The Voyage of Christopher Columbus
When colonizers conquered new land, they frequently had tiny concern for the people living in the new land, and for existing cultures. Indigenous populations that once existed as a separate identity were forced to assimilate into the new European culture. One example of this occurrence is the Spanish exploration of the Americas. The voyage of Christopher Columbus was the catalyst for several centuries of exploration, the first encounter between the New World and Old World was triggered by his voyage. By command of the Spanish monarch, conquistadors ensured the foreign expansion of Spanish land into the Americas. The foreign land was incorporated into the Spanish Empire, and the Spanish monarch gave complete control to the colonists as long as they filled in their quota to the crown. One of the incentives for Spanish colonization was the spread of Christianity, resources and trade. At the same time however, the indigenous population was annihilated and subjugated. The impact of Spanish colonialism brought many civil distresses to the Americas and later manifested itself in present day.
When The Kingdom of Spain gained the Americas, they exploited the land to gain gold and silver, in order to enhance their personal power. Columbus wrote in his diary “All of them go around as naked as their mothers bore them…I believe that they would become Christians easily, for it seemed to me that they had no religion”. In addition to Columbus viewing the Indigenous population as physically naked, he also viewed them as culturally naked. This attitude and ignorance was forever etched into European thought. The idea of Eurocentrism later influenced exploration and treatment of the New World, even into present day. Other European nations started to label Spain as the “Black Legend”, due to the conquests in South America being ruthless and cruel. This label was used to rally loathing towards Spain by rival European powers. Colonization followed an agenda of capitalism, where explorers searched for wealth for trade and prosperity. In 1519, Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico to conquer the Aztec empire. The Aztecs viewed the Europeans as gods from their beliefs. The war waged for three years and Cortes was able to conquer the remaining city and found a Spanish city called Mexico City. The Incan civilization of Peru was also a target of Spain. Between 1531 and 1536, Pizarro’s soldier’s defeated the Incans, and a Spanish government was set up.
After the collapse of the Aztec empire and rise of the new Spanish government, Spain had control of the West Indies and the Aztec region. The Spanish colonists usurped the labor power of the indigenous people, and then lived off it. The newcomers exploited the rich Peruvian silver mines and gained resources at the expense of the local people. These mines were continued to be used for centuries through enslavement of the native people. It is because of their hard work that Spain gained many resources and riches. According to the book Spanish Colonization in The Southwest by Frank Wilson Blackmar, a professor of mathematics, history, sociology and economics at the University of the Pacific and University of Kansas: “Religious idea was prominent in the new conquest and settlement, and it continued to increase in importance until the whole territory was under controls of the religious order”. The Aztec education system was abolished and replaced by a very limited church education. There was a radical depopulation due to the diseases that the Europeans brought and the forced labor of the aboriginal population. The hardships of forced labor and the spread of diseases brought by the Europeans killed many natives.
The colonization of the Americas was done in the name of religion and violence to expand the monarchy’s territory. Christopher Columbus had written to Ferdinand and Isabella stating that “by the conversion of so many people to our holy faith and for the temporal benefits which will follow” Christendom will receive a “great triumph”. Evidently, the cause of religion was an excuse to perpetuate the capitalist system that was set up under the name of encomienda. Under this system, the Spanish crown gave its colonists the right to rule through forced labor. The colonists were the bourgeoisie dooming the indigenous people to suffer from starvation, and diseases which they had no immunity to, such as typhus, smallpox, and measles. The indigenous people were parallel to the proletariats being used to produce slave labor to help create wealth for the bourgeoisie, which was the Spanish monarch and people. The Spanish kingdom imported precious metals, raw materials and spices from the colonies, then imposed sanctions and restrictions to hinder the economy of New Spain. The cruel Spanish system oppressed and destroyed the Indigenous people, so ruthless, that the effects still linger today.
The effects of colonization manifest itself today in the present day Americas. There exists a mentality that the Europeans engaged in a virtuous act by colonizing the indigenous people. One such example of this mentality is the celebration of Columbus Day in the United States of America. It is ironic that a country founded upon life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness openly celebrate annihilation, terrorism and subjugation. According to American professor, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic Noam Chomsky: “A century and a half after the conquest almost 100 million human beings had disappeared…It is difficult to think of comparable events in human history. The effects of the conquest did, of course, dramatically change the Western hemisphere and, as a result, Western civilization.” Indeed, there has never been such a dramatic shift in the western hemisphere as colonization; to pay attention to it one must certainly do so.
However, to celebrate Columbus openly is a contradiction to the founding principles of the United States of America and is quite bizarre considering the irony. According to the book, The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies by Professor Frank Chalk of the University of Concordia; Spanish authorities arrested Columbus for his treatment of the natives; his governorship was stripped and he was taken back to Spain. It is unmistakable that Columbus Day stood a day where people celebrated mass genocide and a criminal. Therefore, it serves the American dignity justice to discontinue the practice of celebrating the acts of Columbus. It is indeed important to pay consideration at the arrival of Columbus, as it influenced an entire hemisphere. However, it is certainly immoral and satirical to be celebrating it. The mentality that many people has possessed in the United States is a clear indication that the effects of colonization still manifest itself today in present age.
The voyage of Christopher Columbus was the catalyst for several centuries of exploration, the first encounter between the New World and Old World was triggered by his voyage. When the Spanish conquered new land, they abused and enslaved the native people that were living there. Indigenous populations that once existed as a separate identity were forced to assimilate into the new European culture. By command of the Spanish monarch, conquistadors ensured the foreign expansion of Spanish land into the Americas. The foreign land was then incorporated into the Spanish Empire, and then the Spanish monarch gave complete control to the colonists as long as they filled in their quota to the crown. One of the incentives for Spanish colonization was the spread of Christianity, resources and trade. At the same time however, the indigenous population was annihilated and subjugated. The impact of Spanish colonialism brought many civil distresses to the Americas and later manifested itself in present day.