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Columbus Hero or Villain

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On Monday, October 14th, citizens all around America commemorate Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of the new world. However, beneath the American flags and fireworks, many of the horrors of his voyage have gone untold. Throughout his expeditions, Columbus terrorized the Taínos people, which ultimately lead to mass genocide. Christopher Columbus has been regarded as both a hero and a villain. However, due to his cruelty with the Tainos and his abuse of political power, he must be seen as a villain Often, historical perspectives from minorities are lost in the history books and replaced with accounts from the colonizers. This was especially the case with regards to the Arawaks and Taínos peoples in the Caribbean.

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Throughout his four voyages, Columbus came into contact with the majority of the Caribbean sea, causing him to meet the tribes of that area of the world. Columbus told his men to, “spread fear into the hearts of the Tainos when there were rumors of a resistance,” (Zinn Education Project) and in order to understand the genocide and oppression against the Tainos, one must closely examine his policies and his journal. From the first of his visits to Hispanola, Columbus had taken Taino Indians as proof of life. An excerpt from his journal reads, “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts” (Journal of the first voyage of Columbus, 2003). All that Columbus wanted was to extract valuable resources from the land and to abuse his power over the native people. Throughout American history, Columbus has been regarded as a hero, however only his account of the voyage has survived over time, and to properly understand what really happened in the west, one must remember the perspectives of the Arawak. Since Columbus and his men killed the population, there are no direct accounts of the cruelties they faced. However, one can acknowledge the struggle and pain that they went through. Before Columbus arrived there were millions of Tainos Indians, according to a Spanish priest, however when he departed in 1542 there were only 200 left (Zinn Education Project). Throughout the years, the voices of the Tainos were lost, but now we can learn about their culture, beliefs, and the hardships they faced. As well as being a violent killer, Columbus was a political tyrant who believed that the laws did not apply to him throughout his governorship of, “the new world.”

The objective of Christopher Columbus’s voyage was to find a new route to India, however, he also wanted to gain significant wealth and power. Columbus, King Ferdinand, and Queen Isabella of Spain struck a deal called The Capitulations of Santa Fe, which entitled him to govern and viceroy of all land he discovered (Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain, Myint). Columbus was also entitled to 10% of any precious items he found along his voyage, such as the gold found on Hispanola. Although his intentions may have been noble at the beginning, this deal suggests that his actions were far from selfless. In 1949, the Spanish monarchy heard the tales of cruelty and barbarism coming from Columbus and his men towards

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Columbus Hero or Villain. (2022, February 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Columbus Hero or Villain.” Edubirdie, 26 Feb. 2022,
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Columbus Hero or Villain [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 26 [cited 2024 Feb 26]. Available from:
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