Christopher Columbus has been a celebrated hero in America for centuries, so much so there is even a holiday celebrating his discovery of America. Not only is he seen as the person who discovered America by most of the population, he is seen as an Italian American symbol of pride for his accomplishments. Columbus is viewed by many Americans in a positive and heroic light. However he was not always idolized as a great adventurer and navigator throughout his life.
Born in the Kingdom of Genoa in 1451 to a poor peasant family Columbus was not given an outstanding education. However moving to Portugal, he was greatly influenced by the many great Portuguese travelers and adventurers. Many of these voyagers went to islands in the atlantic and traded with Africans, Indians, and Asians. They were able to find Asia but discovering the Indian Ocean which was on the eastern coast of Africa. It was told that the men who voyaged to these foreign lands often found many riches such as gold, silver, and spices. The talk of these riches interested Columbus and inspired him to want to obtain these riches.
However, what made him different from any other sailor was that he was going to experiment going to Asia on a theoretical route. There was a theory at the time that stated that the world was a lot smaller than expected and by going straight across the Atlantic you could hit India. When Columbus proposed going this alternate route to the King and Queen of Portugal they refused to fund his trip with ships and men. Columbus went to England and France after but they also turned him down.
Finally he went to Spain whom gave him 3 ships and men to fund his voyage. The trip to “India” was much longer than expected infact it was so long his own men were ready to throw him overboard. Finally he reached land that he expected to be Japan but what was actually an island of the archipelago of the bahamas. He traded with the natives of the island and addressed them as Indians being that he expected them to be Indians because he thought he was in Asia the entire time. He named the Island he docked on San Salvador and sailed back to Spain with his findings from the New World. When he returned to Spain the King and Queen were not very satisfied with what he found. Therefore they sent him back with 17 ships in aspirations to found and find glory, god, and gold.
Columbus docked in Hispaniola in 1493 with his 17 ships. He returned with the thoughts and aspirations of a hero. But in facts he was far from being any type of hero in his new found lands. He pressured them for their gold and emptied any gold mines they had, no matter how much gold he had found it was never enough. He made Natives surrender any gold in their possession if they did not find enough he would cut off their hand and leave it dangling by lumps of skin. Some Native try to revolt against his brutality and he hung them and burned them on stakes.
Even with all the gold he chopped off th desperately gripping hands of the natives he did not think it was satisfying enough for the King and Queen. Therefore Columbus forced hundreds of thousands of Native into Spanish slavery. “Columbus makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent,”. Many historians believe that Columbus’s crimes against the Natives makes him one of the worst murderers of all time. Yet in our modern day and for years now he has been celebrated as the “hero who found America.”
The annual holiday Columbus Day in America is celebrated nationwide. Kids are given a day off from school and there are parades in larger cities such as New York. The parades are mostly funded and marched by Italian Americans who see Columbus as a heroic Italian Idol for discovering America. Over the years historians have found many issues with the celebration of this holiday. One of these issues being Columbus never actually landed on American soil he only landed in the Caribbean believing he was in India and he is labeled by many as a great navigator.
Not only is his being of a “great navigator” is seen false by many historians in our modern day but it is also the fact that he even gets any credit for “discovering” islands in the Caribbean. The definition of discover is to be the first to find something or some place, therefore by definition Columbus did not even discover the Caribbean let alone the American continent. All of the credit for the discovery of America falsely goes to a man that never even set foot on the continent.
Many historians believe that the credit should rightfully go to the Natives “All of us have been socialized to be racists and benefit from racism constantly,” Christine Slater laments in the journal Multicultural Education. “The very locations on which our homes rest should rightfully belong to Indian nations. (arc of history.org)” Columbus was a brutal start to a very rocky road for the Natives of the Americas. Since 1493 the Natives have been pushed from their lands, enslaved, sickened, and slaughtered by European nations such as France, England, Spain, and many others. As Francis Jennings writes in The Invasion of America, “The Europeans did not settle a virgin land. They invaded and displaced a native population.”
Throughout the centuries Columbus has been viewed as a mastered navigator and discoverer of new lands. He has been idolized for many voyagers that came after him. He also began a very large trade route between the Americas, Europe, and Africa named the Columbian Exchange established in the 16th century. It involved many fruits, vegetables, cattle, and eventually led to the spread of slavery and diseases.
The Columbian Exchange named after Columbus because he “discovered” the Americas was a trade route that led to a prolonged use of slave labor in the Americas that lasted into the early 19th century. Not only were Columbus’s crimes against humanity brutal and immoral but his actions led to led to a lasting age of crimes against humanity.
Africans and Natives were made slaves and not only that Natives endured abuse from many different ruling white supremacist governments through ages. One of these being the trail of tears that took place in southern North America during the Jackson administration. He forced hundreds of thousands of native Americans out of there homes onto Indian reservations in Oklahoma so that white Americans could create more “civilized towns” on top of what would be there ruins. Another example is the civil war of the United States, the main cause of the war was whether or not America should abolish slavery.
The war went on for years and eventually slavery was abolished. But historians question the fact that would all of this had happened if Columbus did not arrive to the new world with brutal and greedy intentions. Columbus was a part of the beginning of the slave trade by enslaving the native people and forcing them out of their homes and stealing their possessions. Would people still have had such an abusing superior attitude towards the natives if Columbus did not start it off? Historian’s believe that
Columbus’s brutality against the natives was probably among the first to happen and that he could have been a reason that all who came after treated them so harshly. Columbus is no hero of the seas he is in fact a cruel murdering thief who should have never set sail being that his navigation skills were also depressingly poor being that he thought he was in India after three journeys to the America’s and still could not figure it out.
Columbus’s is celebrated as a hero every year and historians do believe that his holiday should be abolished given that his crimes against humanity were so atrocious. Columbus’s tortured natives so cruelly to the point where babies were being smashed against rocks and adults were being hung by straw and being burned by their feet. His crimes against human life reach so many levels of disgust and should not be celebrated in any way at all. In fact they should be demoted and historians agree that children should be taught the truth about Columbus and that he was a murderer and a thief and also the fact that he never actually set foot on North American soil.
For years Italian Americans have been celebrating Columbus’s “discovery” of the American continent falsely and by parading his false navigation they are demoting the height of his negligent crimes. Celebrating Columbus Day is telling the American public that true history is irrelevant and we should follow the false tradition of how it has always been. By following this and keeping the holiday is given him an undeserved positive recognition and is dishonoring the many lives he took in his new colonies. He committed brutal crimes against humanity and deserves to be shamed by modern society not honored by it.
Columbus was a poor navigator and a cruel man and his discovery of the new world should only be seen in a negative light being that there was so much savagery against the innocent native people afterwards.