A People's History of the United States Chapters 1/2

Topics: Christopher Columbus, United States, Puerto Rico Pages: 3 (1008 words) Published: November 6, 2013
After reading the first two chapters of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, I learned many new facts that I wasn’t aware of. I learned a lot of new information spanning from the time period of 1492, when Christopher Columbus first discovered North America until the early 17th Century when the first African slaves were brought to America via the Triangular Trade.

Howard Zinn commences his first chapter, Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress by using imagery to describe the scene when Christopher Columbus and his crew struck land and the Arawaks of the Bahama Islands greeted them with extreme hospitality. Howard Zinn writes in the opening paragraph, “When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts.” This quote makes it seem that the Native Americans on the Bahama Islands were very innocent and they had no bad intentions towards the incoming Spanish explorers. Until I read this quote, I was not aware how innocent the Native Americans were, making it seem that the heinous acts that the Spaniards committed against the Arawaks and other neighboring tribes were even worse than they already seemed.

The first thing Christopher Columbus noticed about the Arawak tribe when he arrived was the gold ornaments the natives wore on their ears. This led Columbus to believe that there was much more gold to be found, and it had to be discovered at any cost. Because of this observation, Columbus and his crew took multiple natives as prisoners because he wanted them to act as guides to find the source of the gold.

There were many methods the Spaniards used against the the native Americans to force them to perform hard labor. With the slaves Columbus obtained from the Bahamas, he sailed with them to Cuba, and then Hispaniola. On the shores of Hispaniola there were bits of gold visible in the river and tribe leader on Hispaniola presented a gold mask to him. Columbus...
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