What Really Happened in 1492?

Essay by mprzekwas01College, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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Przekwas 1

Mary Przekwas

October 20, 2014

What Really Happened in 1492?

The Columbian quincentennial in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus's voyage to North America, sparked a national criticism over the true history of Christopher Columbus. History textbooks have relentlessly taught American schoolchildren that Columbus was a heroic explorer whose daring, perseverance, and navigational knowledge led to the 'discovery' of America. However, almost overnight, historians decided to examine his voyages and revealed that he was a brutal ruler who ushered in centuries of death and oppression for the native civilizations. Henceforth, conflict now surrounds Columbus Day, and teachers are confronted each year whether to even teach the history of Columbus. Most concluded that the voyage of Columbus in 1492 is a turning point in world history since it produced international globalization. In fact, the voyages of Columbus offer unlimited teaching opportunities for students to understand the dynamics of international commerce.

Therefore, in order to provide the actual meaning of the year 1492, teachers must explain the reality, social transformation, and the foundations of globalization without glorifying or denigrating Columbus achievements.

In today's society, Christopher Columbus's reputation has not survived the myths provided by middle school textbooks since many records and documents from astound historians are discrediting his voyages significance. For example, Columbus's voyages have no meaning for North Americans since he never settled on this continent; he landed in the Caribbean. In fact, Columbus never set foot in present-day America. Another myth disproven was that Columbus was the first navigator to sail west, yet there are records indicating that the Scandinavian Vikings already "landed in the Americas in the eleventh century before Columbus". Additionally, many Americans view Columbus as a heroic and humble man, but on the contrary, he captured a multitude of Indian slaves and transported them to...