Christopher Columbus had made it to the New World(Read about his journey here). It had taken Columbus a lifetime of preparation, years of study, countless disappointments but he had made the journey of his dreams. Columbus and the crew were thrilled at their new discovery. They met Native people at each island they went to, and had different experiences with each group. The journey home was the next big hurdle. Columbus and his crew were anxious to find out if they were capable of making it back to Europe.
The New World
After all the difficulties and fears of the journey to the New World it was a relief to have made it to land(First Voyage). Columbus and his men had no idea they had found a new world, but assumed they had made it to Japan. Columbus did not assume there was a whole continent unaccounted for by the rest of the world. He was simply looking for an easier way to connect to India. His discovery of a new world was a surprise to all, and this marked a change in the whole world.
Accounting to modern day writers Christopher Columbus was terrible to the Native People of the Americas. In the last 30-40 years the reputation of Christopher Columbus has gone from bad to worse. It was interesting to read the actual writings of Columbus in his own words, because the modern day writers are far from correct to blame Columbus for todays problems. Columbus wanted to teach the Natives about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He had a desire to spread the word of God to the whole world, and was excited to meet such kind Natives on some of the islands he landed. Columbus reported that he thought the natives were ready for the word of God and had been prepared for this message.
The one first island Columbus landed on he named San Salvador, “Holy Savior.” Columbus recorded his first interactions with the Native people. In his journal Columbus wrote this:
“In order that they would be friendly to us— because I recognized that they were people who would be better freed[from error] and converted to our holy faith by love than by force—to some of them I gave red caps, and glass beads which they put on their chests, and many other things of small value, in which they took so much pleasure and became so much our friends that it was a marvel.”(p.91)
In Columbus’s words he says the natives were more likely to be “converted to our holy faith by love than force.” In the very words of Columbus he says it is better not to use force with the Native people! There were plenty of people who felt differently, especially in those times, BUT Columbus was not one of them! He felt love and the Savior would convert and help the Native people.
Columbus said the Natives appeared to be “very poor in everything.” They did not wear clothes and they were all very young, suggesting a short life span. Columbus noted that it appeared they had no religion and they would convert to Christianity easily. Columbus took six natives with him, to teach them Spanish. These people were a peaceful tribe Tainos, indigenous to the Caribbean Islands.
After meeting the Native people Columbus knew they had not made it to Japan. He set sail again searching for more civilizations. He landed on Cuba and was very excited to find a bigger island, where the people seemed highly civilized.
The people believed the Spaniard had come from heaven. Believing the Spaniards had come from heave would be an interaction happened over and over again every time they met a new group of Natives. The Natives believe that the Spaniards were messengers from heaven.
Martin Pinzon left with the Pinta
Martin Pinzon, the second in command of Columbus’s group, and did not agree with the importance of converting the Natives. Pinzon was interested in the wealth these new discoveries could give him and was done wasting his time waiting for Columbus. On November 20, Pinzon sailed off on the Pinta to follow rumors of gold and wealth on other islands. Columbus was super mad, he trusted Pinzon and did not imagine Pinzon would leave with one of the ships. It was wrong. Pinzon’ brother was in charge of the Nina, and Columbus had to have been worried that the other ship would go the same way and desert him across the ocean from home.
After Pinzon left Columbus’s men heard about the Natives practicing cannibalism, on the Eastern edge of Cuba(EWW). Justifiably the sailors were scared and wanted out of the area. This made them in a hurry to get out of them and get home as quickly as possible. Actually, on return voyages Columbus and his men became an eyewitness of the truth to the cannibalism rumors. There is a tribe called the Carib tribe that practiced it. This tribe is the mortal enemies of the Tainos(the first natives Columbus met).
The most valuable discovery of his first voyage was the discovery of Haiti and he named the island Hispaniola. Columbus found great wealth there and a more advanced civilization. Later voyages would produce more wealth from Mexico and Peru, but the wealth in Haiti provided the gold they needed for a return voyage.
Columbus was very impressed with Haiti, the people, the landscape, it was wonderful. They were an advanced civilization and he was so excited to meet the people of Haiti. Columbus said they had beautiful ship docks, much more superior to the docks at home in Europe. He had never seen these things done so well! The people of Haiti also thought the Spaniards were from heaven and treated them very well.
Columbus’s Voyage Home
Columbus had gathered enough goods to go home. It was on Christmas Eve when the boy in charge of watching the ship, fell asleep and the Santa Maria drifted into a coral reef. Columbus tried everything, trying to the get ship out, but nothing worked. Ultimately, the Santa Maria was lost. Columbus had his men ferried to the Nina, last surviving boat(because Pinzon had sailed off with the other one).
When the Santa Maria was no longer functioning, they cleared off all the supplies. They even took apart the boat and made small houses out of the wood. They had to leave men behind, they did not have enough space on the one boat left to take everyone back.
This is how the first European Colony was established in the New World. Columbu felt that it was a blessing from God and that everything would work out, even though it all seemed pretty dismal. Leaving the men behind guaranteed another trip out there.
(The men left behind ended being killed by natives because of their treatment of the Natives. They were pillaging and raping women. They were all put to death. This is one of the things that caused so many problems for Columbus. One a return visit, when discovering what happened, Columbus would not hurt the Natives for killing the Spaniards, because the Spaniards were in the wrong. This made the other sailors mad and did not trust Columbus because of his compassion for the Natives).
Columbus Sailing Home to Spain
On the way home to Spain the ships hit some very rough spots. They did not think they were going to make it. The ships lost sight of each other. There were so many problems on the way home that Columbus thought he was being punished for his pride. He thought the Lord was trying to humble him because of the problems that they were facing. If Columbus and his men did not make it back to Europe then nobody would have known about their discovery, and they were very close to not making it back at all.
Columbus was so scared that he wouldn’t make it that he wrote down all his discoveries, put it in a bottle and put it in the Ocean. He did not know where the other ships were, the storms were raging and he was scared he would never make it back, and all the discoveries would stay hidden.
After many prayers and the whole crew promised to fast for deliverance. The Lord blessed this group of travelers again and they made it back to Europe.
They landed in Portugal first and then were able to make it back to Spain and tell all of Europe about their discoveries!
They later found out that over 25 ships did not make it through the same storm they sailed though to make it back to Europe!
Truth on Christopher Columbus
It is fascinating to read the words of Columbus, the faith, bravery and mission he believe in. There are so many rumors about how horrible Columbus was to the Native people. From his own writings this is untrue. He did not go on these voyages to conquer the native people, but to teach the gospel of Christ, set up trading posts and connect the world. He wanted the world to know about the Savior, and this seemed to be his driving force. Through his voyages the world is connected. Through connecting the world all sorts of problems have occurred, and many of them started at the very beginning of these discoveries.
Most can agree Columbus was not a fabulous governor, and it seemed like his people walked all over him. He trusted the wrong people and these problems got out of hand. Again, I have not been able to see how this is the doing of Columbus, but the evil men around him. Put blame where it belongs. Christopher Columbus was a good man, trying to do the will of God.
More Blog Posts:
“Christopher Columbus, A Man Among the Gentiles.” Clark B. Hinckley