In “honor” of Columbus Day, I am posting an essay the boy wrote last year, in his 5th grade class.
Columbus Is Not a Hero
An Essay By Doodles
First, some background info. Columbus came to the Americas to do two things: Get rich (find gold) and claim land for Spain. In the year 1492 he landed on the island of Hispaniola (now called Haiti). There, he met the native people, called the Táinos. Now why is Columbus not a hero? Here’s why:
One reason Christopher Columbus is not a hero is that he completely wiped out the Táino people. Today, because of Columbus, there are no pure blood Táino people left in the world. Before Columbus came to the Americas, some people estimated that there were about 1,000,000 native Táinos, now there are 0. Big fat ZERO. Why? Because of Columbus’ lasting effects, there are no pure-blood Táinos left in the world.
Another reason Columbus is not a hero is that he demanded gold from the natives when their land had little gold. In his journal Columbus wrote: “There was land at the south as well as at the southwest and northwest and those from the northwest came many times and fought with them and proceeded on to the southwest in search of gold and precious stones.” It says right there that Columbus, “fought with them … search of gold and precious stones.”
Basically, Columbus is even telling us straight out that he fought the natives to get gold! The Táino tried to explain to Columbus that there was little gold in the land, but he would not listen. If they brought him no gold he would cut their hands off. How can we paint a picture of a hero from that? And, he has his own holiday (Columbus day in October to commemorate Columbus landing in the New World)! The land had very little gold but he was greedy. So he enslaved the Táinos and made them give him gold. They had to melt down all their gold jewelry and items to give to Columbus. When those ran out they had to scavenge the land for gold. This is part of how Columbus killed off all the Táino people.
And the most important reason Columbus is not a hero is that Columbus started the European Slave Trade by taking a bunch of Táino men and bringing them to Europe. Once they got there he sold them as a form of slave labor. Anyone who is a slave trader is evil! The slave trade that Columbus started lasted for over 400 years! In his own journal Columbus wrote: “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, 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.” He took some of the natives by force in order to learn… isn’t that the definition of a slave? Taking them by force and basically making them be Columbus’ guide? This slave trade included people from Africa as well and North America. So that means Columbus’ evil lasted for more than a hundred years after he died.
Finally, Columbus is not a hero because he bartered with the Táinos unfairly. In Columbus’ journal he wrote: “The natives are an inoffensive people, and so desirous to possess any thing they saw with us, that they kept swimming off to the ships with whatever they could find, and readily bartered for any article we saw fit to give them in return, even such as broken platters and fragments of glass. I saw in this manner sixteen balls of cotton thread which weighed above twenty-five pounds, given for three Portuguese ceutis.” They gave Columbus and his crew things that are valuable to The Táinos and Columbus gave them back trash! I mean, broken platters and fragments of glass! That hardly sounds fair!
Because of these reasons, I don’t like Christopher Columbus, but what really ticks me off is that we have an entire holiday devoted to him! I mean, sure, he discovered the Americas, but he killed thousands of Native Americans in the process. So, next Columbus Day ask yourself: “Who are we really commemorating here? A hero who found the Americas or a no-good dirty killer who wiped out an entire race of people?”
If we think of Columbus as a hero we are tragically wrong. In my opinion Christopher Columbus is not a hero because he wiped out an entire race of people, he demanded gold when the Táinos were unable to give gold to him, he killed them all when they rightfully rebelled against him, and he started the European Slave Trade. In conclusion, I think that Christopher Columbus is not a hero.
Find out more about Columbus! Here are some websites that I used:
History Channel: http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus
Enchanted Learning: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/explorers/page/c/columbus.shtml
Fordham University (Most of the things from Columbus’ journal): http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.asp