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Simplistically Put, Columbus Hero Or Villain? Essay

813 words - 4 pages

My personal opinion? Villain. Christopher Columbus was a nasty man who was motivated by greed. “The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the Gold” (Zinn 4)? He logged in his journal his first encounter with the Arawak people, stating “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might give me information of whatever there is in these parts” (Zinn 4). Their crime? “They wore tiny gold ornaments in their ears” (Zinn 5). Columbus would stop at nothing to gain what he most desired. Horrible as he was, he ultimately paved the way for America as we know it. All things happen for a reason, right?
Other than what was taught in primary education I knew little of Christopher Columbus. I certainly did not know the truth. Educators and school board officials provided a faulty historical account of Christopher Columbus growing up. Most youth raised in America grew up with nursery rhymes and bedtime stories fictionalizing the heroic efforts and swash-buckling adventures of Columbus’ and men alike making their thievery and lack of concern for human life acceptable. All Americans including the Native and African Americans who were indirectly affected by Christopher Columbus via the slave trade and destruction of their people, observe Christopher Columbus Day. If this is so, why don’t we have a Hail Hitler Day? Hitler, though many see him as a terrible man, was simply doing what power hungry individuals have done for centuries. He simply took a page out of Christopher Columbus’ book destroying the weak and enslaving those left standing. In the case of Christopher Columbus quest for gold, he went to extreme measures to ensure he would get every last golden flake that glittered in Haiti’s streams and rivers. Howard Zinn reports in his book, A People’s History of the United States Volume 1: American Beginnings to Reconstruction, that Columbus tasked the Arawaks with finding a certain amount of gold every three months. If one did not complete the task, their hands were cut off until they bled to death. “In two years, through murder, mutilation or suicide, half of the two hundred fifty thousand Indians on Haiti were dead…When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, know later as encomiendas”(7).
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