Was Columbus an Imperialist? Essay

On October 12, 1492,admiral colon spent a total of ninety six days exploring the lands he encountered on the far side of the ocean seafour rather small coralline islands in the bahamian chain and two substantail coastlines of what he finally acknowledged were larger islands every one of which he took possession of in the name of his sovereigns. Admiral Colon landed on a tropical Caribbean island. Finding this island was purely accidental. Colon had originally set out to find a shorter route to China and instead discovered the New World.

If the purpose of Colon’s voyage was not seeking out to dominate another country, but to find a shorter route to China, then how could he be considered an imperialist? While he didn’t set out as an imperialist, some of his actions could be considered imperialistic. One of the main reasons that Kirkpatrick Sale believes that Colon was an imperialist is because “Colon went on to assign no fewer than sixty-two other names on the geography of the islands…. ith a blithe assurance suggesting that in his perception the act of name-giving was in some sense a talisman of a conquest, a rite that changed raw neutral stretches of far-off earth into extensions of Europe. “.

Columbus trivialized the natives of the land by convincing himself that they were a simple people because they didn’t wear clothes and most of them painted themselves different colors. As Sale wrote, “Colon immediately presumed the inferiority of the natives, not merely because they were naked, but because they seemed to be so technologically backwards. Columbus was proven right of his assumption when he introduced the natives to weapons as he said, “They bear no arms, nor are they acquainted with them, for I showed them sword and they grasped them by the blade and cut themselves through ignorance. ” They had no possessions of any kind and lacked a coherent language, thus as Columbus had previously assumed, they were inferior and could easily be enslaved by Columbus and his men. Although, they lacked clothing, they had a highly advanced agricultural system amongst other things.

Columbus single-handedly took over the Caribbean islands in the name of his homeland, enslaved the people, and did what he wanted in the area. In this agurment of Kirkpartick Sale, there are strengths and weekness in this agurment. The strenths of Sale agument shows that Columbus was really an imperialist because of the eveidents in his agument he illusrate Columbus took possession and named the land where he discovered and enslave the people.On the other side of argument, we have Robert Royal claiming that Columbus was not an imperialistic person and in fact, liked the native people. Royal starts off by blasting the historians who think that just because Columbus thought the natives were an easy to subdue race or because he was mad that he did not in fact find Asia, he had to be a greedy imperialist. Las Casas is Royals best defense against Columbus being an imperialistic type of person, as he claims that although Columbus’s brother Bartolome was a good leader, he still lacked the sweetness and benignity of Christopher.

Las Casas also claimed the while Columbus was a well intentioned person; he unwittingly laid down the stepping stones for a largely imperialistic regime in Spain. After the Santa Maria went aground on Christmas of 1492, Columbus encountered people that were so friendly and so hospitable that Columbus thought the new relationship must “be part of a divine plan in light of the friendship that sprung up between the two peoples. ” Royal then brings up the three major charges that people have accused Columbus of being which supposedly label him as an imperialist which are;1. He kidnapped natives and used them as interpreters, 2, He punished and enslaved natives who acted out, and the last one was a gold taxing system which was nearly impossible for the Indians to follow through on.

The charges are all true, but Royal brings some other factors along with the charges that might make Columbus seem like a better man. For one, while he did kidnap some Indians, he set one free as soon as he came back to Hispaniola.As for the second charge, Columbus was split between whether or not to take Indian as slaves and eventually, he ordered that they may only be taken as slaves during war time.

And to tackle the last charge against Columbus, he actually believed they had enough gold to pay to the Spaniards. After reading these both yes and no of two historian aguements, I come with a conclusion that I agree with Robert Royal that Columbus was not an imperialist; he was just a power hungry evil man who didn’t care about the value of human life as much as most.The voyage of colombus is to discover another side of the world and looking for trade reason and it under the patronage of the Spanish monarchy not to be an imperialist. All the actions that he did to the native are to exchange the spainish culture with native and in purpose of trade in plant, animal, human being and ideas. Overall, Whether or not Christopher Columbus’s actions in the Americas are viewed as the work of an imperialist, there is no doubt that the impact of his arrival in the Western Hemisphere carried with it enormous consequences, and benefits to the native american.