COLUMBUS DAY

  • Category: American History
  • Words: 1122
  • Grade: 95



        As discussed in class, there has recently been developed a different way of look at the man who "discover America". In the book Columbus: His Enterprise Exploding the Myth, written by Hans Koning, he takes a different and more ideological approach. The author describes the Columbus that brought change upon the Native, unlike the traditional approach we in the United State celebrate his landings. The Columbus brought sin and genocide among other things. In this book I have found that there is another side of Columbus that is easily overlooked due to his reputation of "Admiral of the Sea". The book also shows the reason for some of the cultural and governmental aspects of the New World.
First, in class we have learned of the four voyages of Columbus, but Koning goes on a limb to emphasize reason for the exposition. Columbus did this out of pure selfishness he wanted to become rich and he was not going to give up on this opportunity to cash in big. It is not true that he was the first to think of the passage and in this time "...there was no educated man or woman who did not know that the world was round." The book illustrates the he waited around for about two years so the king and queen wood give him what he requested, 1/10 of the wealth for himself and his heirs and his titles of Admiral of the sea and viceroy. It is true that his ambition drove him to this great discovery as well as some good luck. Since he left from Spain the northeast tradewinds blew his ship into Central America, for if it were not for Spain Portugal would have discover America themselves. On the trip Spanish were scared to not be able to reach land but, Koning implies that ""¦our heart should (have) bleed for the people of the Caribbean, whose destiny was hanging in the balance (of) those fateful day." It is true that from the time the Spanish arrived they began to degrade the existing culture. In class we discuss the second voyage the one of settlement but instead could we call it that one of disaster. The only establishment built was that of race, which no matter what type of generosity the Indians showed they were considered savages. Koning goes on to blame the whole thing on Columbus because he was the one that realized the opportunity to take advantage of the natives. As stated in the book Ferdinand and Isabella want the second voyage to be that of "well and lovingly" with the Indians.
        When it was time to send back good dividend from the New World he saw two ways to increase his countries' wealth, gold and slaves. In response the Indians began massive suicides. In addition to the diseases discussed in class the population began to disintegrate. In the book the only think that Koning emphazises more is the insanity that Columbus portrays saying that God himself told him to look for the gold mines. In class we did not discuss this drive for his wealth, we did not mention that he was caught up the pursuit for riches so much and that he had "gold fever"
        Next, the author point out that figure of Columbus that we are traditionally brought up to praise is just an image. He points out that there is no way for sure to prove his appearance, and whether he really had those beautiful sky, blue eyes. And Koning explains that all he is an image, that the real Columbus was a selfish, greedy individual. He took credit for being the first to discover the New World although he did not know what it really was and he was not the first to see it.
        Sure, naturally we may try to condemn his actions by saying he was a product of his time but let take a further look. If this were true he would realized the inhumanity, as many of his time acknowledged, like Antonio de Montesinos. He did not though instead he assimilated the cast system of his mother country. Although he often make references to the Bible he does not acknowledge his wrong doing and this comes to suggest that he may not be the great man that we celebrate October 12 for.
        Instead he established his persistence that is still use today in some countries, the form of encomindas. This curse of tribute and mechanism is still operant in some Latin American countries. But "all the gold and silver stolen and shipped to Spain did not make the Spanish people richer. It gave their kings and edge in the balance of power for a time, a chance to hire more mercenary solider for their wars. They ended up losing those wars, anyway, and all that was left was a deadly inflation, a starving population, the rich richer, the poor poorer, and a ruined peasant class." It turned out to be a waste the genocide the he began in turn for nothing, but probably the only thing was the new races, that of Spanish and Indian blood, the mestizo. The product although beautiful to Hispanic cannot replace the true roots that the natives could pass on.
        Moreover, this book was written in 1991 at the time when the new approach is taken to consider the people of past. I like the way the author touches each voyage with his background on the topic. It definitely alerts the reader that ambiguity is sometimes too much, like that of Macbeth. Also, I definitely see what would drive a man to write a book like this, his is tired of us (Americans) being brought up portraying Columbus in a fairytale fashion. I believe we are in an age of liberalism, this is why he shows his outlook on the topic. No matter how great the land he discovered, there is not replacing the beautiful culture and people who he practically single-handed brought an end to.
        In conclusion, I think the book is an interesting book and it brought me to take another perspective about the people who I will look at in heroic figure. It can be looked at as a political purpose, but I think it is geared to inform people that sometimes facts and proportions are not considered. I will still consider Christopher Columbus a great adventure, but I might be a little more reluctant to call him hero.
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