University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Say No to Columbus Day
It is my belief that although many people celebrate the holiday of Columbus Day, that it should be celebrated because Christopher Columbus was not who he had seemed to be. I have learned that not only did he not know where he was, but he wasn’t even the first to discover the New World. He also committed a mass genocide against the Arawak’s. Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. Columbus Day was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century but did not become a federal holiday until the 1937. For many, the holiday is a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage. Throughout its history, Columbus Day and the man who inspired it have generated controversy, and many alternatives to the holiday have appeared in recent years
When Columbus first arrived at the Bahamas, he was greeted by the Arawak Indians who showered him and his crew with gifts and food. After being around them for some time, he decided to take the search for valuable items to a new level. He took some of the people by force and demanded to know where the materials like gold and such were located and then he forced them to show him and start to find them, sort of like slaves. He also learned that the Arawak people were so generous that they would give him anything he asked them for; he then proceeded to ask them for nearly all of their belongings which had any monetary value. The fact of him doing this is easily enough to prove that he was just out for money and did not care about any of the Arawak Indians or his crew for that matter. He is said to have been greedy enough to take credit for finding land even though a crew member, Rodrigo, had found it first and it is also said that he is to have taken the $10,000 yearly pension for life (Source B).
The second treachery Columbus was a part of was the taking of the Arawak Indians as slaves and servants, here is a quote from his journal: “They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them and make them do whatever we want” (Source B). This just shows that he is a man who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings and is perfectly fine with killing and enslavement, two things America is against. In total, the records show that originally, Columbus rounded up 1,500 Indians, he chose 500 as the best, killed the other 1,000, and 200 died on the ship due to poor living conditions and starvation. The 300 who were left were auctioned off as slaves in Spain. Nearly all of the rest of the Arawak people were killed by foreign disease.
A third and final reason why we should not celebrate Columbus Day is because Christopher Columbus did not find North America on purpose and he was also not the first to find the continent. Leif Ericsson of the Vikings found North America and had already established a settlement in Nova Scotia by the time Christopher Columbus found his way here which just proves that his skills as a navigator and a sailor were not even very great, if he kept sailing to Asia and had not found North America, he would have done a circle around the world, missed Asia and ran into Africa.
Many Americans view Columbus as a heroic figure whom is celebrated every year. Children look up to him, as an amazing person for being able to “discover” America and citizens are able to spend a whole day off from work/school to reflect on his greatness. However, this greatness should in no way be glorified, because it is absurd to call Columbus a hero. Columbus had taken credit for things that he didn’t accomplish, brutally abused Native Americans and caused slave trade, which led to mistreatment of Native Americans for years to come. I strongly believe that Columbus day should not be celebrated because of the torture, slavery, and lying that was caused by him.
Columbus had taken credit for things that he didn’t accomplish. He wasn’t the first to discover America since there were already people living there and others had known about this land. Also, there was a myth being taught at schools that had said Columbus was the one to prove the earth was round. Many educated Europeans had already believed in the world not being flat during the time of Columbus. However, those who didn’t agree with this statement mocked the ones who did. Lastly, Columbus was not the first non-American to discover the new world. “There is, indeed, considerable evidence that people from all around the world, including Europe, had visited the Americas for trade, fishing, refuge, and even settlement.” (Source: Why We Should Abolish Columbus Day by G Rebecca Dobbs) Therefore, Columbus had not truly succeeded in the things we know about him and did more negative things than positive.
Columbus Day, a holiday dedicated to the famous explorer for his achievement of arriving in the New World. We construct plays, arrange parades, and have erected monuments of Columbus to praise him for his discovery; for he had triggered the wave of European interest in the Americas. When it comes to the roots of Columbus’s arrival in Hispaniola, most people think that he arrived on an island with primitive natives who gladly gave up their land to him…without so much as a complaint. Only recently have the true accounts of his expedition come to light. Nowadays, the innocent and naive tale of Columbus’s discovery has turned into a story about a horrifying and unjust conquering of a land, and the domination of its inhabitants. When Christopher Columbus arrived in Hispaniola in 1492, he had thought that he arrived in India, and he expected for the land to be inhabited by the Indians. Instead he landed in present day Hispaniola, which was home to the friendly, and defenseless, Arawak people (also known as the Taino people). They had never seen Europeans before with their giant ships, extravagant clothing, and strange language; so they were excited and interested in meeting Columbus and his crew.
The Arawak brought the Europeans gifts, food, and water. They wanted to open their home to the newcomers, and hoped to be able to become acquaintances with them and that they would trade with each other. Instead of returning the natives’ generosity and kindness, Columbus treated them cruelly, by making them slaves and forcing them to work to exhaustion and death, slaughtering thousands of men, women, and children till there was only five hundred Arawaks left by 1550, and not giving them enough food, so they died from famish.
Christopher Columbus has been viewed as a hero for several centuries. Children in elementary schools all over the nation are taught that he discovered America. However, there were many other people who were indigenous to the land already and the Vikings arrived in America almost 500 years before Columbus. Christopher Columbus, as it turned out, was responsible for widespread genocide; he permitted his men to rape, murder, mutilate and enslave indigenous people. The evil deeds of Columbus far outweigh the few accomplishments he achieved.
It doesn’t make sense for the United States to recognize this supposed Christian with a national holiday, so America should stop celebrating Columbus Day. The initial recorded Columbus Day celebration in the United States was on October 12, 1792. Nevertheless, the first official Columbus Day happened in 1892, when President Harrison issued a proclamation for Americans to commemorate the day. The Knights of Columbus lobbied state legislatures to legalize the holiday. Colorado did so on April 1, 1907. New York followed suit in 1909. In 1971, Columbus Day was designated as a federal holiday on the second Monday of October (Library of Congress).