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Mastery Assessment 3

Directions: Read the excerpt and answer the questions that follow.

SOCIAL SCIENCE: This passage is adapted from “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolome de las Casas, written in 1542. A league is a unit of measurement that is no longer used.
1 The Americas were discovered in 1492, and the first Christian settlements established by the Spanish the following year. It is accordingly forty-nine years now since Spaniards began arriving in numbers in this part of the world. They first settled the large and fertile island of Hispaniola, which boasts six hundred leagues of coastline and is surrounded by a great many other large islands, all of them, as I saw for myself, with as high a native population as anywhere on earth. Of the coast of the mainland, more than ten thousand leagues had been explored by 1541, and more are being discovered every day. This coastline, too, was swarming with people and it would seem that the Almighty selected this part of the world as home to the greater part of the human race.
2 God made all the peoples of this area, many and varied as they are, as open and as innocent as can be imagined. The simplest people in the world - unassuming, long-suffering, unassertive, and submissive - they are without malice or guile, and are utterly faithful and obedient both to their own native lords and to the Spaniards in whose service they now find themselves. Never quarrelsome or belligerent or boisterous, they harbor no grudges and do not seek to settle old scores; indeed, the notions of revenge, rancor, and hatred are quite foreign to them. At the same time, they are among the least robust of human beings: their delicate constitutions make them unable to withstand hard work or suffering and render them liable to succumb to almost any illness, no matter how mild. They are also among the poorest people on the face of the earth; they own next to nothing and have no urge to acquire material possessions. As a result they are neither ambitious nor greedy, and are totally uninterested in worldly power. Their diet is every bit as poor and as monotonous, in quantity and in kind, as that enjoyed by the Desert Fathers. Most of them go naked, save for a loincloth to cover their modesty; at best they may wrap themselves in a piece of cotton material a yard or two square. They are innocent and pure in mind and have a lively intelligence, all of which makes them particularly receptive to learning and understanding the truths of our Catholic faith and to being instructed in virtue. Once they begin to learn of the Christian faith they become so keen to know more, to receive the Sacraments, and to worship God, that the missionaries who instruct them do truly have to be men of exceptional patience and forbearance; and over the years I have time and again met Spanish laymen who have been so struck by the natural goodness that shines through these people that they frequently can be heard to exclaim: "These would be the most blessed people on earth if only they were given the chance to convert to Christianity."
3 It was upon these gentle lambs, imbued by the Creator with all the qualities we have mentioned, that from the very first day they clapped eyes on them the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold, or like tigers and savage lions who have not eaten meat for days. The pattern established at the outset has remained unchanged to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly.
4 When the Spanish first journeyed there, the indigenous population of the island of Hispaniola stood at some three million; today only two hundred survive. The island of Cuba, which extends for a distance almost as great as that separating Valladolid from Rome, is now to all intents and purposes uninhabited;" and two other large, beautiful and fertile islands, Puerto Rico and Jamaica, have been similarly devastated. Not a living soul remains today on any of the islands of the Bahamas, which lie to the north of Hispaniola and Cuba. The native population, which once numbered some five hundred thousand, was wiped out by forcible expatriation to the island of Hispaniola, a policy adopted by the Spaniards in an endeavor to make up losses among the indigenous population of that island. One God-fearing individual was moved to mount an expedition to seek out those who had escaped the Spanish trawl and were still living in the Bahamas and to save their souls by converting them to Christianity, but, by the end of a search lasting three whole years, they had found only the eleven survivors I saw with my own eyes. A further thirty or so islands in the region of Puerto Rico are also now uninhabited. All these islands, which together must run to over two thousand leagues, are now abandoned and desolate.
5 At a conservative estimate, the despotic and diabolical behavior of the Christians has, over the last forty years, led to the unjust and totally unwarranted deaths of more than twelve million souls, women and children among them, and there are grounds for believing my own estimate of more than fifteen million to be nearer the mark.
6 The reason the Christians have murdered on such a vast scale and killed anyone and everyone in their way is purely and simply greed. They have set out to line their pockets with gold and to amass private fortunes as quickly as possible so that they can then assume a status quite at odds with that into which they were born. Their insatiable greed and overweening ambition know no bounds; the land is fertile and rich, the inhabitants simple, forbearing and submissive. The Spaniards have shown not the slightest consideration for these people, treating them not as brute animals so much as piles of dung in the middle of the road. One fact in all this is widely known and beyond dispute, for even the tyrannical murderers themselves acknowledge the truth of it: the indigenous peoples never did the Europeans any harm whatever; on the contrary, they believed them to have descended from the heavens, at least until they or their fellow-citizens had tasted, at the hands of these oppressors, a diet of robbery, murder, violence, and all other manner of trials and tribulations.

Main Idea


1. The main idea of the second paragraph is that:

A. God made the native people of the area around Hispaniola varied and as open and as innocent as can be imagined.

B. the natives were not only open and innocent, but poor.

C. the natives made good servants.

D. the natives had many qualities that made them excellent candidates for conversion to Catholicism.
2. The purpose of the third paragraph is to:

A. Explain the numbers of natives that lived on each island.

B. Persuade the reader that the way the Spaniards treated the natives was cruel through evocative imagery.

C. Describe the pattern, step by step, the Spaniards used to wipe out the natives.

D. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Spaniards’ conquering of the natives.
3. If the fifth paragraph were to be deleted, readers would lose which of the following:

A. numbers related to decline of the native population after the Spaniards’ arrival.

B. the author’s description of the Spaniards’ daily interactions with the natives.

C. imagery of the Spanish conquerors’ cruelty.

D. evidence that most of the natives were murdered.
4. The last paragraph implies that:

A. the natives were unintelligent for believing that the Spaniards were gods.

B. the natives were unable to fight the Spaniards because they believed in peace.

C. the Spaniards realize their own cruelty, since they acknowledge the natives were gentle, but do nothing to change their actions.

D. the Spaniards’ only motive in conquering the natives was gaining Catholic converts.
5. The main idea of the passage as a whole is that:

A. the Spanish conquest of the islands mentioned is a tragedy to this day.

B. the native and Spanish relations were tense when the Spanish first arrived.

C. almost fifty years after Columbus’s arrival, the effects of Spanish rule were seen and felt by Bartolme de las Casas.

D. the natives of the Bahamas suffered immensely at the hands of the Spaniards.

Meaning of Words

6. As it is used in paragraph two the word "rancor" most nearly means:

A. hostility

B. depression

C. sadness

D. tediousness

7. As it is used in paragraph four the word “expatriation” most nearly means:

A. boating

B. disease-spreading

C. removal

D. killing
8. As it is used in paragraph four the word “trawl” most nearly means:

A. generals

B. search

C. capture

D. boat
9. As it is used in paragraph five the word “unwarranted” most nearly means:

A. unexpected

B. unknown

C. unimportant

D. unnecessary
10. As it is used in paragraph six the word “amass” most nearly means:

A. steal

B. request

C. collect

D. seek

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