In both Christopher Columbus’ diary
entry from 1492 and Bartolome De La Casas’ Short
Account of the Destruction of the Indies, the characteristics that the
natives possessed and the culture that they followed is unmistakably evident.
However, the two entries differ from each other since they both describe an
entirely different world. Columbus’ attitude towards the indigenous Americans could
best be described as a sense of superiority. He believed that his men and
himself were rather inferior to them yet you could sense this small hint of
curiosity that he possessed for their ways and culture. Years and bloodshed later,
Casas seems to display a sincere sympathy towards the exploitation that the
natives endured and the freedom that they lost 50 years later after Christopher
Columbus was sent on his voyage by
the King and Queen of Spain in seek of riches, in this case, gold to be
precise. Columbus stated that one of his titles is the “High Admiral of
the Sea” which was given to him by the king himself. He goes on to state
how he was instructed to sail to the unknown territory which he assumed to be
India, in order to assist with the conversion of faith to people that reside
there to their religion, Christianity. But upon setting foot on the new land,
it seemed as if his arrival didn’t have that exact result. Columbus immediately
displayed utter gentleness to the people and was cautious to not infuriate them
in any way possible. He just wanted to record the location and observe his
surroundings and their ways to his king and queen. Columbus even states that he
had “saw a boy of the crew purchasing javelins of them with bits of
platters and broken glass”, this implies that he participated in trading
resources and valuables with the natives as a form of peaceful globalization.
It was almost as if he viewed the
indigenous Americans as gullible because they openly accepted shattered pieces
of glass that had no value whatsoever. He even describes them as being somewhat
underdeveloped despite the customs they had and explained how they were easily
converted to their Christian ways without the use of force. Columbus and his
men initially treated the natives this way mostly because they sought the
conversion of the natives to Christianity and the possession of gold, spices,
and other sources that could lead Spain to prosperity.
Bartolome De La Casas’ account was
written approximately fifty years following Christopher Columbus’ coming to the
“New World”. From his perspective, he describes the scenery around him
cataclysmic. He reveals how the population of natives that once flourished the
territory tragically diminished by the Spanish murdering them by the numbers.
Casas states, that the Spaniards were “acting like ravening beasts,
killing, terrorizing, afflicting, torturing, and destroying the native
peoples”. He goes on even further by stating that their cruel and harsh methods
were by far immoral, by far outlandish, and disturbingly innovative. Millions
of female and male natives were slain. In addition, even pregnant women and
children were murdered. Women were raped by Christian officers, children were
starved, men were dismembered as if they were livestock in a slaughterhouse.
The survivors, on the other hand, were sold off as slaves to serve in the
uttermost harshest environments.
Like Columbus, Casas says that the
Spanish had the ultimate goal of conquering and seizing the notorious gold that
was said to be within the “New World”. Throughout the entry, it could
be inferred that Bartolome De La Casas had believed that because of country’s
selfish greed and sinister intent to become prosperous, innocent lives had
traumatically fallen. Overall, the Spanish were at fault for this tragedy
because they were blinded by the concept of colonization and globalization. In
addition, Casas even claims that he finds it almost hypocritical that the
“Spaniards who call themselves Christian” were held responsible for
the bloody massacre of the innocent indigenous Americans.
Overall, it may be said that both
Christopher Columbus and Bartolome De La Casas’ entries were imperative toward
the history of understanding the very first voyages to the “New World”.
It was evident that the Spanish empire wanted to fulfill their deepest desire
of bestowing their faith on the indigenous Americans and getting their hands on
the riches that they possessed, not caring if it would result in bloodshed.
Both of their retellings even provided better knowledge of the characteristics
and the ways of the indigenous individuals who inhabited the Bahamian island in
the late 1400’s and the early 1500’s to historians.