~~ Paul V. Hartman ~~
...brave enough to go where no one else would venture...
In 1492, Columbus did not prove that the earth was round. A round earth concept was held by the ancient Greeks, reasoning that since the sun, moon, and visible planets were round, then so must be the earth. What Europeans for the most part thought in the 15th century was that the ocean was very large, contained sea serpents and strong weather patterns, and constituted a serious threat to anyone who would risk attempting to cross it.
The new world was eventually going to be found, and claimed, by someone, from some country. The someone would be Columbus. The country, Spain.
The new world was well populated with the descendents of those humans which crossed the Bering Strait some 16,000 years ago, and gradually spread throughout the hemisphere. That these were "gentle people" that Columbus "destroyed" on arrival is disproved by all we now know about the native populations. From top to bottom, warfare was constant, sacrifices of opponents "to the gods" were widespread and frequent, and slavery was practiced. There was blood running everywhere, all the time. Indeed, humanity was much more gentile in 15th century Europe, where warfare could be greater, but much less frequent, and people learned to deal with unpleasant neighbors by negotiations.
Columbus was well trained in geography and a skilled navigator, but he was at heart a capitalist. The object of trade in his time was access to the special goods of the orient. He thought that India could be reached by sailing a straight line West, rather than taking the long and perilous route around Africa. Multiple pleas to the Spanish throne eventually got him three sorry ships, which the throne must have thought was still a bad risk.
We must ask ourselves who would have discovered the New World in a better way. Had it gone to Islam, would the natives of America been better off? What if China, or the Russians who were much closer?
I write this on Columbus Day, 10/11/2010. The academic nut cases who saturate our schools and colleges have spent some fifty years assaulting the character of Christopher Columbus, as if, had "they" been in charge, America would have turned into the greatest example of personal freedom the world would ever see, and people from all corners of the earth would do whatever they had to do to follow the path of Columbus.
Ah, we can only dream.
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