On October 5th, Michael J. Knowles published an article entitled “Historical Record Show Christopher Columbus Actually Was A Great Man” at The Daily Wire. The aim of this fascinating piece is to shed some light on the ever growing controversy surrounding Columbus Day and its namesake. Today’s primary argument against Christopher Columbus charges him with being a conquering tyrant, inciting atrocities against the indigenous peoples of the “New World” and paving the way for countless abuses in future centuries. Knowles seeks to dispel this view by providing evidence to the contrary, but he first asserts why the Left has chosen to condemn a figure who is such an important contributor to America’s development as a nation:
The Left so loathes Columbus because he personifies Western Civilization. A transnational, devout Christian illiterate of low birth, he single-handedly revitalized a dying Europe whose lands Muslim invaders had been steadily conquering for centuries. An autodidact and the greatest navigator of his age, he spent nearly a decade fruitlessly attempting to convince the Portuguese and later Spanish crowns to fund his impossibly ambitious vision, finding success only after he had formerly been ushered out of the palace gates. Columbus fulfilled Seneca’s prophesy that a New World would be discovered across the sea, he created the Modern Era, and he played the single most important role in the founding of America.
Knowles juxtaposes this assertion with evidence of opponents twisting historical records to support their claims:
Perhaps the worst charge Matthews alleges is that “Settlers under Columbus sold 9- and 10-year-old girls into sexual slavery.” Matthews asserts, “This one he admitted himself in a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, a friend of the Spanish queen: ‘There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.’”
One might conclude from Vox’s article that Columbus devised the plan or at least approved of it. But the opposite is true. Columbus doesn’t brag about selling those girls into slavery or even defend the action. On the contrary, in the very next sentence, Columbus writes, “I assert that the violence of the calumny of turbulent persons has injured me more than my services have profited me; which is a bad example for the present and for the future. I take my oath that a number of men have gone to the Indies who did not deserve water in the sight of God and of the world.”
Columbus spent years of his life refuting the document as a vicious libel and turned down as a matter of principle lucrative agreements with the Spanish crown that did not correct for history what he regarded as calumny. This is not to say that Columbus is guiltless in the Spanish treatment of natives. But the Left’s claims of Columbus’s special monstrosity are without foundation. Even Bartolomé de Las Casas, the first resident Bishop of the Americas and most vociferous defender of the indigenous islanders against Spanish slavery and brutality admired Christopher Columbus to the end and expressed as much in his History of the Indies.
Stanford professor emerita Carol Delaney marvels at the ignorance. “They are blaming Columbus for the things he didn’t do,” she explains. “It was mostly the people who came after, the settlers. I just think he’s been terribly maligned.” Delaney points out that in the man’s own writings and the writings of those who knew him, Columbus seems to be “very much on the side of the Indians” and even adopted the son of an American Indian leader he had befriended.
The rest of Knowles’ article is dedicated to providing an account of Columbus’s life and voyages, ending with his death in 1506. With his final words, Columbus challenges his critics to do better than he should they be presented with challenges of such importance and magnitude. Columbus by no means has a perfect track record, but his role in helping to bring about the advent of America is indisputable. To read more about Columbus’s life and achievements, read the full article here.