Columbus: A Great Discoverer or Villain Essay

This essay has a total of 1096 words and 5 pages.

Columbus: A Great Discoverer or Villain



Columbus: A Great Discoverer or Villain

A national holiday celebrating achievements of an individual reflects a nation's
appreciation for that person's deeds. Christopher Columbus's Day is an official national
holiday in the United States of America. However, a careful examination of Columbus'
expeditions and his methods of settlement in the so-called New World should change the
nation's opinion about the necessity of the holiday. In my way of thinking, Columbus'
arrival to the Indies has brought destruction and death. His motives, such as prosperity
by means of exploiting the native population, were immoral, and therefore I cannot accept
the idea of celebrating Columbus' Day as a National Holiday.

Columbus is credited with finding the new world, but did he really discover it? In my
opinion, it is not possible to discover land that was already there, occupied by native
people. When Columbus claimed to be a founder of the new land, he did not take in
consideration a very important aspect about the existing civilization, its customs and
traditions that were practiced in that area for thousands of years. Blinded by the idea of
prosperity, he ignored the moral beliefs and introduced slavery as a compensation of
promised numerous amounts of gold to the Spanish sovereigns. Irving Rouse, the author of
the book Tainos, states: "When the crown complained about the lack of income from the
colony, Columbus sent a shipload of captives to Spain to be sold as slaves in a desperate
attempt to satisfy that complaint" (Rouse p.151). This serves as a perfect example of how
low he thought of natives, not taking in consideration their right to live.

Having established goldmines throughout the colony, Columbus found it necessary to take
advantage of a local population, Tainos, as means of a cheap labor that was needed for
work in goldmines. Rouse states: "When Christopher Columbus returned to Hispaniola in the
summer of 1498, he placated Roldan by authorizing him to seize Indians in the chiefdom of
Xaragua and divide them among his followers to use as forced laborers at the goldfields."
(p.153) In his point of view, Taino people deserved to be treated in such a manner,
because they constantly rebelled against his rule, not realizing the fact that he was the
one that intruded their way of life and caused so many innocent people to suffer. The
reason for such devastating treatment of the natives is Columbus' lack of administrative
ability. His poor work as an administrator and desperate will to prosper from "the
discovered land" caused a significant decrease in Taino population. Rouse points out:
"According to some reports, more than forty thousand Lucayan Tainos were removed from
those islands between 1509 and1513, causing a complete depopulation." (p.156) The
conditions at which natives were forced to work were devastating and life threatening. The
percent rate of survival in Columbus' goldmines is said to be less than in Hitler's
concentration camps. (Hoeller) Therefore, it is fare to say that Columbus introduced
genocide. Michael S. Berliner who supports Columbus' accomplishments sarcastically states:
"Columbus is routinely vilified as a symbol of slavery and genocide, and the celebration
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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