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Columbus DBQ – “Great Disease Migration”

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    Taking into consideration the moral standards of the 1490’s Europe, Christopher Columbus is clearly guilty of the crimes against him. The crimes are as follows: he and his men were responsible for the deaths of many of the indigenous people referred to by Columbus as “Indians,” and accused of causing ecological devastation through the importing of plant and animal life not native to the Western Hemisphere. Columbus physically interacted with the Native Americans by using force to get what he wanted, and carried out massacres and strange cruelties to the defenseless men, women, and children of the Indian tribes.

    Columbus also started what is called the “Great Disease Migration” by bringing dangerous diseases into a world venerable to these diseases. When the Native Americans spotted the first European settlers, they felt fearful and timid because these people that they had never seen before were invading their territory and claiming it for themselves. To top it off, some of the Europeans used brutal force to boss around the Native Americans. Christopher Columbus, in his letter to Lord Sanchez in 1493, said “…but because they are timid and full of fear” (Doc A).

    Columbus realizes this weakness, and utilizes it to get what he wants. The Indians, like many people, were not too fond of the Europeans taking over their land. The Aztec’s fear was driven by the gods they worshiped, which led them to fear any visitors they encountered. When the Spaniards invaded the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs fought back and used the captives’ hearts to sacrifice to their gods, especially Huitzilopochtli, whom they feared the most. The diseases Columbus brought over from the Old World to the New World were immensely dangerous to the Native Americans.

    Basically any European who crossed the Atlantic during the 16th century had battled illnesses, such as smallpox and measles, during childhood and emerged fully immune. This meant that anyone who was not immune to these diseases would have to suffer the effects of them, significantly decreasing the Indian population. At the time when Columbus arrived in the New World, there were approximately 30 million Native Americans already living in the Americas. 50 years later, the Native American population became roughly 3 million.

    This is because when the newcomers arrived, carrying mumps, measles, whooping cough, smallpox, cholera, gonorrhea, and yellow fever, the Indians were immunologically defenseless. Christopher Columbus and his European voyagers killed and wounded many Native Americans for no apparent reason. Hispaniola was the first land in the New World to be destroyed and depopulated by the Christians, and here they began their subjection of the women and children, taking them away from the Indians to use them and ill use them, eating their food provided with their sweat and toil.

    Some Indians concealed their foods while others concealed their wives and children and still others fled to the mountains to avoid the terrible transactions of the Christians. The Spanish conquerors, or Conquistadors, migrated to Mexico, where they whipped out the Incan and Aztec Empires to gain control of Mexico. Christians attacked the towns and spared neither the children nor the aged nor pregnant women, women in childbed, not only stabbing them and dismembering them but cutting them into pieces as if dealing with sheep in the slaughter house.

    Christopher Columbus, in his letter to Lord Sanchez, said “On my arrival at that sea, I had taken some Indians by force from the first island that I came to” (Doc A). Based on all of this evidence against Christopher Columbus, we can conclude that the founder of the New World is guilty of the crimes he is being charged for. Columbus was very aggressive; he therefore struck immense fear into the Native Americans. This fear may have caused future events such as the First and Second Anglo-Powhatan wars, repetitive attacks of the Indians on the European settlers, and the seven year French and Indian War.

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    Columbus DBQ – “Great Disease Migration”. (2017, Feb 10). Retrieved from

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