Inthe letter that Christopher Columbus wrote to Luis de Santangel regarding theresults of his first voyage in 1493 demonstrated several problems inColumbus’ breakthroughs, aside from his comprehension of what he uncovered. Wheninterpreting the letter, I observed Columbus’ egotism. He appeared to be providingadmiration to the King and Queen of Spain, but in actuality, he was only braggingabout his own accomplishments. Columbus composes, “Since I know that you willbe pleased at the great victory with which Our Lord has crowned my voyage, Iwrite this to you, from which you will learn how in thirty-three days I passedfrom the Canary Islands to the Indies, with the fleet which the mostillustrious king and queen, our sovereigns, gave to me. There I found very manyislands, filled with people innumerable, and of them all I have takenpossession for their highnesses, by proclamation made and with the royalstandard unfurled, and no opposition was offered to me.”1In this situation, Columbus tells of his outcomes from the expedition andcommunicates what it encompassed, and how it was proficient.
Alternatively, a characteristic of theletter that struck me was Columbus’ stance on the indigenous people. He was betweenpoint of views in that he mentioned his appreciation towards the natives and thenprogressed to present them as non-humans. In the book named, The Mysterious History of Columbus: AnExploration of the Man, the Myth, the Legacy, written by John Noble Wilford,the writer indicates, “The Spanish would engage in fervent debate over thejustice and morality of their treatment of the Indians. Were these people trulyhuman? If so, under what circumstances was it just to make war on and enslaveother humans?”2 Heregularly designates them as “incurably timid,”3but does not delve into the treatment of them. Thus, we can only infer based onsurrounding clues. These portrayals of the indigenous people make Columbus holdsupreme power and authority.
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“It is true that, after they have been reassuredand have lost this fear, they are so guileless and so generous with all thatthey possess, that no one would believe it who has not seen it. They refusenothing that they possess, if it be asked of them; on the contrary, they inviteany one to share it and display as much love as if they would give theirhearts.”4Columbus labeled the Indians and pronounced them as a people for who he has tomaintain. He clarifies that while they were eager to accept small, yetvalueless pieces from Spain, he did not want the natives to obtain these gifts.Columbus desired to offer the Indians the magnificent items he possessed.Columbus says, “They are content with whatever trifle of whatever kind it maybe that is given to them, whether it be of value or valueless. I forbade thatthey should be given things so worthless as fragments of broken crockery,scraps of broken glass and ends of straps, although when they were able to getthem, they fancied that they possessed the best jewel in the world.
“5Combined with putting the indigenous people down, Columbus is also givinghimself honor.Columbus is the type of person I assumed hewas after reading this letter,which is self-centered and arrogant. This is due to the fact that hisattributes and his dominance can be perceived as thoughtful and compassionatein the eyes of others. In reality, we are aware that Columbus is understood ina variety of means currently. There are facets of his explorations and his loggingof his encounters that can be complimented and recognized, but there areseveral additional aspects of his trips that cannot be overlooked. For example,in the book, The Life of ChristopherColumbus, written by Charles Desilver, he proclaims, “They all gave thanksto God, kneeling upon the shore, shedding tears of joy for the great mercyreceived.
The admiral rose, and called the island San Salvador. The Indianscalled it Guanahani, and it is now called Cat Island. It belongs to that groupin the Bahamas. Many of the natives came down to witness this ceremony. Theywere very peaceable and quiet people, and the admiral gave them some red caps,glass beads, and a few other trifles of small value, with which they were muchdelighted.”6 Hereand in other instances, Columbus claims that he was not challenged by resistanceor conflict from the indigenous people of the islands. When he declares theland in the name of the Spanish monarchy, Columbus engaging in this withminimal hostility seems doubtful. “When the admiral and his companion returned totheir vessels, the natives followed them in large numbers.
