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APUSH Essay

By ShahanMian Sep 29, 2013 573 Words
Following the Crusades, European interest in Asian goods skyrocketed. This interest led to a need for new cheaper direct water routes to Asia. This led to the accidental discovery of America by Christopher Columbus. This discovery is seen as one of the most successful failures in history, as Columbus failed to find his target, India. However, the failure was a disguised success as new trade routes were discovered, colonies for European nations, and new crops were discovered. Columbus’ methods were seen as cruel and inhumane by some and he was criticized by many. This is seen in the textbook, In a People’s History of The United States. The latter of the argument glorified Columbus for his “acceleration” of the Native populations in the Americas through the introduction of old world crops and technology. This view was supported by the American Pageant. Both texts supply factual information about various events in history, but present Christopher Columbus and the Europeans in different ways.

In A People’s History of the United States, Columbus is painted as a greedy, egotistical, tyrant with no regard for human feelings or safety. The authors quote Columbus saying “They would make fine servants… with fifty men we could subjugate the all and make them do whatever we want”. The quote is used to taint the image of Columbus to push their idea of Columbus being greedy. Another quote, “ I took some of the natives by force…” illustrates Columbus as a tyrant with no regard for the lives of the natives. Columbus would take Natives by force for his own benefits and some accounts have records of Columbus raping native women at random. During Columbus’ first voyage, the first man to spot land was promised a yearly pension of 10,000 maravedis for life. One man claimed to have spotted the shinning white sands, Columbus claimed to have seen it the night before. The man never received the reward he deserved. The passage also states that Columbus lied to his men in order to convince them to accompany him on the voyage. According to the passage Columbus lied, claiming “wide rivers of which the majority contain gold” despite being unsure of any gold presence. There was no gold. Columbus went as far as forcing Natives on a search for the gold, which was an impossible task as there was no gold. The perspective of the passage clearly sees Columbus as a deviant who committed horrendous acts.

In the American Pageant did not mention any of the acts brought to light in the previous article. Instead, this article explains how the Natives had new trade opportunities with the Europeans. The Natives gave new world goods in exchange for European old world crops and animals that would advance their societies. Columbus’ brutal methods were not mentioned in this article. The only aspect of negativity expressed in the article was the accidental spread of disease that devastated Native populations. The perspective seems to be a more positive one, almost making Columbus seem like a virtual savior to the native populations through trade.

Both American Pageant and A People’s History of the United States Present Christopher Columbus in different ways through different perspectives. American Pageant is more general on the Europeans actions taken on the Native Americans, while A people’s History of the United States is more detailed and presents the Europeans as harsh, greedy colonists, taking advantage of the “naive” Native American Society.

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