Christopher Columbus – Letter on His First Voyage

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Christopher Columbus is a major historical figure owing to many firsts in his life. He was born in 1451 in Italy and was an avid lover of navigation from a tender age. Columbus sought the support of different kingdoms in Europe to conduct an exploration on Transatlantic. However, only the Spanish kingdom backed him and provided all the support he wanted. After gaining the support of the Spaniard kingdom, Columbus went on with his expeditions and discovered what he referred to as the ‘new world’. After his first voyage, he wrote a letter to the Spanish Kingdom to inform the king and the queen on his discoveries and how Spain could benefit. This letter is the subject on analysis in this essay.

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The purpose of this source is to inform the Spanish kingdom, which was the sponsors of Columbus’ expedition mission, of his discoveries. The letter narrated what Columbus had seen and how the Spanish kingdom could benefit through invading the discovered lands. The source was created for two purposes. First was an obligation for Columbus to report back to his financiers and sponsors. Columbus had a duty to tell the king and the queen what he had discovered during the exploration. Secondly, Columbus needed the kingdom’s backing and to secure it he had to convince the king and the queen that his first voyage was successful. So in this case, the source was intended to persuade the king and the queen to support his second voyage. It was also intended to give a factual account on what Columbus found in the new world. The source was intended for private consumption. It was written for the Spanish king and queen.

The main point of the source is to give an account of what is present in the newly discovered lands in the new world. Columbus explains how the people in the new world are friendly and naive, arguing that it would be easier for the Spanish kingdom to establish its authority in the different islands discovered. Columbus asserts that the natives are ‘timid and full of terror’ He explains that that they do not have any form of weapons only woods dried on the sun. He is explaining to the king and queen that it will be easier to conquer the inhabitants as they lack any weapons. He also explains that the land is very beautiful and big enough for different uses. Columbus also explains to the king that he has named several islands in Spanish. He also explains how the land is fertile and has various magnificent landscapes. All this is intended to convince the king and the queen to back his subsequent voyages to discover more lands. The explanation is also intended to convince the king and the queen to authorize an operation to colonize the discovered world. Columbus explains to the king and the queen how the land is full of precious metal such as gold that can be beneficial to the kingdom.

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This source is significant in studying the role of Columbus in the slave trade. In the recent past, there have been widespread calls to revisit the Columbus Day and rename it. The argument is that Columbus committed numerous atrocities towards the natives and also stated the slave trade. This source documents how Columbus took some men from the new world to Europe as evidence that he had discovered new places. This was the start of slavery and also shows the atrocities that the slaves went through as only eight of them made it to Europe. The source is thus important in making a case that Columbus was a major person in the slave trade. It is also important to support those calling for the abolishment of Columbus Day in America as it has evidence that Columbus committed several atrocities to the Native Americans.

In summary, Christopher Columbus is an important figure in history. This source is important to historians as it helps in understanding various aspects associated with Columbus and his voyages to the new world. The source contains factual elements that show Columbus toured the Americas and how the region looked like. It also has important information about the Native Americans and aspects of slavery. The document is well detailed providing crucial information that is important in understanding some of the intrigues and aspects that were evident during Columbus voyages. It is thus, useful for history enthusiasts as the information comes from Columbus without any editing as found in many books and materials.

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  1. Brophy, James. Perspectives from the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilizations. New York: WW Norton, 2012.
  2. Desai, Christina M. “The Columbus myth: Power and ideology in picturebooks about Christopher Columbus.” Children’s Literature in Education 45, no. 3 (2014): 179-196.
  3. Covert, Bryce. “Columbus’s Real Legacy: The Brutal Disparities Suffered By Native Americans.” ThinkProgress.
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