Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villian Essay
Christopher Columbus promoted the enslavement of the natives. For example, He wrote in his diary on October twelfth, “…that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants…” (Halsall). This shows that Columbus believed that these people would be good slaves, so therefore he could take them. This is important because Columbus was only thinking of himself and was encouraging slavery. Furthermore, two days later, on October fourteenth Christopher Columbus wrote, “…as your highness will see by those seven which I have ordered to be taken and carried to Spain in order to learn out language and return…” (Halsall). This is showing that they believe that the Natives are not as important as themselves, so they can take them. This is important because the natives are taken to be used to learn Spain’s language. In addition, Christopher Columbus wrote a letter to his son, Ferdinand, and significant other, Isabel, in which he tells them, “…I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts… and they have been very serviceable.” (Zinn). This proves that Columbus was taking and keeping natives for his own use. This therefore shows that Columbus enslaved the natives, and used them for knowledge, rather than work. As is exemplified, Christopher Columbus was a villain because he used the natives and promoted their enslavement.
Moreover, Christopher Columbus was a villain because he brought deadly new diseases to the new world. For example, in 1656, a New Netherland traveler explains, “The Indians… affirm, that before the arrival of the Christians and before the smallpox broke out among them, they were ten times as numerous as they now are, and that their population had been melted down by this disease, whereof nine-tenths of them have died.” (Zinn). This shows that when the disease was brought over by Columbus and his crew, who are referred to as ‘the Christians’, the majority of their people got sick and died. This is key because Columbus introduced a disease that killed off 90% of the Native American population. Another example of how the population declined due to disease is a statistic that shows how the population in 1517 of 722,000 decreases in the next hundred years to 36,450 people (“Digital History”). This is because when Columbus came over, he introduced many new disease, such as small pox, measles, and influenza, to which the Native Americans had no immunity to.
This is important because it proves that Columbus introduced new diseases, killing much of the Native American population. In addition, a book was written in the sixteenth century about the outbreak of disease, and it explains, “Now the people were overcome by intense cold and fever, blood came out of their noses, then came a cough growing worse and worse, the neck was twisted, and small and large sores broke out on them. The disease attacked everyone here.” (“Module 01…”). This shows that after Columbus had come over to the Americas, people started getting sick with a disease the Natives had never encountered before. This is valuable because it shows just how sick everyone got, and how large of an effect Columbus had on the Native Americans. As is shown, Christopher Columbus was a villain because he introduced new diseases to Native Americans, killing a great number of them.
“Columbus Controversy.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2013. Web. 23 Oct. 2013. . “Digital History.” Digital History. Digital History, 26 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 2013. Halsall, Paul. “Medieval Sourcebook: Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal.” Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Fordham University, Mar. 1996. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. “The Letter of Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabel.” Prenhall. Prenhall.com, 2013. Web. 27 Oct. 1013. “Module 01: Demographic Catastrophe — What Happened to the Native Population After 1492?” Evidence Detail. Digital History Reader, 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. Zinn, Howard. “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress.” Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress. History Is a Weapon, 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.