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Christopher Columbus

Oct 08, 1999 1298 Words
Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred-ninty-two. He came over from Spain in three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and discovered America, or at least that was what I was taught in elementary school. Since then there has been much controversy going on over the issue of weather or not Christopher Columbus really "discovered" America because when he landed in San Salvador he was not alone. Native Americans already inhabited the land and they had been there long before Columbus, but this doesn't mean that he should be atacked stripped of his dignity.

Reed Irvine, chairman
, and Joe Goulden, director of the media analysis for Accuracy in Media, state in the acticle History Should Continue to Acknoledge Columbus as a Discoverer:

The "presence" of the North American Continent had been known to the persons living there for centuries before arrival. But Columbus, and those who followed him, recognized the significance of the New World; in this sense they certainly deserve credit for having "discovered" America.

Over five hundred years ago he landed in the Americas and now we are starting to question weather or not he should be given credit for discovering America. This doesn't seem fare. After so many years without controversy it's just been recently that we have started to question the lagitamitity of his discovery. What brought on this sudden change? Perhaps is was the coming of the five hundred year celebration of our country that brought this on, or maybe now some of the Native Americans are finally starting to speak out, but no matter what the reason may be it shouldn't be taking place. Columbus should still be given the credit for discovering America. It was the first time that anyone was recognized for landing on a new continent and he still deserves respect.

Irvine and Goulden feel bad for Columbus, too. "Poor Christopher Columbus. Five hundred years after the fact, the explorer is being stripped of recognition as the man who ‘discovered' America and the New World."

There are many people who believe that Columbus should not be credited for discovering America because the Native Americans were there first. They owned and operated the land, therefore they had right to be on it. Columbus had no right to barge in, take over their village and destroy all that they knew including them. This may be true, but accordng to Henry Noble Sherwood in Columbus and the Indians:

The Indians thought Columbus and his men had come down from Heaven...[and] when Columbus and the sailors went back to their ships, the Indians followed...Over five hundred wanted to go; they thought they would reach Heaven in this way.

Columbus was like a God in the eyes of the Native Americans and they believed that he could save them. They followed him around and wanted to find out more about these strage people who had landed on there territory. The natives saw no harm in Columbus and his men and offered them most of the things they had as gifts. They were willing to give the Europeans anything they wanted. All of the things the Europeans had were new to them. For example in Columbus's own journal, I Take Possession for King and Queen, he states that:

I showed one my sword, and through ignorance he grabbed it by the blade and cut himself...They traded and gave everything they had with good will, but it seemsto me that they have very little and are poor in everything.

Many people believe that since the Native Americans were so docile it was easy for Columbus to take advantage of them. However, since this was a new land to him he only knew that he wanted to conquer it in the name of Spain for Ferdinand and Isabella. He didn't realize that he was doing anything wrong. He lived ina time of slavery and that was all he knew. It was a way of his life, therefore he brought it with him to the new world.

Despite all of the negative connotations
people have made in reguard to Columbus there are many good things that have evolved from him landing in the Americas. Kirkpatrick Sale, a professional writer, mentions in What Columbus Discovered:

What counts, what is absolutely crucial, is that with this act two vastly different cultures, which had evolved on continents that had been drifting apart steadily for millions of years, were suddenlt joined. Everything of importance in the succeeding 500 years stems from that momentous event.

Sale goes on to list over half a dozen events that resulted from Columbus landing in America, such as "the rise of Europe, the creation of a nation-state and the dominance of science" to name a few. He's not the only one who believes that despite the suffering of the Native Americans good came out of discovering America. Arthur Schlesinger, historian and two time Pulitzer Prize winner supports Sale, in his article entilted Was America a Mistake? He believes that:

out of anguish (out, too, of self-criticism and bad conscience) have evolved the great liberating ideas of individual dignity, political democracy, equality before the law, religious tolerance, cultural pralism, artistic freedom-ideas that emerged uniquely from Europe but that empower people of every continent, color, and creed; ideas to which most of the world today aspires; ideas that offer a new and gererous vision of our common life on this interdependent planet.

Columbus just did what was in his heart. He was a sailor and wanted to find a way to India, so he thought that by sailing west he might be able to reach India quicker then sailing aroung Africa. Had he not sailed west surely someone else would have, but it was Columbus who landed in America. He was the one who had the instinct and ambition to sail west. As Schlesinger put it:

What animated Columbus more then anything else, more than God or glory or gold, must surely have been those primal passions of curiosity and wonder, the response to the challenge of the unknown, the need to go where none had gone before. That everlasting quest for new frontiers continues today as earthlings burst terrestrial bonds and begin the endless voyage beyond planet and galaxy into the illimitable dark.

That desire to go where no one has ever been before is inside of all of us. All of us enjoy exploring new teritory that we have never been on before. It's that thrill and excitement that fills our heart and soles.

When Columbus landed on the new land he put a flag in the ground claiming it for Spain. Then he met the Native Americans and was very friendly to them. "I want the natives to develop a friendly attitude toward us because I know that they are a people who can be made free and converted to our Holy Faith more by love thwn by force," Columbus wrote in his journal.

From everything that we know thus far there isn't a big enough reason as to why we should all of the sudden stop recognizing Columbus as the founder of our nation. Therefore, he should be given recignition of his accompishments and still be known as the one who discovered America.

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