Oct 13 2015
Kidnapper’s Day. That what we should call it. On his second voyage, Christopher Columbus was ordered by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to be friendly and even loving to the native peoples of the Caribbean. What did Columbus do? He sent the King and Queen a letter a few months later, asking to take some natives to Spain as slaves. They rejected his request. But this scoundrel did it anyway.
Columbus kidnapped 1,600 people from the Arawak tribe and took them to the Carib tribe. His boats would only hold 1,200 so 400 were released.
Columbus also kidnapped 560 Arawak people and brought them back to Spain. Two hundred died during the voyage. And half of the remainder were ill when they arrived.
We view Columbus as brave. That’s like labeling Ted Bundy as creative for how he killed people.
Columbus was a greed monster, obsessed with his own glory. His “bravery” was only the self-seeking kind. Not finding much readily-available gold on Hispaniola, Columbus ordered that every native Indian bring a quota of gold to him every three months. In exchange, they were given a copper coin they had to wear to prove their obedience to the law. If they were found not to have the coin, their hands would be cut off and they would bleed to death. Virtually no natives obeyed and the law was hardly ever enforced, but it gives one insight into the type of man he was.
He was a liar and a tyrant (people called him the “tyrant of the Caribbean”). He was a kidnapper and a murderer. These are not hyperbolic words I’m using. They’re real adjectives that accurately describe him. He was a scoundrel. He is the man that setup the Caribbean to be a brutal place of slavery in the 16th-, 17th-, and 18th centuries. He paved the way for a place described by historian Ron Chernow…
“The Caribbean sugar economy was a system of inimitable savagery, making the tobacco and cotton plantations of the American south seem almost genteel by comparison. The mortality rate of slaves hacking away at sugarcane under a pitiless tropical sun was simply staggering: three out of five died within five years of arrival, and slave owners needed to replenish their fields constantly with fresh victims.”
In 1937, it was the Knights of Columbus that convinced Franklin Roosevelt to make Columbus Day a national holiday. As they’ve done in Seattle and other cities around our land, I hope within our generation, we’re able to convince one of our future Presidents to abolish Columbus Day.