In the year 1492, explorer Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to what he believed to be India. That is a fact which cannot be disputed. However, it is often the case that historians are biased in their writing and add their own personal beliefs and interpretations into accounts of what happened. An example of this is historian Davis E. Stannard’s controversial book, American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World. Stannard uses facts to support his belief that Columbus and the explorers to follow in his footsteps are responsible for a mass genocide of the Indian peoples.
Columbus’s captain’s log does much to contradict Stannard’s views. Columbus states that he wishes for “…the natives to develop a friendly attitude toward us [the Spanish explorers and settler].” Columbus wants no harm to come to the Natives and makes sure that trade between the natives and his men is not unfair. He may have been a bit misguided with his attempts to covert the natives to Christianity, but he himself writes that “…they are a people who can be made free and converted to our Holy Faith more buy love than by force.” Columbus does not want to bring any sort of harm to the Natives, and believes “…that in all the world there cannot be better or more gentle people.” The impression one may have of Columbus solely from reading this document starkly differs from the view of Columbus that Stannard emphasizes.
Bartolomé de Las Casa’s History of the Indies sheds a light on the cruelties that the Spanish were not just capable of, but committed on a day to day basis. De Las Casa helps support Stannard’s thesis and showcases the horrible deeds performed by the Spaniards often. The Spanish soldiers would slaughter the Natives “…like sheep in a corral.” They would often place bets to measure their strength, such as who could cut a Native in half with a single blow, or slice of their heads the quickest. They has no mercy, and made sure to “…prevent Indians from daring...
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