Columbus Day is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century but did not become a federal holiday until the 1937. For many, the holiday is a way of both honoring Columbus’ achievements and celebrating Italian-American heritage. Throughout its history, Columbus Day and the man who inspired it have generated controversy, and many alternatives to the holiday have appeared in recent years.
A U.S. national holiday since 1937, Columbus Day commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. The Italian-born explorer had set sail two months earlier, backed by the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
He intended to chart a western sea route to China, India and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia; instead, he landed in the Bahamas, becoming the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikingsset up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland during the 10th century.
Contrary to popular belief, most educated Europeans in Columbus’ day understood that the world was round, but they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed. As a result, Columbus and his contemporaries assumed that only the Atlantic lay between Europe and the riches of the East Indies.
Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba and believed it was mainland China; in December the expedition found Hispaniola, which he though might be Japan. There, he established Spain’s first colony in the Americas with 39 of his men. In March 1493, the explorer returned to Spain in triumph, bearing gold, spices and “Indian” captives.
He crossed the Atlantic several more times before his death in 1506; by his third journey, he realized that he hadn’t reached Asia but instead had stumbled upon a continent previously unknown to Europeans.
The first Columbus Day celebration took place in 1792, when New York’s Columbian Order–better known as Tammany Hall–held an event to commemorate the historic landing’s 300th anniversary. Taking pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith, Italian and Catholic communities in various parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.
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In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage with patriotic festivities, writing, “On that day let the people, so far as possible, cease from toil and devote themselves to such exercises as may best express honor to the discoverer and their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.”
In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday, largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal benefits organization. Originally observed every October 12, it was fixed to the second Monday in October in 1971.
Opposition to Columbus Day dates back to the 19th century, when anti-immigrant groups in the United States rejected the holiday because of its association with Catholicism. In recent decades, Native Americans and other groups have protested the celebration of an event that indirectly resulted in the colonization of the Americas and the death of millions: European settlers brought a host of infectious diseases, including smallpox and influenza, that decimated indigenous populations; warfare between Native Americans and the colonists claimed many lives as well.
The image of Christopher Columbus as an intrepid hero has also been called into question. Upon arriving in the Bahamas, the explorer and his men forced the native peoples they found there into slavery; later, while serving as the governor of Hispaniola, he allegedly imposed barbaric forms of punishment, including torture.
Photo: An old painting of Columbus and his men slaughtering Natives
In many Latin American nations, the anniversary of Columbus’ landing has traditionally been observed as the Dìa de la Raza (“Day of the Race”), a celebration of Hispanic culture’s diverse roots. In 2002, Venezuela renamed the holiday Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena (“Day of Indigenous Resistance”) to recognize native peoples and their experience.
Several U.S. cities and states have replaced Columbus Day with alternative days of remembrance; examples include Berkeley’s Indigenous Peoples Day, South Dakota’s Native American Day and Hawaii’s Discoverer’s Day, which commemorates the arrival of Polynesian settlers.
Kevin Costner–Christopher Columbus Arrival 500 Nations Native part 1
In many parts of the United States, Columbus Day has evolved into a celebration of Italian-American heritage. Local groups host parades and street fairs featuring colorful costumes, music and Italian food. In cities and towns that use the day to honor indigenous peoples, activities include pow-wows, traditional dance and lessons about Native American culture.Source:http://www.timeanddate.com
Christopher Columbus was the ISIS of his day.
He justified rape, murder and pillage with religion and funded his efforts with whatever he could steal.Today, while millions across America are celebrating Columbus Day, the city of Seattle is celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
That’s because last year, the Seattle city council unanimously passed a resolution to honor the contributions and cultures of Native Americans on the second Monday of October.While Seattle’s decision may seem unusual, it’s actually part of growing trend.Many cities and states across the country have shifted away from celebrating Columbus Day, and that’s because more and more Americans are learning the real history behind Christopher Columbus and his “discovery.”
First of all, Columbus didn’t actually discover the Americas, despite what you may have been taught in elementary school.Thanks to archaeological evidence, we know now that there were many other groups who traveled to the Americas long before Columbus did.For example, back in the 10th century, the Vikings had settlements in what are now Greenland and Newfoundland.And DNA evidence proves that Polynesians came to South America almost a century before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
So, Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas wasn’t really a discovery at all.
But enough about the discovery. Let’s talk about the man himself, and what he did to the indigenous peoples that he found when he arrived in the New World.
When Columbus set sail in 1492, he was on the hunt for gold to bring back to Europe, and eventually landed on an island known as Hispaniola, which today is the home of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Unfortunately, Columbus didn’t discover much gold on Hispaniola, but he did find something as good as it, if not better: people.And Columbus thought that the indigenous people that he discovered would make great slaves.When Columbus discovered the Taino indigenous peoples of Hispaniola, he wrote back to the Spanish monarchs funding his voyage, saying that.
“They are 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. Here there are so many of these slaves…although they are living things they are as good as gold…”
Over time, Columbus’ real actions in the Americas have been replaced by a warm-and-fuzzy coloring book story of a bold and brave explorer who set out to discover a new world.
But in reality, as we have learned from writings of Christopher Columbus’ own men, the “bold explorer” raped, pillaged, enslaved and slaughtered people just to get rich.One of Columbus’ crewmen, Miguel Cuneo, wrote about the scene when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola for the second time, and thousands of Tainos, or what were referred to as Indians, came out to greet Columbus’ ships.
“When our caravels…were to leave for Spain, we gathered…one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians…For those who remained, we let it be known [to the Spaniards] in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”
Cuneo also wrote that he took his own sex slave, a beautiful young girl, who in his own words, “resisted with all her strength,” leaving him with no choice but to, “thrash her mercilessly and rape her.”
Columbus eventually started up a global child-sex-slave trade, shipping off Indians to all corners of the globe.
He even bragged about it to a friend in a letter written in 1500, saying that, “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.
Under Columbus’ rule, life for the Taino people became so bad that they resorted to mass suicide.Twenty-five years after Columbus had arrived in Hispaniola, the Spanish missionary Pedro Cordoba wrote that,
“As a result of the suffering and hard labor they endured, the Indians choose and have chosen suicide. Occasionally a hundred have committed mass suicide. The women, exhausted by labor, have shunned conception and childbirth. Many, when pregnant, have taken something to abort and have aborted. Others after delivery have killed their children with their own hands, so as not to leave them in such oppressive slavery.”
Eventually, Columbus resorted to wiping out the Taino altogether.
Prior to Columbus’ arrival in the New World, scholars place the population of Haiti/Hispaniola at around 1.5 to 3 million people.
By 1496, it was down to 1.1 million, according to a census done by Bartholomew Columbus, Columbus’ brother.
By 1516, the indigenous population was at 12,000, and by 1542, fewer than 200 natives were alive on Hispaniola.
If Columbus was robbing, raping and pillaging Hispaniola today, we would probably be bombing him from the air.
It’s time to put the shameful history of Columbus and his enslavement and murder of Native Americans behind us – and start celebrating the indigenous peoples who called the Americas home long before Columbus ever set sail.