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Washington Post: Columbus Was Brutal and Committed Atrocities Against Native People...Now Here's The Real Story

14 October 2013  Bill Korach The Report Card

Happy Columbus Day. You can read any number of revisionist historical smears against Christopher Columbus across America. Valerie Strauss writes in several in today’s “The Washington Post.” I am not sure what motivates so much animus against Columbus, but revisionists are so determined to trash Columbus that they will say almost anything. Ms. Stauss is so eager to belittle Columbus that her criticism is downright petty:


The famous names of the ships he took on his famous 1492 trip across the Atlantic Ocean,  the  Niña,  Pinta  and Santa Maria, probably weren’t really namedNiñaPinta and Santa Maria. The Santa Maria was also known at the time as La Gallega, meaning The Galician.” The Niña is now believed to be a nickname for a ship originally called the Santa Clara, and the Pinta was probably also a nickname, though the ship’s real name isn’t clear.


Comment: So the ships had nicknames, this is a big deal?


*Columbus didn’t “discover” America — he never set foot in North America.

During four separate trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands  that are now the Bahamas as well as the island later called Hispaniola. But he didn’t reach North America, which, of course, was already inhabited by Native Americans, and he never thought he had found a new continent.


Comment: It has been well known for decades that Columbus did not land on the North American Continent. He was looking for a way to circumnavigate the globe to the East Indies. Along the way, he discovered Islands in the Caribbean. This led to the discovery of Mexico, Central and South America. Kind of a big deal. So when they say “Columbus discovered America” it is meant that he discovered a new world. So why does Ms. Strauss work so hard to diminish Columbus?


Ms. Strauss cites a book by Laurence Bergreen, that Columbus was personally brutal a statement off the mark with historical records. She says:

“Columbus was a brutal viceroy and governor of the Caribbean islands on which he did land. He committed atrocities against native peoples on the islands and decimated their populations while he also terrorized Spanish colonists, according to the biography “Columbus” by Laurence Bergreen.”


It is true that many of the Spanish sailors and later Conquistadors were brutal in their treatment of the native population. But Columbus himself felt that it was his mission to convert the natives to Christianity and believed that the process must be done in kindness. Columbus wrote a letter to the Treasurer of Aragon, Luis de Sant Angel in 1493 published in the “Harvard Classics.” Since Senor de Sant Angel was the individual that financed the exploration, he received this news from Columbus. The letter, reprinted here, demonstrates Columbus fondness for the natives. He describes how he intervened personally to return items to the natives that sailors had cheated them to obtain. We must guard carful against tendentious, politically correct and inaccurate revisionism that dumbs down our children and detracts from America’s history.

As I know you will be rejoiced at the glorious success that our Lord has given me in my voyage, I write this to tell you how in thirty-three days I sailed to the Indies with the fleet that the illustrious King and Queen, our Sovereigns, gave me, where I discovered a great many islands, inhabited by numberless people; and of all I have taken possession for their Highnesses by proclamation and display of the Royal Standard without opposition. To the first island I discovered I gave the name of San Salvador, in commemoration of His Divine Majesty, who has wonderfully granted all this. The Indians call it Guanaham. The second I named the Island of Santa Maria de Concepcion; the third, Fernandina; the fourth, Isabella; the fifth, Juana; and thus to each one I gave a new name. When I came to Juana, I followed the coast of that isle toward the west, and found it so extensive that I thought it might be the mainland, the province of Cathay; and as I found no towns nor villages on the sea-coast, except a few small settlements, where it was impossible to speak to the people, because they fled at once,.

November when I was there…..

They have no iron, nor steel, nor weapons, nor are they fit for them, because although they are well-made men of commanding stature, they appear extraordinarily timid. The only arms they have are sticks of cane, cut when in seed, with a sharpened stick at the end, and they are afraid to use these. Often I have sent two or three men ashore to some town to converse with them, and the natives came out in great numbers, and as soon as they saw our men arrive, fled without a moment’s delay although I protected them from all injury.

At every point where I landed, and succeeded in talking to them, I gave them some of everything I had—cloth and many other things—without receiving anything in return, but they are a hopelessly timid people. It is true that since they have gained more confidence and are losing this fear, they are so unsuspicious and so generous with what they possess, that no one who had not seen it would believe it. They never refuse anything that is asked for. They even offer it themselves, and show so much love that they would give their very hearts. Whether it be anything of great or small value, with any trifle of whatever kind, they are satisfied. I forbade worthless things being given to them, such as bits of broken bowls, pieces of glass, and old straps, although they were as much pleased to get them as if they were the finest jewels in the world. One sailor was found to have got for a leathern strap, gold of the weight of two and a half castellanos, and others for even more worthless things much more; while for a new blancas they would give all they had, were it two or three castellanos of pure gold or an arroba or two of spun cotton. Even bits of the broken hoops of wine casks they accepted, and gave in return what they had, like fools, and it seemed wrong to me. I forbade it, and gave a thousand good and pretty things that I had to win their love, and to induce them to become Christians, and to love and serve their Highness and the whole Castilian nation, and help to got for us things they have in abundance, which are necessary to us. They have no religion, nor idolatry, except that they all believe power and goodness to be in heaven. They firmly believed that I, with my ships and men, came from heaven, and with this idea I have been received everywhere, since they lost fear of me. They are, however, far from being ignorant. They are most ingenious men, and navigate these seas in a wonderful way, and describe everything well, but they never before saw people wearing clothes, nor vessels like ours. Directly I reached the Indies in the first isle I discovered, I took by force some of the natives, that from them we might gain some information of what there was in these parts; and so it was that we immediately understood each other, either by words or signs. They are still with me and still believe that I come from heaven. They were the first to declare this wherever I went, and the others ran from house to house, and to the towns around, crying out, “Come! come! and see the men from heaven!” Then all, both men and women, as soon as they were reassured about us, came, both small and great, all bringing something to eat and to drink, which they presented with marvellous kindness…..

But our Redeemer has given victory to our most illustrious King and Queen, and to their Kingdoms rendered famous by this glorious event, at which all Christendom should rejoice, celebrating it with great festivities and solemn Thanksgivings to the Holy Trinity, with fervent prayers for the high distinction that will accrue to them from turning so many peoples to our holy faith; and also from the temporal benefits that not only Spain but all Christian nations will obtain. Thus I record. What has happened in a brief note written on board the Caravel, off the Canary Isles, on the 15th of February, 1493.

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