Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who is Christopher Columbus?

When you think of an explorer from the 15th century, or from any era, you would think of a brave, courageous, and respectful man. What about a man that discovers a new country? I would assume that a person with such an immense discovery would appreciate the beauty of the new environment and admire the way the natives lived with one another so peacefully. Instead Christopher Columbus saw this as too primitive and thought they would make great servants.

This was not the story I was told as a child. I thought Christopher Columbus was an honorable man, who did great things in his life. He made the biggest discovery of his time, but events that occurred following his discovery were not as noble.

Washington Irving tries to make up for the atrocities that occurred under Columbus's rule by saying that "he sought to colonize and and cultivate them, to civilize the natives, to build cities... and thus to found regular and prosperous empires." Why would someone want to build cities when the Aztec culture already had cities of their own? And according to Howard Zinn, Columbus writes in one of his letters about the Native Americans, "they are very simple and honest...they exhibit great love towards all others...they would make great servants." Why would a great explorer want to enslave such great people? Now Christopher Columbus a completely new person to me, not only did he discover The Americas, but he was also responsible for the disappearance of so many Native Americans.

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