Should We Celebrate Columbus Day? (NO)



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Should We Celebrate Columbus Day? (NO)

(Courtesy of: http://americancreation.blogspot.com/2009/10/columbus-day-is-tomorrow-so-i-thought.html)


517 years ago, on October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) made landfall on a small island in the present-day Bahamas, which he later named San Salvador. Upon his arrival, Columbus proudly declared to the native people of the island -- the Taino Indians -- that the land was forever more the domain of Spain and the Catholic Church.

As we all know, Columbus was certainly not the first person to "discover" America. Instead, Columbus came along at the perfect time. As historian Alan Taylor points out in his book, American Colonies:



Thanks to the newly invented printing press, word of Columbus’s voyage and discovery spread rapidly and widely through Europe. Eagerly read, his published report ran through nine editions in 1493 and twenty by 1500. Publication in multiplying print helped to ensure that Columbus's voyages would lead to an accelerating spiral of further voyages meant to discern the bounds and exploit the peoples of the new lands (Taylor, 35).
Thanks to the dramatic discovery, coupled with the even more dramatic tales of his journey, Columbus has been catapulted to the status of a national hero in American popular culture. In many religious circles he is seen as a pious man of God who never flinched in his quest for a New World.

However exciting it may be for us to remember Columbus as a pure-hearted explorer, the historical record cannot be ignored. All surviving evidence makes it abundantly clear that Columbus was not the benevolent explorer we often consider him to be in American popular culture. Instead, Columbus was very much a tyrant who used religion to justify his acts of violence towards the native peoples of the "New World." Again, Alan Taylor points out what Columbus' real intentions were when it came to the native people of the "New World:"

Columbus hoped to convert the Indians to Christianity and to recruit their bodies and their wealth to assist Europeans in a final crusade to crush Islam and reclaim Jerusalem. Such a victory would then invite Christ’s return to earth to reign over a millennium of perfect justice and harmony (Taylor, 33).

Columbus took his newfound religious quest to another extreme when he chose to rename himself by adopting the first name of "Christoferens," or "Christ-bearer." Under the banner of a Christ-bearer, Columbus began his work of death throughout the Americas. Alan Taylor captures just how horrible these atrocities were when he writes:



Columbus distributed Indian captives among the colonists to work on their plantations and to serve as slaves. By 1496, Hispanola's surviving "free" natives had been rendered tributary -- obliged to bring in a quota of gold for every person over the age of fourteen.
Columbus's slaughter and enslavement of Indians troubled the pious Spanish monarchs, who declared in 1500 that the Indians were free and not subject to servitude. In addition to killing and enslaving the Taino, Columbus antagonized most of the colonists, who bristled at his domineering manner and hot temper. As a result, violent mutinies and more violent reprisals by Columbus induced the monarchs to revoke his executive authority in 1500 (Taylor, 37).

With such a horrible record of enslavement, brutality and death, I again pose to you all the following question: should we celebrate Columbus Day? The historian in me is conflicted. Of course Columbus' discovery is a monumental event in world history, however, the fact remains that this discovery led to mass murder. I also am of the belief that all historical events -- both good and evil -- should be remembered. However, does this mean that Columbus deserves his own national holiday?

Why We Should Celebrate Columbus Day (YES)

(Courtesy of: http://www.osia.org/)

• Columbus Day recognizes the achievements of a great Renaissance explorer who founded the first permanent European settlement in the New World. The arrival of Columbus in 1492 marks the beginning of recorded history in America.

• Columbus Day celebrates the beginning of cultural exchange between America and Europe. After Columbus, came millions of European immigrants who brought their art, music, science, medicine, philosophy and religious principles to America. These contributions have helped shape the United States and include Greek democracy, Roman law, Judeo-Christian ethics and the tenet that all men are created equal.

• Columbus Day is one of America s oldest holidays. The tradition of observing Columbus Day dates back to the 18th century. It was first celebrated on October 12, 1792, when the New York Society of Tammany honored Columbus on the 300th anniversary of his first voyage.

• Columbus Day is a patriotic holiday. In fact, the Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 in honor of the 400th anniversary of his first voyage. That year, President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day a legal holiday.

• The United States has long admired Columbus. America has more monuments to Columbus than any nation in the world, according to the Christopher Columbus Encyclopedia. These include a Columbus statue in Providence, R.I., cast by Frederic Auguste Bertholdi, who created the Statue of Liberty, and one in New York City, created by one of the six Italian American brothers who carved the Lincoln Memorial.

• The United States has a significant collection of Columbus memorabilia, including his desk, papers, and the cross he used to claim the New World for Spain. These are in the Columbus Chapel in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania.

• In 1971 Columbus Day became a federal holiday in all 50 states after Congress passed a law declaring the second Monday in October Columbus Day.

• Columbus Day also commemorates the arrival on these shores of more than 5 million Italians a century ago. Today, their children and grandchildren constitute the nation’s fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

• Columbus Day is the only day on which the nation recognizes the heritage of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans.
Name: _________________________________ POINTS ____ / 10

7th Grade


Directions: Read both sides of the argument and come up with your own conclusion. Remember this is your opinion and there is no wrong answer just poor effort! You will be sharing your opinion in a small class debate, so be prepared and know what you are talking about.

So, what is your opinion? Should we celebrate Columbus Day? Explain.

You must give at least 2 reasons to support your argument.

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