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Christopher Columbus DBQ Autosaved

By ElizabethH86 May 04, 2015 1448 Words
Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain?
For many years, there has been a controversy depicting whether Christopher Columbus was to be named a Hero or a Villain. As we all know, Christopher Columbus did not actually “discover” the Americas. People to this day believe that Christopher Columbus took claim to discovering what they called “The New World,” when in reality, Indians could have been living on America for hundreds to thousands of years before Columbus’s time. People can classify Columbus in many different forms; a hero, a villain, or even a leader to the people around him in his time. Due to the support of the documents presented and other historical evidence, I see Columbus more as a villain, for the way the natives were treated and how Columbus Day came to be. Columbus is called a hero because of the several accomplishes made during his life time, a villain due to the fact that several thousands of Indians and Native Americans perished during his exploration, and a leader to his fellow men because of the way he carried his men during the struggles in the Americas. Many people could debate for days on end about whether Columbus Day should be kept as a national holiday or to have it abolished, but it comes down to the details about the good and bad that Columbus caused before people really started to take sides. Columbus was perceived as a hero because of how eager he was to explore and how he made an attempt to trade with the Indians and Native Americans. Document 17, an excerpt from Honoring Christopher Columbus (1992) written by Dr. Warren H. Carroll for The Catholic Social Science Review, states how adventurous Columbus was and how eager he was to explore. The excerpt states, “Only Columbus set off directly across a broad, unknown sea with no specific knowledge of how far it extended or what lay on the other side.”(D7). Most believe that Dr. Carroll meant that Columbus wasn’t like most explorers; before Columbus’ time, almost all European voyages followed coastlines and planned out their voyage before setting sail. Not Columbus; he set off without any real knowledge of how long his journey would be or what land he was really heading for. Because of this, most people categorized Columbus to be not only adventurous, but faithful that his journey would be a success without knowing his final destination till he got there. Even though people believe that Christopher Columbus was rude to no extent towards Native Americans and Indians, several people also believe that all Columbus really wanted to do was business, by trading. In Document 1, an excerpt from Columbus’s journal (1492), it is brought to our attention that Columbus made an attempt to trade with the natives. The excerpt states, “They came loaded with balls of cotton, parrots, javelins, and other things too numerous to mention; these they exchanged for whatever we chose to give them.”(D1). This excerpt is saying that one of Columbus’s goals was to befriend that natives and hopefully make some important trades for items that the sailors could not produce in exchange for things that they had made and brought along with them. For the most part, people see Christopher Columbus as a hero for the risks he took in order to explore and the dangers he faced along the way. People who opposed and still oppose to this day the celebration Columbus Day as a national holiday find Christopher Columbus to be a villain because of the glory he took when he “discovered” the Americas and the way the natives were treated. In Document 3, an excerpt from an online “Petition to Abolish Columbus Day” (1995), it discusses how Columbus did not technically discover the Americas. The excerpt states, “American Indian people have been on this continent at least 10,000 years, and scientists have proven that numerous other explorers had arrived on this continent from other parts of the world long before Columbus.”(D3). This is clearly stating that Columbus was not the first person to discover the Americas, he was just the first one who had their findings of the “New World” publicized. The main point of Columbus Day was to honor a man who discovered the land that we now call home. Several people believe that the whole holiday is a lie because it was set aside to honor a man for doing something that he technically did not do; something unknown men did thousands of years ago. In Document 6, an excerpt from Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, it points out how harshly the Native Americans and Indians were treated. The document quotes, “There were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines.”(D6). The evidence in the document proves what a lot of people thought, the natives did not have it easy when the explorers landed on the Americas. Even if the deaths weren’t directly caused by Christopher Columbus, they were still caused by people that traveled with him. Overall, people brand Christopher Columbus as being a villain due to the extremely high death toll during his time in the Americas. Even though several people classified Christopher Columbus as either a hero or villain, many still labeled him as just an explorer who was a leader to his fellow men during their exploration. People who placed Columbus in the ‘leader’ category typically thought the holiday set aside for Christopher Columbus was a nice way to honor his doings, but never really had a set opinion to whether the holiday should be abolished or not. In Document 2, an excerpt from “The Vision of Columbus,” (1787), centers on how Columbus carried himself throughout the exploration. The excerpt states, “His courage and perseverance had been put to the severest test, and the exercise of every amiable and heroic virtue rendered him universally known and respected.”(D2). This excerpt is briefly describing how Christopher Columbus’s courage and perseverance had been tested to the extreme and how he would not accept failure. As many know, Columbus was every talented and he was educated in all of the useful sciences that were taught in his days. Therefore, all of these qualifications above had sculpted him to be a reasonable leader for the exploration. In Document 4, is a picture called The Landing of Columbus (1847), by John Vanderlyn, (D4). The painting portrays Christopher Columbus as a strong leading figure. The way Columbus was painted shows a strong man holding a flag with dignity looking off into the distance with a group of men on horses surrounding him. Because of the way Christopher Columbus was painted in The Landing of Columbus and the way Columbus is described by his characteristics and courage, Columbus is portrayed as an ideal leader for his exploration. Overall, it appears that whether people believe that Columbus Day should be abolished or kept as a national holiday, we all have our own personal opinions, ones that will be influenced and frequently changed. Whether the above paragraphs have altered your thinking in any form, where would you classify Christopher Columbus: Hero, Villain, or just a normal person who just-so-happened to be qualified to lead an exploration? We are all given the right to have our own opinions, but what matters is whether your opinion is based on facts or just solely biased information. Without a doubt, Christopher Columbus was an educated, adventurous, and dedicated man with a mission. Due to the support of the documents presented and other historical evidence, many people perceive Columbus as a hero because of the several accomplishes made during his life time, a villain due to the fact that several thousands of Indians and Native Americans perished during his exploration, and a leader to his fellow men because of the way he carried his men during the struggles in the Americas. Even though Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, he played a huge role in establishing The New World. Whether you choose to believe that he was a hero or villain, you must know that America would not be where it is today without his courage and perseverance. If you choose to abolish Columbus Day as a national holiday, so be it. If you choose to keep it as a national holiday, people would not argue. Just know that whether Columbus Day has ‘national holiday’ attached to it or not, people will still remember the good, the bad, and the leadership that Columbus brought with him when he sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

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