Columbus Day- A True Holiday?

Emily Yates, Online Editor

Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492 in hopes of finding the East Indies, instead, he stumbled upon soon to be America. Upon his arrival, Columbus discovered large amounts of gold. Columbus returned to Spain and sold the queen on the idea of a new world filled with wealth beyond her wildest dreams. She in return gave him seventeen ships, 1500 men and a variety of crossbows, swords, and cannons. Columbus then returned to the New World, this time armed with weapons of war. He found the Native Americans and demanded the people give his men food, gold and their women. When the Native Americans refused, Columbus responded by ordering their ears and noses to be cut off. When the disfigured offenders returned to the village they would serve as a warning to others.

The Native Americans tried to rebel, but with the arsenal Columbus had, the Indians were slaughtered with only rocks, and spears to defend themselves. There are eyewitness accounts of fallen Indian warriors being fed to hunting dogs while they were still alive. Despite this mass murder, Columbus still didn’t have all the gold he wanted. In an effort to make more money Columbus rounded up about 500 natives and chained them below the decks of his ships and returned them to Spain to be sold as slaves. Another 500 were enslaved in the New World. They were forced to feed, care for, and even carry Columbus’s men around on their backs. Many escaped to the mountains to try to escape the slavery. Columbus’s men began hunting the refugees and murdering them. (theoatmeal.com) But even after all this, Columbus still didn’t have all the gold he wanted! So he developed a tribute system where each native who brought gold would receive a token, and those that didn’t had their hands cut off and later forced to wear the hand around their necks. And just to top it off, Columbus’s gold exports also resulted in the stop of the gold economy in the Gold Coast of Africa. This led to the rise of African slaves as the most used material. Which technically makes Columbus the father of the transatlantic slave trade. Basically the point is, Christopher Columbus was awful.

Many, many years later after Columbus’s death, a group of men wanted to create a historical figure for their sons to look up to, and through political pressure, Roosevelt finally succumbed and made Christopher Columbus day a national holiday occurring on October 12. The question is, should we really celebrate and honor this awful person who wasn’t even the first person to discover America? (Technically Erik the Viking discovered America almost 500 years before Columbus.) The father of the transatlantic slave trade is honored on the same level as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. We honor a murderer the same as we do our 16th president. Just think about that.