indian men and children for fun and raping the women. They brought disease, famine and death to millions of people who were peaceful, giving and loving.
My view of Christopher Columbus is no longer the one I grew up with, but it is one of embarrassment, disgust and abhorrence. I have always thought that Columbus explored the world, discovering America to develop the advancement of the human race, peacefully. Now I know that he searched for a new way to make money destroying the Native American's life, conquering all.