Assessing Christopher Columbus’s Legacy
Christopher Columbus was one of the first European explorers to set foot on American soil. Over the years Christopher’s story has been either criticized or praised, some individuals consider Christopher a hero and some think he is a selfish individual that was only interested in personal gain. Throughout this paper we will discuss why Christopher set sail on the open sea that lead him to the discover of the new world. Whether his actions were justified for human progress or pointless acts to assert dominance and obedience towards the natives, and how the world might look today if Christopher never made it to the new world.
During the middle ages trade with the far eastern countries was critical to Europe’s economy; and throughout the Mongol Empire trade thrived between Europe and eastern counties. In the 15 century the Mongol Empire fell which lead to Arab leaders seizing the land and prevented Europe from traveling through their land, cutting off the trade route to the eastern countries. Which ultimately lead to European Leaders wanting to venture west for other alternatives. Christopher, a young and ambitious sailor searched for anyone who would fund his operation. Eventually, Spain would give Christopher whatever he needed to make the trip, armed with three ships and close to one hundred he set off to find a new trade route to eastern countries.
Once he arrived in the Americas Christopher met some of the native tribes and was first able to trade with them with trinkets and other items from Europe for valuable items he took advantage of this as he states in his journal. “For new Spanish coins they would give anything asked of them, as an ounce a half or two ounces of gold, or thirty or forty pounds of cotton. Thus, they would trade away their cotton and gold, for broken hoops, platters and glass.” (Columbus) Soon greed overcame Christopher and his crew, and they began enslaving the natives. With superior weaponry and armor the Europeans brought with them the resisting native didn’t stand a chance. Christopher brought back large amounts of gold and wealth back to Europe at the cost of countless native’s lives. Christopher enslaved thousands of natives to further his quest for wealth and power. The crew gave the natives a mandatory amount of items they must bring back and for those natives who did not bring back the amount that Christopher had his crew cut off the native’s hand. Natives who tried to run away were hunted down and killed as an example to the others. Conditions for the natives become so bad that many of them would have attempted to committed suicide rather than be enslaved by the Spanish. Las Casas a Spanish historian writes about the poor treatment of the natives “When they have been brought to the very edge of collapse by the labors to which they are put and begin to drop from hunger and toil as they stumble through the mountains with enormous loads on their backs, the Spanish kick them and beat them with sticks to make them get up and resume their wearisome trudge.”(Las Casas) Christopher’s action were uncalled for. Even if the natives started the hostility, they lived there for many years and with the Spanish invading the natives land they might have started to feel threatened and started to fight back in hope the Spanish would never return. Instead of the Spanish explorers accepting the fact that they were not welcome there the Spanish decided to dominate the natives and forced them into slavery.
Christopher’s quest was to find a new trade route to eastern countries and he abandoned the quest once he realized the profits he could make off the resources in the area. Christopher then began to bring the natives back to Spain, so they could be sold as slaves. Once Isabella, the Queen of Spain realized what he did she quickly demanded the native to be returned to their home. As the Queen was appalled by Christopher’s actions she demanded his arrest for negligence as the official governor of Espanola. When he was finally pardoned the Queen had only one condition that there would be no more slaves in Espanola nor would any be brought back to Spain he agreed and regained his title.
Questions concerning what if Christopher Columbus would have never made it to the Americas? It is hard to say exactly how our world would have turned out. The Columbian exchange may have never started, leaving Europe vulnerable to enemy countries. The Americas may not have been discovered till many years after leaving them far behind in any technological advances or left as an unexplored country. Many native groups such as the Aztec may still be around, and it could have saved thousands of native’s lives.
Throughout this paper I have discussed: who Christopher Columbus was and what made him sail westward, How Christopher Columbus actions were uncalled for and only fueled by personal gain, and what the world would look like if Christopher never made it to the Americas. As this paper proves that Christopher was only interested with wealth and social standing. Christopher’s unnecessary action was just barbaric murder to obtain obedience from the native to help with his true quest; and nothing he did was significant enough that any other individual with the same ambition wouldn’t have been able to achieve.