Paradise Found and Lost - Critique

Topics: Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Europe, New World Pages: 2 (653 words) Published: October 8, 1999
"Paradise Found and Lost" from Daniel J. Boorstin's The Discoverers, embodies Columbus' emotions, ideas, and hopes. Boorstin, a former Librarian of Congress, leads the reader through one man's struggles as he tries to find a Western Passage to the wealth of the East. After reading "Paradise Found and Lost," I was enlightened about Columbus' tenacious spirit as he repeatedly fails to find the passage to Asia. Boorstin title of this essay is quite apropos because Columbus discovers a paradise but is unable to see what is before him for his vision is too jaded by his ambition.

Although this essay is historically accurate it lacks important details, which might paint a different view of Columbus. Boorstin writes favorable of Columbus and depicts him as a heroic and determined figure who helped shape history, but he neglects to include Columbus' unethical acts committed in the world that was not supposed to exist, the Americas. When Columbus first discovered the New World, he took care that the royal standard had been brought ashore and he claimed the land for Spain in front of all, including the indigenous population who had been sighted even before Columbus made landfall. According to the medieval concepts of natural law, only those territories that are uninhabited can become the property of the first person to discover them. Clearly this was an unethical act. Thus, the first contact between European and non-European worlds was carried out through a decidedly European prism, which ensured Spanish claim to the islands of the Americas. Faced with a colony in an inhospitable area, the Spanish soon inaugurated the practice of sending regular military parties inland to subdue the increasingly hostile natives. Members of the indigenous population were captured and enslaved to support the fledgling colony. The object of Columbus' desire changed from exploration and trade to conquest and subjugation.

Boorstin eloquently writes of the depreciating...
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