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Columbus: American Anti-Hero Essay, Research Paper

In the year 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Consequently, over 80

million native peoples were slaughtered. Christopher Columbus made the greatest discoveries in

American history, but the actions of Columbus and his men were far from great. Was he a great

explorer? Yes, but can Columbus be considered a hero? Anyone that treated other people as

brutal as Columbus can never be a hero.

Before Columbus could cross the Atlantic in hopes of locating a water route to Asia, he

failed in convincing many rulers to fund his expedition. In Spain, he was able to persuade Queen

Isabella to fund his “kill-a-thon.” He said that he would expand the Spanish empire with new

territory, collect riches, and convert the natives to Christianity. What the Queen did not know,

was the fact that all of this came with a much higher price, the loss of many human lives.

As time played on, the killing, beatings, and enslavement ensued. What the school books

will not print are the horrifying ways that the Indians as a people were treated by the Spaniards

and other Europeans. To gather the gold and silver that Columbus promised Isabella, Indian

slaves were chained together at the neck and forced to work in local mines. If an Indian refused

to work or was not moving to the Spaniards’ content, the slave was decapitated. The brutality did

not stop there. Many of Columbus’s men made bets with each other, deadly bets. They would

see who could cut a body in half with one swoop of their sword. Women’s breasts were severed

and used as animal treats, even infants were fed to packs of wolves. Was any of this mentioned

in Columbus’s initial statement to Isabella?

However, it was not his crew that was only corrupt, Columbus was also sick in the head.

Columbus played his games with the native people, games that certainly are not mentioned in any

text books. Columbus would pass the time by raping unarmed and innocent native women.

Does this spell hero? It spells corruption and absolute power, traits of a mad man like Hitler, not

the traits of a man that an entire nation that pays homage to every year. Under his rule of

Espanola, 50,000 natives were killed or died from diseases brought by the Europeans, which is

roughly equivalent to 1.5 million dead Americans today.

After this period of genocide ended around 1535, the number of deaths surpassed that of any

genocide against the Armenians, Jews, Gypsies, Ibos, Bengalis, Timorese, Cambodians,

Ugandans and other ethnic groups. Columbus’s expeditions should be honored for their purpose

and influence of American history, but not Columbus the individual.

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