"These people are very unskilled in arms; with 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one wished." – Christopher Columbus
The "history" told to your parents and grandparents
Classic Cartoons - Christopher Columbus
The Reality of Historical Records.
Discovery And Domination 1492, Columbus "discovered" the Americas when he landed in Haiti and several islands in the Caribbean. The Arawak Indians inhabited these islands, and at first Columbus described them as "very handsome," and went into great detail about their formidable wooden boats that could hold 40-45 men. In little time, though, and after noticing their gold nose rings, he got to the point: "I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold." In search of this gold, he sailed the next day around the island, ending with the ominous statement: "I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased." On this first voyage, Columbus captured 20-25 Arawak slaves, who he then transported back to Spain.
For the second voyage to Haiti the following year (1493), Ferdinand and Isabella gave him the resources needed to subdue the population. When he returned to Haiti, Columbus demanded food, gold, and cotton thread, and was increasingly met with resistance. This resistance gave him the opportunity he needed to declare war on the Arawaks. According to Bartolomé de Las Casas, who was there with the Spanish, Columbus chose "200 foot soldiers and 20 cavalry, with many crossbows and small cannon, lances, and swords, and a still more terrible weapon against the Indians, in addition to the horses: this was 20 hunting dogs, who were turned loose and immediately tore the Indians apart."
The Spanish won the war, of course, for the Arawaks had only rudimentary weapons. As Columbus still could not find the gold he sought, and having to bring something back to Spain, he rounded up 1,000 Arawaks to be used as slaves. Five hundred of these he brought back to Spain, and the remaining 500 he gave to the Spanish then "governing" the island.
- read more HubPages
very graphic description using primary source letters from Columbus and his Summary of Columbus - Thom Hartman
Legal brief from Ward Churchill's book Indians Are Us? Culture and Genocide in Native North America (Common Courage Press, 1994)
from the Oatmeal
Columbus Opened Up Slavery in the Atlantic...
Slavery was nothing new to the world.In fact, the history of slavery goes back to the beginning of socially stratified societies- perhaps as far back as 10,000 years or more. But when Columbus started to bring natives back to Spain, it opened up a whole new source for forced human labor. It was one from which they would seize so many that the people he encountered in Hispaniola, the Taino, are thought now to be extinct. Even after Columbus’ death, and despite the abolition of slavery in Spain, human labor was still in demand in Europe and those who sought to fulfill the demand continued to look to the Americas and to Africa as a source of slaves, thus perpetuating what Columbus started with that one voyage.
Despite the fact that we spend an entire weekend in October celebrating a man who does not deserve our celebration, the fact that we get a day off of school and work, and the fact that those Columbus Day sales make the stores quite a bit of money, means that we will probably keep celebrating this day. It doesn’t mean, however, that we have to make it about Columbus or about discovery.
We will spend our 'day off' solemnly reflecting slavery, genocide and the human race.
Unit Study SLAVERY
Primary Source Documents:Letter to Isabella and Ferdinand - circa 1494, Columbus lists his recommendations about how Spain should proceed, including his suggestion that the area he encountered be systematically colonized. The letter is fairly brief; especially pertinent are points 1, 4, 5 and 9. What does Columbus emphasize about what he saw and what should happen next?
Columbus' Journal - This document is the from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492. The meaning of this voyage is highly contested. On the one hand, it is witness to the tremendous vitality and verve of late medieval and early modern Europe - which was on the verge of acquiring a world hegemony. On the other hand, the direct result of this and later voyages was the virtual extermination, by ill-treatment and disease, of the vast majority of the Native inhabitants, and the enormous growth of the transatlantic slave trade. It might not be fair to lay the blame at Columbus' feet, but since all sides treat him as a symbol, such questions cannot be avoided.
The Columbus Letter - Concerning the Islands Recently Discovered in what Columbus thought was the Indian Sea. Columbus's letter announcing the success of his voyage to the "islands of the India sea" is one of the most remarkable documents ever published. It is a key document in the social and intellectual histories of both Europe and the Americas.
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