Christopher Columbus In Howard Zinn's 'A Mosaic Of America'

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Hist 135 5/24/14 Objective A In the textbook, Visions of America, Christopher Columbus is portrayed as a heroic man who started and encouraged the exploration of the New World. He is depicted as the instigator of the conquest of America and inspired many others to make explorations. In what historians call the “Columbian Exchange,” Columbus is adored for having a vital role in the exchange of food, animals, plants, and disease between the New World and Europe. However, in an essay by Howard Zinn in the reader, A Mosaic of America, a different perspective of history exposes Columbus, although an important and dedicated man, to be a man with many flaws and a damaged sense of morality. Zinn’s use of three sources, Columbus’s own diaries, the…show more content…
Zinn’s essay and use of this source ultimately uncovers how Columbus really thought and acted. Zinn shows Columbus as a greedy man with no regard for Native Americans lives. For example, in his diary Columbus writes, “They [Native Americans] would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want” (Zinn, p.1). Zinn achieved his goal of showing a different perspective of Columbus by revealing the Columbus’s imperfections rather than only illuminating the accomplishments of Columbus. It would be typical believe that Columbus, the man himself who which participated directly in these events, would be a credible source for Zinn to use. Nevertheless Zinn actually states in his essay “His [Columbus] descriptions were part fact, part fiction” (Zinn, p.2). This causes some confusion in whether or not we can actually utilize Columbus himself as a credible source. No one can be sure if he did or did not embellish his stories in his diaries…show more content…
Through the writings of las Casas, Spaniards are illustrated as cruel, masochistic, and immoral conquerors. These writings help people sympathize with the Native Americans and demonstrate the struggle these underrated people went through. Instead of providing information and a point of view that glorifies Columbus as an explorer and hero like in Visions of America, the use of las Casas writings presents another outlook of the truth. Zinn uses examples from las Casas writings to emphasize what actually happened during Columbus’s exploration without leaving out the details that would defame Columbus. While las Casas did participate in the exploration of Cuba, he seems to have a biased anti-Spain attitude that could make him unreliable. Las Casas is famous for writing the multivolume History of the Indies, which was written to exploit the harsh ways of the Spaniards. Like Theodore de Bry who debased the indigenous Native Americans to be more appealing to people, las Casas could be exaggerating his claims. When people are so determined, they can easily become biased and

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