1. Before you read the packet “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress,” write down all you think you know about Christopher Columbus, including myth as well as reality. Please use a list format. Columbus was a Portuguese explorer, but worked for Spain.
Columbus’s voyage in 1492 was made to find an alternate route to China, leaving Europe from the east rather than the west. Columbus did not discover the Americas, natives occupied the land and Vikings such as Leif Erikson had already come across the continent, it was just not well documented. Columbus never actually reached the continent of North America, he landed somewhere in the Caribbean. Columbus called the natives he found “Indians” because he believed he had reached India. Columbus died believing he had reached Asia rather than the Americas. 2.During or after reading the packet, write down passages that support and/or contradict each item that you listed in assignment #1 above. Cite page numbers in parentheses at the end of each quotation. •Columbus was a Portuguese explorer, but worked for Spain. “He had persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance an expedition to the lands" (1) “He was a merchant’s clerk from the Italian city of Genoa, part-time weaver (the son of a skilled weaver), and expert sailor” (1-2) •Columbus’s voyage in 1492 was made to find an alternate route to China, leaving Europe from the east rather than the west. “For, like other informed people of his time, he knew the world was round and he could sail west in order to get to the Far East” (1) “It was early October 1492” (2)
•Columbus never actually reached the continent of North America, he landed somewhere in the Caribbean. “There were signs of land…It was an island in the Bahamas, the Caribbean sea.” (2) •Columbus called the natives he found “Indians” because he believed he had reached India. “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found” (1) “He insisted he had reached Asia.” (2)
“Columbus called them Indians, because he miscalculated the size of the earth.” (14) •Columbus died believing he had reached Asia rather than the Americas. “Columbus’s report to the Court in Madrid was extravagant. He insisted he had reached Asia (it was Cuba) and an island off the coast of China (Hispaniola).” (2) 3.In a paragraph or two, discuss the events and actions discussed in the packet that were not originally part of your thinking about Columbus. This article gave me more insight on the things I believed about Columbus and also taught me some things that I never knew about Columbus’s voyage. In my list I claimed that Columbus was Portuguese but this was entirely incorrect. Columbus was from Genoa, Italy as stated in the quote “He was a merchant’s clerk from the Italian city of Genoa, part-time weaver (the son of a skilled weaver), and expert sailor”(1-2). An item I mentioned was that Columbus died believing he had reached Asia. The article never specifically accepts or denies this idea. The article also never states that Columbus never reached America. So, after reading this article I still do not know if these items that I listed are correct or not. After reading this article my view of Columbus has shifted from seeing him as a hero to seeing him as a villain. He did not share knowledge with the world in a positive way. Upon discovering new people, rather than trying to learn about their culture and share ideas, he enslaved and killed them. Columbus depleted the population of the natives and took credit for discovering the land in which they lived on. 4.Choose one of the following quotations and respond to it: “… for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance…” –Columbus This quote shows how different the two societies are. One could argue that the Spaniards were much more advanced than the natives, but the development of the societies were so different from each other it is hard to tell. Columbus speaks of the native’s ignorance as if it is stupidity, but one cannot expect a human who has never seen such a weapon to know its function. Through this Columbus reveals his belief that he is superior to these knew-found people. This quote is a symbol for the violent nature of the Europeans and the generally pacifistic ways of the Natives. The sword is a weapon that anyone in Europe knows as a sign for war and conflict, but the natives are ignorant of such violence. This excerpt from Columbus’s journal frames the events that will ensue after the Europeans enslave and murder a large portion of the native population. This quote foreshadows the violent effects the Spaniards will have on the natives. 5. Write down the 5 most important things Zinn says about Columbus (include page numbers). Write down the 2 most important things he says about the writing of history. Columbus:
“When we read History books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure-there is not bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration.” (5) In this quote Zinn is showing how in the United States Columbus is praised as a hero, rather than what he truly is a villain. Zinn states how it is written down in history books, it is published this way, and Children are not taught the truth about Columbus and his bloodshed. “He refuses to lie about Columbus. He does not omit the story of mass murder; indeed he describes it with the harshest word one can use: genocide.” (6) In this quote Zinn is paraphrasing Harvard historian, Samuel Eliot Morison’s, view of Columbus. Zinn reveals that what Columbus’s voyage truly was, was genocide not a discovery. Zinn shows how not all historians wish to hide the cruel and harsh side of Columbus. “To emphasize the heroism of Columbus and his successors as navigators and discoverers, and to de-emphasize their genocide, is not a technical necessity but an ideological choice. It serves unwittingly-to justify what was done. My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality.” (6) Here, Zinn is explaining how even though Columbus was not a great discoverer and rather an unpleasant conqueror, it is too late in history to go back and have him be taught as a villain in place of a hero. “The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks)-the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they-the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court-represent the nation as a whole.” (7) Zinn explains, in this quote, that Columbus is another name in history that is praised because he was a leader and not a small part of a nation. No one would choose to side with the Arawaks because they are small compared to the high authority of someone as “great” as Columbus. “So, Columbus and his successors were not coming into an empty wilderness, but into a world which in some places was as densely populated as Europe itself, where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women, children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps any place in the world.” (16)
This quote is showing how the notion that “Columbus was the first to discover America” is completely invalid. There were societies, families and cultures all across the lands of America and rather than embracing these things Columbus led the conquest of these peoples for personal gains. Writing of History:
“To state the facts, however, and then to bury them in a mass of other information is to say to the reader with a certain infectious calm: yes, mass murder took place, but it's not that important-it should weigh very little in our final judgments; it should affect very little what we do in the world.” (6)
This quote mentions how important facts, mostly the bad ones, are hid away and covered by the countless, and useless more pleasant facts. It says something about how history is one sided and only sides with the rich and authoritarian, and neglects to discuss the tragedies faced by those who do not hold power. “My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been, The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.”
This excerpt from the article suggests that in the United States we tend to side with whoever helped to build our nation and we credit Christopher Columbus with the discovery of our country. In United States History this man is praised, but those who experienced the dire effects of his actions are ignored and pushed aside because they impose on his greatness. Zinn suggests we should not side with Columbus because he is responsible for thousands of deaths and we should instead side with those who he executed, but living in the U. S. this is socially irresponsible.
6.Should we continue to celebrate Columbus Day? Why or why not? Make a good argument. Columbus Day should continue to be celebrated, not in honor of Columbus, but for the result of what his first voyage did, interconnect the world. The word “Columbus” is tradition and should remain the name for this honorary day due to its decades of use, but the man who this name belongs to should not be given credit for the discovery of America. In the United States pride is put into Columbus because he “founded” the land that would soon become that nation. But, on the contrary, Columbus was not the first to learn about Americas and his only actions were to mutilate the populations that already took use of the land. While Columbus was not a hero and more of a villain he did do something that would change our world forever, he made the two worlds aware of each other and for this Columbus Day should remain as a symbol for the linking of all the continents of the Earth.