Discovery Story of America
”’What right had the first discoverers of America to land, and take possession of a country, without asking the consent of its inhabitants, or yielding them an adequate compensation for their territory?’” said Washington Irving (Bodenner). Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy and is known for finding America while sailing the ocean blue looking for a trade route to Asia.
After his first voyage to America, he took 3 more journeys to America before he died on May 20, 1506, Valladolid, Spain. Christopher Columbus was an European explorer that should be remembered as a macabre villain in our history because he was driven by wealth and power, he mistreated the Native Americans by the use of violence, and set treacherous precedents for the conquistadors upcoming. Columbus was an acquisitive man who desired to gain riches more than anything else and strived for his own glory.
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Antonio de Montesinos, one of the first Spanish Dominican Friars in New World, said ”’Why do you so greatly oppress and fatigue them…so that you may extract and acquire gold every day?’”(Bodenner). Montesinos was known for his sermon against colonists who enslaved natives for gold. From his quote, we can say that Columbus was so desperate for gold that he manipulates the indigenous to obtain gold for him. Critics of Columbus claimed that he killed and traded slaves for the desire to gain wealth and personal glory (Bodenner).
He didn’t just obtain and kill one or two of the native slave for gold. Bodenner also wrote, “His men kill and enslave thousands of Amerindians in their search for gold and a western passage to Asia.” Columbus shows that he is desperate for gold to be using thousands of man to search for it. Additionally, it is written,” Columbus also terrorized, tortured, and killed them. At one point in time, Columbus sent five hundred men into the hills to search for gold”(Dewitt).
According to the quote, we can conclude that from his desire for gold he retreated torturing men into finding gold for him. For more proof against Columbus’s intentions, it is written by Bodenner, “Columbus and his European successors were invaders, intention expanding their empires and acquiring natural resources such as gold and silver no matter what the price.”
According to the quote, you can deduce that Columbus is obsessed with attaining wealth from the fact that he would give up anything for it. His intentions were only selfish since money was all he cared about. As a primary source, Columbus even said himself that riches were valuable to him.
He wrote, “I was speaking of the gold, pearls, precious stones, and spices, with the trade and markets in them, and because everything did not appear immediately, I was held up to abuse” (Columbus Writes about His Exploration of Central America (Excerpt)). He himself admitted that if the “precious riches” were not given to him immediately, he would abuse the Natives. If Columbus, a primary source to what happened admits that he would abuse to get riches, it is credible to conclude that he was an evil man who wanted wealth for his own glory. Further, into Columbus’s violence, he committed unexcusable crimes and cruelty against the Natives. To start off, “Columbus was blind as those who came after him, and he was so anxious to please the king that he committed irreparable crimes against the Indians” (Bodenner).
Bodenner claim explains that Christopher Columbus’s desires are the reason why he committed crimes. Antonio de Montesinos once said, “‘On the account of the cruelty and tyranny that you practice on these innocent people. Tell me, by what right or justice do you hold these Indians in such cruel and horrible slavery’” (Bodenner).
Columbus gave no mercy towards the Indians and he shouldn’t have authority over them. The Indigenous had their own civilized groups and didn’t require Columbus to rule as a tyrant over them. Las Casas, a Spanish missionary and historian, also known as an Apostle for the Indians, who was accompanying Columbus, noted on the Natives, “‘Not only have (the Indians) shown themselves to be very wise people… they have equaled many diverse nations of the world… praised for their governance politics and customs.’” (Bodenner).
Las Casas saw firsthand that the Indians were knowledgable, equal to Europeans, and was capable of governing themselves. The evidence against Columbus proves that he wasn’t leading and helping uncoordinated people, he was oppressing over respectable nations that have the ability to lead themselves.