Essay on Christopher Columbus: The discovery of America
In the modern day US, Christopher Columbus is celebrated as the man who discovered America. As controversial as the context of the word ‘discovered’ may be used in, the first Monday of every October is the day Americans take their time to celebrate the heroics of Columbus sailing through the Atlantic Ocean to discover the new land in the October of 1492. As an experienced explorer, Columbus had been commissioned by the Spanish Monarch government to explore the rough waters and find the location of China or Japan for trade purposes. However, Columbus ended up on a series of islands that he collectively named as the East Indies, each island with a specific name dedicated to the upper ruling class of Spain. It was later discovered that they were not East Indies but rather a new land that the Spanish Empire claimed territory to. The sailing of Columbus towards the present day America explains how colonization and settlement of more European people at the territory was conceived. Therefore, in studying the explorative trip that was undertaken by Columbus to find Japan only to find the new land, one gains a better insight on the concept of colonization and how the historical injustices towards the natives began. In achieving its objective, this analysis uses both primary and secondary sources to understand the objective of Columbus and its aftermath.
Columbus First Voyage to America
Collectively, historical analysts point out that Columbus made four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean to the present day South and North America. Although each voyage was significant to the territory expansion of the Spanish, much emphasis is put on the success of the first one. Before Columbus came to be recognized as a great hero, Spain had just unified into one with the monarch government being headed by Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. The two were responsible for the age of exploration for the Spanish Empire and through their leadership; Columbus was accorded the much-needed support to make the exploration. As he wrote in the letter, it only took Columbus and his team of conquistadors to arrive at the islands that form the present-day Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This was in the October of 1492. On the islands, there were natives who living a totally different lifestyle and lacked all significant elements that European people deemed to be significant. For instance, they neither had towns or cities nor did they have functional governments. As described by Columbus in the letter he wrote back to the King and Queen; the natives were more affectionate to the outsiders regardless of the fact that they also feared the Europeans. Their innocence portrayed them as naïve, an aspect that Columbus and other warrior explorers decided to take advantage of. After close to eight months, Columbus arrived back in Spain in March 1493. As Gallagher notes, great celebrations were made in the name of the new hero, Columbus.
Several historical accounts analyzed by historians do not deviate from the primary information that was handcrafted by Columbus. In the account presented by the Saylor Foundation, it is evident that the exploration trips were taken seriously by the monarch government. The conquistadors who accompanied Columbus during all the four voyages were not just mere men but trained warriors. Their versatility and ability to endure harsh environments is what made the exploration a success. In the study by Stannard, demographers estimated the total population of inhabitants in the New World, which is the present day north of Mexico to be 12 million people. All that was about to change with the arrival of Columbus and his discovery of their territory as a New World, initially East Indies.
Historical significance of Christopher Columbus
America, as it is today, is a place that many people aspire to visit. It is the perfect place where true happiness and good life experiences occur as per the depictions of Hollywood. Clueless to all such people is that all that glitters is not gold. Amidst the happy place that is the current America, the country possesses a gloomy past dominated by historical injustices perpetrated to the minority. All these can be traced back to one celebrated event; the discovery of America by Columbus. Although historical accounts signal that Columbus was not the first European or foreigner to step foot on what he determined as the new world, it was his arrival that acted as the onset of injustices against the natives. Upon the success of the first voyage, to which Columbus claimed Spanish territory of five islands that were already inhabited, three subsequent voyages were organized by the monarch government. The agenda of the voyages that followed upon the first success was to carry more warriors who could secure and establish the authority of the Spanish Empire on the newly claimed territories. From a historical perspective, it was the beginning of colonization. More European settlers, from other countries, also saw an opportunity to grab a New World that was deemed free for grabs. While all these was going on, it is important to note that the natives, who had inhabited the land for more than 30,000 years were still living there.
Controversies associated with the whole issue emanate from the term ‘discover’. How can a land that people are already living on be discovered? In the three historical accounts that have been used to cover this paper, it is evident that the arrival of European settlers led to the demise of the native communities. Historical sources point out that almost 90% of the original native communities were wiped out during the era that European settlers were grabbing America. One of the reasons that may have led to the killing of the natives by the teams led by Columbus was their refusal to uphold Christianity. As covered by Stannard and Gallagher, the monarch government had declared to enforce Christianity while eradicating other forms of religion. As such, rebellious people were killed or exiled. The natives that Columbus arrived back with after the first voyage were all converted to Christianity. In general, the suffering of natives began from the time that Columbus claimed to have discovered a new world.
In summary, it is significant to acknowledge and appreciate the success of Columbus first voyage to the New World as the conception of the present-day America. Natives still live in reservations camps on a land that was theirs in the first place. Such incidences can be traced to the voyages of Columbus quest, which was originally set to locate China or Japan for economic reasons. As a discovery that happened by mistake, Columbus success marked the beginning of European settlers in the Americas.
“The Letter of Columbus in the Discovery of America.” Print https://ia801404.us.archive.org/21/items/letterofcolumbus00colum/letterofcolumbus00colum.pdf
Gallagher, Carole. “Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of a New World.” (2000): 1-30. Print http://arcofhistory.org/Honors_Western_Civ/Columbus_Trial_files/Columbus and the Discovery of the New World.pdf
National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox. “Letter of Christopher Columbus on his first Voyage to America, 1492. 1-5. Print https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/amerbegin/contact/text1/columbusletter.pdf
Stannard, David. "The American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World." 1-16. Print http://432thedrop.com/uploads/3/3/8/9/3389030/american_holocaust_-_columbus.pdf
The Saylor Foundation. “European Voyages of Exploration: Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire”. 1-7. Printhttps://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/HIST201-3.1.4-ChristopherColumbusandSpanishEmpire-FINAL.pdf
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