Christopher Columbus American History Essay

Christopher Columbus American History Essay-66
“The ensuing Age of Discovery, with its expansions of empires and exploitations of New World natural resources, was accompanied by the seizure and forced labor of human beings, starting with Native Americans.”Nabokov calls Columbus the “first transatlantic human trafficker—a sideline pursued by most New World conquistadors until, in the mid-seventeenth century, Spain officially opposed slavery.”It would be centuries more until the Civil War would end the practice in the US.

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Whatever hardships and cruelties were inflicted upon the natives was generally thought to be insignificant in comparison with the benefits of European science and religion.

Yet even his most ardent admirers acknowledge that Columbus was self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and a racist.

In the decades that followed, the story of Columbus as a brave and brash adventurer would be embroidered into the broader patriotic tale of American exceptionalism.

Italians in the US, who faced derision, discrimination and quite often death when they arrived in mass numbers as cheap labor starting in the 1880s, came to cling to the Columbus myth as a source of pride, a way to assimilate amid misery.

For many years, Christopher Columbus was regarded as one of the great heroes of western history.

He was touted as the New World`s pivotal discoverer who subsequently brought civilization to its backward peoples.

FDR’s decree can be attributed to political expediency, with Italian-Americans emerging as an important urban voting bloc.

Much of the mythologizing of the explorer can be traced to Washington Irving’s , published in 1828.

Columbus’ own origins could be enough for Italian-Americans to reconsider any desire to promote the Genoan as the symbol of their contributions.

As the Library of Congress has noted, the explorer himself would have reason to be perplexed by any pan-Italian ethnic devotion: When Christopher Columbus set foot on American soil in 1492, he launched a flood of migration that is still in motion, and that transformed the continent completely.


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