Columbus should not be honored

Columbus should not be honored

Every year we get out of school on the second Monday of October for Columbus Day. While it’s nice to have a day off, this holiday is definitely not worth the recognition we give it.

Columbus Day was celebrated first in the 18th century but didn’t become a federal holiday until 1937. This holiday was started to celebrate the achievements of Christopher Columbus. However, Columbus really wasn’t that great of a guy. In fact, he’s kind of a really disgusting historical figure.

When asked who discovered America, most will quickly respond with Columbus. But Columbus was not the first person to come to America.

The first people to arrive on this continent were in fact the Clovis people that walked across the Bering Strait approximately 14,000 years ago. Throughout the next few thousand years, these people diffused across the continent and then into South America.

The next people to have come to America were most likely Vikings, such as Biarni Heriulfsson and Leif Ericsson.

In the early 1400s (before Columbus’ explorations) the Chinese produced a map that included outlines of each continent, including North and South America, which obviously suggests that they had discovered and come to know the land we live on today enough to map it.

Another thing Columbus didn’t do was prove the Earth was round. That was done centuries and centuries before him by the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras.

Aristotle backed Pythagoras up around 350 BC. Eratosthenes, another Greek mathematician, geographer and astronomer, also claimed the earth was a sphere, and actually came up with a system of latitude and longitude. He calculated the circumference of the Earth.

Most educated people in Columbus’ time already knew the earth was not flat.

Though many try their hardest to disprove this, the myths are true— Columbus was a slave owner and traded and sold indigenous people. When describing the natives he came across, he wrote:

“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…”


Don’t worry, it gets worse. When Columbus went back to Hispaniola for a second time to greet what he called the Indians (because he thought he had reached his intended destination, India), he actually took some of them with him.

One of his crew members, Miguel Cuneo, wrote that they took 1,600 natives and passed them around to whoever wanted them.

Not only did they take slaves, they raped, robbed and killed these people.

Cuneo wrote this:

“While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me, and with whom, having taken her into my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears. Finally we came to an agreement in such manner that I can tell you that she seemed to have been brought up in a school of harlots.”

In addition to this, Columbus sold young sex slaves to his men, some as young as nine. He wrote:

“A hundred castellanoes 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 are now in demand.”

Also, Columbus returned to Spain in shackles at one point. He was literally a criminal, though he was pardoned.

Butcher shops were established throughout the Caribbean by Columbus and his men that sold human flesh from the natives as dog food. Live babies were also fed to dogs.

Columbus essentially began a slave trade during his lifelong search for riches. This eventually ended up being a full-on genocide against the indigenous people of Hispaniola.

By 1555, the natives were completely exterminated. Not one was left alive. This was also achieved by the diseases, such as smallpox, that Columbus and his men gave to them.

Why are we still honoring this man in the United States? He is less than honorable, he is truly despicable. His conquests were for riches, and stumbling across some Caribbean islands (not even any of the 50 states) wasn’t even on purpose.

Of course Columbus Day isn’t celebrated hugely. Of course people don’t have barbeques or exchange gifts on this day. There aren’t any genocide-themed parties. However, the fact that a day is still set aside for a man who did no good is quite shameful.

Seattle and Minneapolis decided to switch Columbus Day for “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” South Dakota celebrates Native American Day and Hawaii honors Polynesian explorers on Discoverers’ Day. These are some major steps in the right direction.

If we still want to get school off on the second Monday of October, we, like the before mentioned cities, should reinvent this day and honor people worthy of our respect instead of the disgusting Christopher Columbus.