Christopher Columbus: Villain Or Hero? Essay

2037 words - 8 pages

For more than five centuries Americans have lifted Christopher Columbus to heights of greatness and god-like. We celebrate his life as though he was a man that had done us a great favor. In resent years Christopher Columbus has come under scrutiny, his life and works being questioned more than celebrated. There have be many great men and women that contributed to the building of our great nation but they do not receive anywhere as much recognition as Columbus. When a person begins to study the actual accounts of the "finding of the New World" they begin to wonder if Columbus should adored or hated for his actions. As a child I was taught that Columbus was a great man that had accomplished great things for the sake of humanity, but in reality his agenda was not to better humanity but to better himself. He found the Americas by mere chance and he did not even know of what he found. We give him credit for "finding" the Americas but history tells of the people, that he called Indians, already inhabiting the foreign land. So you decide whether or not Christopher Columbus should be revered a hero.
Columbus' original plan was to prove that early geographers were wrong and that the world was larger than computed (William Howarth). He had sponsorship from the King and Queen of Spain who were finally convinced by Columbus by his belief that he was a divine missionary, ordained by God to spread Christianity (P. J. Riga). When he got to the New World he had found that there was the possibility that there might be an abundance of gold, and gold was the commodity Columbus pursued with obsessive zeal (William Howarth). It would seem to be an item that he had a lust for more than anything. An elder on Tortuga described "within a hundred or more leagues . . . an island that was all gold . . . such a quantity that it is collected and separated as with a sieve; and they melt it and make bars and a thousand objects." The credulous Admiral soon hauled anchor and departed. Gold became his journey's fleece and grail. A few days before departure he was still tracking rumors about "an exceedingly great quantity of gold" in Hispaniola, "where he could get it for nothing." That search continued on all four of his voyages, but the Indies never yielded him much treasure (William Howarth).
Columbus' journey didn't start out to be a bad idea, he even gave examples of how he tried to reason and befriend the indigenous people of the Americas. "I," he says, "in order that they would be friendly to us--because I recognized that they were people who would be better freed [from error] and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force--to some of them I gave red caps, and glass beads which they put on their chests, and many other things of small value in which they took so much pleasure and became so much our friends that it was a marvel" (Columbus Quote from Christian History). Columbus did do the world a great service when he made his exploration and some people would argue...

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