Columbus and Cortes

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Matthew Johnson
Lesson 2 Essay Assignment
U.S. History One
February 1, 2013
In the 16th century Spaniards Herman Cortes and Christopher Columbus set out on endeavoring journeys in search of new worlds. Christopher Columbus encountered, in the Caribbean islands, a group of extremely simplistic Native Americans. Herman Cortes however encountered a much more advanced Native American group in Meso America; we formally know this area to be Mexico. In my essay I will be comparing and contrasting several aspects between both of these Native American Civilizations including sophistication, technology, housing, weapons, religion and their reaction to the Spaniards. Letters written by Columbus and Cortes will be used to make these comparisons.

Just as is typical today, I would assume first impressions and acceptance by new people were of great meaning to Columbus and Cortes. The Natives that Columbus encountered were very welcoming to the Spaniards. Columbus states in his writing on Tuesday, October 16 that there was a man whom had given such favorable account of them. The Indian man served Columbus with great numbers of canoes which delivered water and other things to the Spaniards on their ships. Columbus instructed that the Native Americans which boarded the ship be fed with molasses. Columbus states that when he sent the boat on shore for water “The natives with great good will directed the men where to find it, assisted them in carrying the casks full of it to the boat, and seemed to take great pleasure in serving us.” Herman Cortes and his men also received a majestic welcoming in the Aztec capital. In the account of the dialogue of Cortes and the Aztec ruler Motechzoma, the first thing the ruler did was give necklaces to Cortes and his men. Motechzoma gave Cortes a standing welcome and, in fact, bowed before Cortes addressing him as Lord. At the end of the greeting between Cortes and the ruler, the Spaniards grasped the ruler’s hands and patted his back to...
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