First, he was a failure. His expedition was to find a faster route from Spain to China. He never completed that task
He never landed on Plymouth Rock but on the shores of Hispaniola. Today, we call that island the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Boy, my grade school teachers were stupid.
When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, the indigenous people, the Arawaks, ran to greet them, bringing them food, water and gifts. This first encounter spelled the end for the Arawaks. He later wrote of this in his log:
“They . . . brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned . . . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features . . . .They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane . . . They would make fine servants . . . .With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
He later wrote:
“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts. Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.”
His men raped and murdered women and children. They forced the Arawak men to carry them around the island in litters, chairs or on their shoulders. There was even a story of two boys who were playing with their pet parrot and Columbus’ men beheaded the two boys and took their parrot.
He then sailed back to Spain where he lied about finding large amounts of gold and asked the monarchy for more resources to finance a second expedition, telling them that he would bring back scores of gold and slaves. He got seventeen ships and twelve hundred men for his second expedition. He never found any gold but he did capture several hundred of the natives and caged them up in his ships to return them to Spain. Most of them died en-route. Christopher wrote: “Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”
Many of Columbus’ men continued to roam the island in gangs taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor. While trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. The Spaniards took prisoners, they hanged them, beheaded them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began by using Cassava poison. Infants were poisoned by their parents in order to save them from Columbus and his men.
So, happy Columbus Day. Hundreds of thousands of Arawak’s died at the hands of Columbus so that you could have this day off. Do our schools still lie to us?