Some swam; otherswent in their canoes, carrying parrots, spun cotton, javelins, and otherarticles, to exchange for hawks’ bells, and strings of beads. They wententirely naked seeming to be very poor and simple.”7This shows that the Indians could have caused trouble for Columbus and his crewof men, judging by what the natives were trailing Columbus’ crew with. Because of the slight number of sources thatexist, it is difficult to comprehend the indigenous people’s outlook. Theirexperiences during Columbus’ presence are expressed in a considerate fashion.For Columbus and Spain, it is proved to be humane, but because he is one of theearliest surveyors to expose these islands, people do not expect there to beclashes. We see this solely from the standpoint of Columbus in The Mysterious History of Columbus: AnExploration of the Man, the Myth, the Legacy.
The author points the readersin the direction of a setting where Columbus has a “friendly and approachable”encounter with the natives. “But Columbus had remained long enough to betouched by the people of Guanahani. They were gentle and friendly. They werepoor, too, as he adduced, and generous. ‘It seemed to me that they were apeople poor in everything’, he wrote. ‘They gave everything for anything thatwas given to them.
“8 The fact that fighting did not take place (asfar as we can distinguish) signifies that there will be peace between Columbusand his men, and the Indians. Anothermajor supposition about the document is that there has to be a meaning behind theabundant features that Columbus specifies about the island of Hispaniola. Thiscan be depicted in the book, The FourVoyages of Christopher Columbus, edited and translated by J.
M. Cohen.Columbus speaks about Hispaniola. “Hispaniola is a wonder. The mountains andhills, the plains and meadow lands are both fertile and beautiful. They are mostsuitable for planting crops and for raising cattle of all kinds, and there aregood sites for building towns and villages.”9This insinuates that Columbus may have established himself on Hispaniola sinceit had the greatest assets, environment, and atmosphere.
It seems as though Hispaniolawas Columbus’ preferred location and island as told in the letter. “Theharbours are incredibly fine and there are many great rivers with broadchannels and the majority contain gold. The trees, fruits and plants are verydifferent from those of Cuba. In Hispaniola there are many spices and largemines of gold and other metals.”10Some of this content he glistens is exaggerated and stretched to the pointwhere he almost makes the audience feel a certain emotion of proudness andsatisfaction. As a final point, in his letter, ChristopherColumbus asserts to have publicized and taken ownership of a multitude ofislands.
The letter explains the results and consequences of the voyage, and qualitiesthe islands that were discovered by Columbus in the West Indies. Columbus wrotethe letter in order to become financed to go back over to the Americas. Thisway, he could find gold and Christianize the natives. This letter was intendedto address Luis de Santangel who was a priest. Interestingly, Luis de Santangelwas a baptized Jew and finance minister to King Ferdinand ofSpain. De Santangel convinced the Spanish monarchy to support ChristopherColumbus’ voyage in 1492. Possibly, if it were not for De Santangel, Columbuswould have not been able to proceed with his explorations. 1 “Early Americas Digital Archive.
“Columbus, Letter to Santangel | Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA). 2003.http://eada.
lib.umd.edu/text-entries/columbus-letter-to-santangel/.2 John Noble Wilford. The Mysterious History of Columbus: An Exploration of the Man, theMyth, the Legacy (New York: Vintage Books, 1991): p. 179.3 Early Americas Digital Archive.
“Columbus, Letter to Santangel | Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA). 2003.http://eada.lib.umd.edu/text-entries/columbus-letter-to-santangel/.4 Early Americas Digital Archive.
“Columbus, Letter to Santangel | Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA). 2003.http://eada.lib.umd.edu/text-entries/columbus-letter-to-santangel/.
5 Early Americas Digital Archive.”Columbus, Letter to Santangel | Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA). 2003.
http://eada.lib.umd.edu/text-entries/columbus-letter-to-santangel/.6 Charles Desilver. The Life of Christopher Columbus (Philadelphia: 1865): p.
45.7 Charles Desilver. The Life of Christopher Columbus (Philadelphia: 1865): p. 46-47.8 John Noble Wilford.
The Mysterious History of Columbus: An Exploration of the Man, theMyth, the Legacy (New York: Vintage Books, 1991): p. 149.9 J.M. Cohen. The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus (Baltimore: Penguin Books,1969): p.
117. 10 J.M. Cohen. The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus (Baltimore: Penguin Books,1969): p. 117.