Howard Zinn Chapter One Essay

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Columbus has always been portrayed as an enlightened, peaceful explorer who “discovered” a new world, and became friends with the native people. Howard Zinn’s view on Columbus’s encounter with the natives is an entirely different perspective. Zinn describes Columbus as a man who is willing to torture and kill others to be able to accomplish what he wants; in this case he wanted to obtain gold and other resources to take back with him to Spain. When Columbus and his men arrived to the islands, he noticed that the natives were generous, and accommodating because they willingly traded everything they owned and brought them such things like: food, water, and gifts. Since the beginning the natives offered all of their hospitality to Columbus…show more content…
He became desperate to pay the dues back to the king and queen, so he order every native older than fourteen to collect a certain quantity of gold by three months. Once they had collected the amount, they would receive a copper to put around their neck, those without it had their hands cut off and bled to death. Many felt it was impossible to do this, and tried escaping but were always found and killed. When it was finally clear that there was no gold left, they took them all as slave labor to huge estates which are called encomiendas. Columbus’s big plan for Hispaniola since the beginning was to take advantage of the natives and take their land, and the gold he believed was located there. He built the first fort in the Western Hemisphere, and left some of his men to find and store gold there. Columbus had to ask for a little more help from their majesties, he convinced them by saying he would take them “as much gold as they need ... and as many slaves as they ask” (Zinn,6 ) Columbus’s plans affected the natives, in many ways; first of all they were going to lose their land, and also they were going to be taken captive for slave labor. Howard Zinn not only introduced a new perspective on Christopher Columbus, but he changed the way I viewed things. I never knew how much killings, and torture was put upon the natives in the searching of the “New World”. I learned how the hero I thought Columbus was, in reality was more like a villain. He didn’t
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