How should scholars view the legacy of conquistador Christopher Colombus?

Essay by guererrieHigh School, 10th gradeA, June 2014

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How should scholars view the legacy of conquistador Christopher Columbus?

On August 3, 1492 Italian navigator Christopher Columbus sailed from Palos de la Frontera, Spain on a mission to find an alternative route to the East Indies. More than two months later Columbus and his crew arrived at the Bahamian Islands. It is said, that "Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the islands beaches," in awe of Columbus's "Strange big boat" (Zinn 1). Due to Columbus's "discovery" of the Americas, the American people have celebrated Columbus Day on the second Monday of October since 1905. The first state to make Columbus Day an official holiday was Colorado. In 1971 President Nixon proclaimed Columbus Day to be a federal holiday (Early American History 10). Growing up we hear the story of Christopher Columbus the hero, the man that founded the place we live today.

However that is not the whole story. What happens to be left out of Columbus's heroic journey is all of the enslavement and killing of the Native American peoples. Columbus did not "discover" the Americas, he terrorized an already inhabited land and led their civilization to mass suicide and tyranny. If we celebrate Columbus, we celebrate everything that we as Americans do not believe in.

Columbus bumped into the Americas by accident. He was looking for an alternate path to the East Indies and ended up on the Bahamian Coast. Columbus was not even the first man to see land. On October 12th, one of his crew members, Rodrigo, first sighted the land. There was a reward for the first man who saw land, and naturally Columbus lied and said that he had "seen a light the night before" (Zinn 2). When he arrived approximately 90 million people...