Columbus the slaver

In elementary school I won a essay contest sponsored by the Roman Cultural Society of Springfield, Illinois for making the audacious claim (so I was told) that Columbus did not discover America. I have ignored since then, except as a disease vector. I doubt I would have managed to win that contest had I known of another aspect of Columbus, which I only learned about today:

By the time Christopher Columbus appeared in Lisbon in 1477 an Old World slave trade was thriving in the eastern Atlantic between West Africa, the Atlantic islands, and Europe. In his famous letter on his first voyage he informed Ferdinand and Isabella he could, with their help, give them “slaves, as many as they shall order.” On his second voyage Columbus loaded five hundred Indian slaves aboard returning caravels. On the last leg of his voyage to Cadiz, “about two hundred of these Indians died,” a passenger recorded, appending, “We cast them into the sea.” In this manner the discoverer of the New World launched the transatlantic slave trade, at first in Indians and from west to east.

–James Rawley, with Stephen Behrendt, The Transatlantic Slave Trade

This via Byran Caplan’s timely post Columbus: The Far Left is Dead Right, which includes an always timely plea to dishonor ‘great men.’

It is long past time to terminate officious recognition of Columbus Day and remove representations of slave owners from currency and other objects of jurisdiction worship. I consider this a mild compromise position on the road to smashing hero worship, which I admit has near zero constituency.

One Response

  1. Day of Indigenous Resistance…

    Columbus Day is a federal holiday that I will no longer celebrate.
    I used to celebrate Columbus Day. It was sort of a mandatory holiday. I grew up in a small town in Iowa called Columbus Junction. Located near the confluence of the Iowa and Cedar Rive…

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