Discussion Questions: Christopher Columbus

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Columbus DBQ Essay
Taking into consideration the moral standards of the 1490’s Europe, Christopher Columbus is clearly guilty of the crimes against him. The crimes are as follows: he and his men were responsible for the deaths of many of the indigenous people referred to by Columbus as “Indians,” and accused of causing ecological devastation through the importing of plant and animal life not native to the Western Hemisphere. Columbus physically interacted with the Native Americans by using force to get what he wanted, and carried out massacres and strange cruelties to the defenseless men, women, and children of the Indian tribes. Columbus also started what is called the “Great Disease Migration” by bringing dangerous diseases into a world venerable to these diseases. When the Native Americans spotted the first European settlers, they felt fearful and timid because these people that they had never seen before were invading their territory and claiming it for themselves. To top it off, some of the Europeans used brutal force to boss around the Native Americans. Christopher Columbus, in his letter to Lord Sanchez in 1493, said “…but because they are timid and full of fear” (Doc A). Columbus realizes this weakness, and utilizes it to get what he wants. The Indians, like many people, were not too fond of the Europeans taking over their land. The Aztec’s fear was driven by the gods they worshiped, which led them to fear any visitors they encountered. When the Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs fought back and used the captives’ hearts to sacrifice to their gods, especially Huitzilopochtli, whom they feared the most. The diseases Columbus brought over from the Old World to the New World were immensely dangerous to the Native Americans. Basically any European who crossed the Atlantic during the 16th century had battled illnesses, such as smallpox and measles, during childhood and emerged fully immune. This meant that anyone who was not immune to these...
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