Of late there are many sources claiming Christopher Columbus was
unworthy of a federal holiday a despicable rascal. See this “article” on the oatmeal and this one on vox.com. I saw the oatmeal article last year. A friend who is a teacher shared it with me. The following is what I shared with her, and now with anyone open minded enough to not jump on the revisionist bandwagon without long contemplation and deep investigation.
Vicki Jo Anderson, while researching many historical figures over the course of several years, discovered that
“history written prior to 1920 was often written of great men and women who performed great deeds. After 1920, history has highlighted the miseries of men…. Dean Belnap once stated: ‘Young people of our generation have been deprived of their birthright, which is to be conscious that they are the children of a high destiny in the line of great men who performed great deeds.’ One cannot appreciate the future unless there is an understanding of the past. It is the intent of [the book she was doing the research for] to illustrate from the lives of these eminent men, that one individual can make a difference.”
Of Columbus, Anderson writes:
“Disheartened with the greed and lust that were wreaking havoc in the newly discovered land, in 1496 he wrote to the king and queen, begging that the same laws existing in Spain be applied to the islands, and that all people–including the Indians–have the same justice.
He wrote: ‘Procure for the Indians, that are coming under our rule, the same rules and protections as those we have been speaking of [here in Spain]. These rules are to apply to those in power and those not in power equally. I want them to have the same protection like I have as if they were my own flesh.’ In 1497, he pleaded again:
‘I worry immensely about the future. I do not know what will happen in years to come. But we will discover new lands and we will negotiate in some of them according to the law of Castile and if this is not ruled by a strong hand then we will lose and rip apart our future and we will lose everything. I am afraid we will be misunderstood. I tell you to do it this way because gold is not everything.’”
Her source for the Columbus quotes is:
Columbus, Christopher. Letters to King Ferdinand & Queen Isabel 1496 Raccolta Collection. Raccolta di Documenti e Studi Pubblicati dalla R. Commissione Colombiana, pel Quarto Centenario dalla Scoperta dell’ America, Appendix Roma 1894, p. 270.
I am not saying by this that he never did anything bad, just that he may not have been as bad as recent history writers make him out to be.