2:15 PM EST
2:15 PM EST
"There is no more glaring distortion in the history learned by generations of Americans…than in the story of Christopher Columbus. He is universally portrayed as a heroic figure, a brave adventurer, a skilled seaman who crossed the ocean not knowing what he would find, and stumbled on an unknown continent. All that is true. But what is missing from that story is that, when he landed in the Bahamas Islands, Columbus and his men…set out on a ruthless quest for gold that led to enslavement, misery, and death for that population. Profit was the driving force behind Columbus’ expedition….. His expedition had been financed by the king and queen of Spain, with the hope that crossing the ocean would bring him to the gold and spices of Asia. Seeing the natives he encountered, the peaceful Arawak Indians, as less than human (though in his diary he described them as gentle and generous), he tortured them to force them to find gold for him. He kidnapped and enslaved hundreds of them, compelling them to work in the mines, under terrible conditions, in the quest for gold. It was the beginning of the annihilation of the Indians on Hispaniola…. It was the start of the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere."