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Christopher Columbus is historically revered because of positive contribution brought about by his voyages such as founding of New Lands, introduction of new agricultural methods and fostering interaction among others. However, many historians have viewed Christopher’s Columbus legacy on a different perspective.
They claim that his voyages were flawed as illustrated by preparing New Lands for Spanish colonization, slavery, spread of diseases and plundering of wealth in discovered lands.
In analyzing Christopher’s Columbus, and comprehending his ambition and ideas of his voyages in the Americas, this paper analyzes various aspects of his voyages and how it impacted on the society.
Christopher Columbus lived during a period when Europeans encountered various challenges. According to Butterway (24) these challenges were mainly brought about by religious oppression, famine, and diseases. During his years of exploration, there was an ongoing discussion of Spanish looking for a direct trade route to the West Indies.
According to Butterway (38), the fallacy anchored on the aim of Christopher’s voyages was that he was not motivated by the possibility of gaining more wealth for himself and his Spanish government, but to construct the New world for Spanish colonization Christianity that would necessitate future colonization (Gregory, 75).
Christopher had a strong catholic faith and a firm believer of the Bible; therefore, it was a role for him to expand his believes of Christianity in the Americas.
Christopher sailed across the oceans for almost 1492 days (McNeese, 13). Thus, through his voyages, he opened up New Lands such as the Caribbean islands and countries such as the Tobago and Trinidad for Europeans.
Many cities, towns and streets have also been named after Christopher Columbus. In some of his many voyages, Christopher can be described as a role model of perseverance and courage, a prudent navigator, “the icon of America evolution”.
This is because; his discovery of new territories provided an opportunity for the growth of trade, science and contemporary edifices of administration.
Intends in the Caribbean islands
Christopher Columbus description by Native Americans is that he was a fascinating and friendly person the world has ever produced. This fact is asserted by himself in one of his diaries when he affirmed that, no other man had ever encountered people with a good heart like the natives than himself (Butterway, 79).
Thus, through this interpretation, we can understand that Christopher’s conveyed a message that, his intents was refined to exploit the New Lands he voyaged.
According to Butterway, However, in he challenges himself when he refers to Taino Indians, a generation of Indians descendants of the Caribbean as sub-humans (112). He could not believe that they were fellow human being.
New Ways of Agricultural Practices
Many people believe that Christopher was one of the ultimate benefactors of all time. McNeese asserts this when he introduced agricultural activities to the lands he visited (76). Thus, this provided contact opportunity for both old and new world.
Consequently, he continued to introduce new and useful plants such as the oranges, tomatoes, which later formed as an important ingredient in Italian cuisine, and wheat in America to New Lands (McNeese, 97). Besides these, he surged different kinds of foods from plants and animal sources.
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However, critics of Christopher claim that he was a desperado. They criticize that, Christopher ruined the existing beauty of New Lands, with his enthusiasm of greed and fame.
Further, they argue that, he and his men raped the lands and women spreading diseases such as syphilis acquired in Europe, thus this caused a lot of death and destabilizing the civilization which had stabilized for hundreds of years (Butterway, 97).
Environmentalist, on the other hand, critics that, Christopher by introducing the art of animal farming, it contributed to the destruction of the countryside and its flora. They also contend that he introduced diseases which the Natives lacked immunity.
More than ninety percent of the natives died by the new generation of diseases introduced such as the; plague, tuberculosis and smallpox. Consequently, his voyages in the Northern Hemisphere were regarded as an opportunity of conquering but an opportunity of bringing new ideas and discoveries.
Interestingly, Christopher and his did not consider the ill of stealing or taking by force from the Indians. They felt that, it was their right to steal or take by force when the Indians resisted what they wanted.
Therefore, the majority of Indians believed that this was one of the different cultures introduced by Christopher and his men (Gregory, 128). The culture of stealing developed within the Indian society because they felt that it was appropriate to steal.
They began stealing from the Spanish. However, Columbus realized that it was indispensable to instill discipline by punishing the Indians when they found with stolen items.
Strategies for Acquiring Wealth and Consequences
Gregory points out that Columbus other purpose was to increase wealth by trading in spices and gold (97). Thrilled with immense deposits of gold, in the Caribbean’s he established a three month quota system.
These meant that, every Indian in the Caribbean island regardless of being a man woman or child over the age of 14, were supposed to deliver the set quota every month (Butterway, 79). Were the quota were not realized, Christopher would order severe punishment of chopping off their arms with an axe.
This punishment aimed at setting an example for other Indians who did not honor the three quota system. Christopher warranted his actions by sending heathens to Spain while chained rather than Christians. This indicates that, he was cruel and power thirsty in the islands of the Caribbean.
Colonization and Slavery
Christopher discovery of the Caribbean island is linked to the rise of Spanish colonization and the enslaving of the natives. The inspiration of Christopher and his men was slavery, by finding Caribbean islands suitable; he invited his government the suitability of regions in serving the Spanish interests in terms of economic resources.
This was in terms of free and cheap labor through slavery and raw materials (McNeese, 123). Presence of Spanish administration ensured that his interests remained protected. Slavery was essential for him because he needed money to pay for the sponsors who funded his voyages.
He would order large slave assault by his men. This was an option taken to fill his ship when he realized the amount of gold and spices collected was relatively low. For instance, the Arawak community was affected in the Caribbean; he captured large numbers of men, women and children and shipped them to Spain.
However, the saddest part of the fact is that, most of them died along the voyage before finally arriving in Spain. This clearly indicates that he was an autocrat and was never satisfied with the new world he had discovered and all the beauty it provided. Hence, this subsequently led to the establishment of the great Trans-Atlantic slave route.
The Christopher voyages accompanying his legacy had a significant impact on the society, both positively and negatively. His voyages transformed the world from old to the New world. This can be demonstrated by design brought about by the interaction of people from across Americas and other places he visited.
Besides, his steadfastness as a navigator and mariner, the sheer force of his spirituality, personal motivation, courage, endurance, courage and his prowess as a voyager are still felt in the contemporary world.
Also, his arrival in the America numerous positive and harmful experienced have continued to define the contemporary world.
For example, positive contribution introduced includes; tomato into Italian cuisine and wheat in the United States mainland. Without his numerous voyages, the world in which we feel proud of now would not have existed (Gregory, 83).
Further, his ardent faith in Christianity contributed to spreading of Christianity to the Indians. This led to mass conversions of Indians to Christianity. This can be illustrated in the descendants of Arawaks and Tianos Indians (McNeese, 126).
Butterway, Elizabeth Georgia, A Critical Analysis of the Works on Christopher Columbus, London: History Press, 1933
Gregory, M Gordon. Retrieving the American Past, New Jersey: Pearson publishers, 2010
McNeese, Tim. Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the Americas, New York: InfoBase publishing, 2005