Monday, October 11, 2010

Chistopher Columbus' Own Words

Some people honor Christopher Columbus, as the US government does with the federal holiday today, and others, especially Native Americans, think he was an evil man driven by greed and domination.

YOU DECIDE FOR YOURSELF. These are his actual words chronicling his voyage to the "new world" which is present-day Bahamas.
The Admiral called upon the two Captains, and the rest of the crew who bear witness that he before all others took possession of that island for the King and Queen his sovereigns. Numbers of the people of the island straightway collected together. Here follow the precise words of the Admiral: "As I saw that they were very friendly to us...I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us. They all go completely naked...well made, with fine shapes and faces. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance.

I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold. I gathered from them by signs that by going southward or steering round the island in that direction, there would be found a king who possessed large vessels of gold, and in great quantities. I endeavored to procure them to lead the way thither... The natives are an inoffensive people. I do not, however, see the necessity of fortifying the place, as the people here are simple in war-like matters, as your Highnesses will see by those seven which I have ordered to be taken and carried to Spain in order to learn our language and return, unless your Highnesses should choose to have them all transported to Castile, or held captive in the island. I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I pleased.

It appeared to them that we were honest people.... according to the account of the natives on board, there is much gold, the inhabitants wearing it in bracelets upon their arms, legs, and necks, as well as in their ears and at their noses. They are all extremely verdant and fertile, with the air agreeable, and probably contain many things of which I am ignorant, not inclining to stay here, but visit other islands in search of gold... or spices in abundance. And considering the indications of it among the natives who wear it upon their arms and legs, and having ascertained that it is the true metal by showing them some pieces of it which I have with me, I cannot find the place which produces it.

It appears to me, that the people are indigenous, and would be good servants. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language.
We all know how this story ends...

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