October 11th, 2010
Someone posted that they were happy today was National Coming Out Day instead of Columbus Day.
Let me make one thing clear. By all the evidence, Columbus -- as an explorer -- was a pretty good guy. While noting that he could enslave and conquer the Indians trivially, he elected not to.
Instead of forcing the natives to help him in the darkest hours of his last expedition, he predicted a lunar eclipse and got their willing assistance.
He was attacked by a native tribe (the Ciguayos) and defended himself and his crew. He took some hostages back to Spain, but one could hardly see that as unjust.
He intervened honorably by rescuing two native boys who had been castrated by their captors.
The worst thing he did was bring disease to the New World. No one in the world back then knew that this was a danger. It wasn't until 100 years afterwards that Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope and discovered germs.
Even that's not that bad. His expeditions likely brought syphilis to Europe and resulted in an estimated five million deaths, so it was at least fair.
Don't blame him for the actions of Sepulveda, Cortez, Pizzaro, or the others who came after him.
I have a book I got years ago, kind of a recovered ship log of his travels to ~*~The New World~*~. Really interesting read and I agree with ya about his character (although I'm happy it's coming out day too!)--from what I remember of the book, he seemed most baffeled all the time haha.
I should read his log one day. I keep reading it indirectly through other historians quoting him. I get the same impression though.
Strangely, there's some who read his claim that "I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased." as portraying intent.
To be fair, my sister's gay, so I've pretty much lived most of my life with my sister being out. To me, it feels like the MPAA putting anti-piracy adverts in movie theatres for people who just paid to sit in a movie theatre and watch a movie.
It's preaching to the choir and I get real sick of preaching.
I'm pretty sure it's the castrations.
Oh, and to be fair, the syphilis part is hilarious.
oh, I totally didn't realize it was Columbus Day. heh.
Just a note, "he predicted a lunar eclipse and got their willing assistance." sounds like the god gambit. And if it is, I'm not sure that's much better than enslavement. Of course, I don't know details of any part of it, so I'm going on that statement alone.
I wonder if they still call it "native americans day" too..
It wasn't quite the God Gambit. He didn't use it to claim that he was divine or powerful. He claimed that if the Indians didn't help him, then their God would block out the Sun. Columbus knew about the eclipse beforehand and used it to trick them.
They don't call it "Native Americans Day"; they call it "Indigenous People Day". hep
just posted about it.
i don't know. i'm pretty sure if i blame him for anything, it's the things he actually did do. like forcing hundreds of natives into slavery (you said he didn't, but...he actually did...a lot) and/or cutting off the hands of said native american slaves for not managing to find the gold that they totally believe they had lying around in large amounts seems. that seems...pretty bad. unless we don't believe that happened? also, i thought it was the arawaks that he initially met upon arriving in the new world. i'm not a super big history buff. i actually hated history. but...i'm pretty sure that's what i was being taught in high school. if i'm not mistaken, columbus' men were even cutting off slices of the natives just to test how sharp their knives were...don't get me wrong. i like testing the sharpness of my blades on those i see as beneath me, too. i usually prefer for them to deserve it, though. okay, looking this stuff up again is...disheartening. so the thing with the ciguayos happened in 1493, apparently. yeah, they didn't like him. oh, okay. most of the slave-taking he did apparently happened in 1495. rounded them up and put them in pens to send back to spain. hmmm, apparently he and his brothers were put on trial for their barbaric treatment of the natives while governing hispaniola. apparently they actually managed to kill natives in the thousands over the course of like ten years. yeah, you're pretty much not going to convince me that columbo was an okay guy, cuz all the evidence suggests that he was actually a total asshole and kind of crazy on top of that. i'm not sure why you're convinced he was so great. i mean, it's not like i have to share a room with this guy, so i'm not rooting for him to be super-special-awesome.
also, i had no idea it was national coming out day. wow, i totally suck at this whole "being gay" thing. then again, i also worked rather than experiencing the day as a holiday, so...yeah. whatevs.
most of the slave-taking he did apparently happened in 1495. rounded them up and put them in pens to send back to spain.
Here -- let's test my telepathy:
"In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships."
That quote comes from Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States". If you look online, you see those exact words repeated a worrying number of times. In the text, Zinn throws it out there without any support. Zinn doesn't believe in footnotes because they'd clutter the book, so instead, he lists books which contributed and marks the especially useful ones with an asterisk.
I bet you can't find another source for it. I sure couldn't.
Zinn also quotes Columbus's comment about the Indians being unable to defend themselves from attack as proof of Columbus's intent. In context, it's closer to "Wow, these people don't have any technology to speak of."
Anyway I've read two of the six books Zinn lists for that chapter, both marked with an asterisk. Nash's "Red, White, and Black" is largely irrelevant to that part of the chapter, but the other one was De Las Casas's "History of the Indies". De Las Casas was a contemporary of Columbus's. He emigrated to Hispaniola in 1502 with his father in Nicolas de Ovando's expedition.
Interesting note: Columbus couldn't really govern -- it was an honorary title granted on him. In 1499, he was arthritic, nearly blind, and way more interested in another expedition, so he asked the court to appoint someone to govern -- Bobadilla. He came out, was given complete control as governor, and died in 1501.
Nicolas was sent out as a replacement. When he got there, he claimed the island was in a state of near-revolt and proceeded to march soldiers through, killing scores of Arawaks. He began the encomienda system and is "credited" with having started the mining industry in Hispaniola. He really super was not a good guy.
When he arrived, it was agreed that Columbus and his brothers were to be arrested. Columbus wasn't even there at the time -- he was off exploring. When he returned to Hispaniola, he was clapped in chains and sent back to Spain without opportunity for their defense. It turned out this was on the testimony of 28 witnesses -- some of it, we know to be false. We're not really sure of the rest.
The guy who could be reasonably sure was the man who judged Columbus when he got back to Spain. Ferdinand wasn't a fan of Columbus. There had been whisperings that Isabella was sleeping with him while Ferdinand was fighting the Moors in the South of Spain.
In spite of his feelings about Columbus, Ferdinand restored his freedom and his wealth. And then gave him funding for his fourth and final expedition. That doesn't sound like the mark of a guilty man at all.
A lot of the tales you hear are actually attributed to the colonists on Hispaniola. Many of them are from De Las Casas who wrote back to Sepulveda to protest the treatment of the Indians by the settlers and it was pretty rotten. I'm just saying we should blame the people who were responsible and Columbus doesn't seem to have been one of them.
well, then it still sounds more like columbo was an oblivious idiot than a pretty good guy. and maybe ferdinand just wanted him to be 'not here' in a 'please go away so everyone will shut the fuck up' kind of way.
No. Read up on Magellan. He was an oblivious idiot.
Columbus introduced himself to several New World inhabitants with only a single instance of bloodshed -- when he defended himself. Admirable when the outcome of any instance could have been guessed before blows were exchanged.
In point of fact, the only slaves he took were the captives from that action and he took them to Spain.
When he was in trouble and the Spanish governor wouldn't help his crew, he got the natives to help him with the foreknowledge of the lunar eclipse, instead of taking what he needed from the natives.
Seriously, what would qualify as a good guy in your book? If he went dancing around the natives yelling "steel and gunpowder for everyone"?
Never mind the class acts that followed. If you think Columbus was an oblivious idiot, then you must have very choice words for Pizarro and Cortez.
i would probably introduce myself to those two with a swift kick to the back of the head followed up by a bath in some acid...but that aside, i thought we covered the me hating pretty much everyone in my discussions about working in food service.
But you can be pretty well assured that none of them have ever bought a fast food burger or coffee! They've all boycotted Starbucks & Wendy's for quite some time!
dammit, but i want to do violence to somebody! i want to do violence!