Making Columbus Day a National Holiday


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The Journal of Christopher Columbus written in 1492 is the first European written encounter with the Native Americans. The Age of Exploration was a movement of people which began a quest to sail to India, China, and the island of the East Indies for luxury goods such as silk, tea, spices, and porcelain. In addition, Columbus had a mission to spread Christianity because his patron had this interest. Columbus’s motives were religious and commercial wherever he went. Columbus had asked for financial help throughout Europe, so he would be able to sail to Asia. Eventually, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who both lived in Spain decided to become his sponsors. Exploration was possible because of the new technology and scientific attitude of the day. The journal reveals Columbus’s thoughts as he makes this encounter.

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Christopher Columbus was a very great sailor due to the amount of time he took to sail and study ocean currents and wind patterns. Columbus had the idea that the earth was round, it was just something that had faded throughout history, but recurred to people once Columbus brought up the idea. He wanted to travel to Asia and thought he could do so by traveling westward across the Atlantic. People of the day thought he underestimated the earth’s size. Sailing was possible due to the caravel, which was a ship capable of traveling far places. Technology such as the compass and quadrant made it possible for sailors to determine their location and where they were going. These advancements made it possible to travel longer distances.

Columbus’s voyage traveled on three ships for his voyage which was the Nina, The Pinta, and the Santa Maria that had been sailed on for thirty-three days. It is thought that he landed in San Salvador for his first landing, later he came across the other island of Hispaniola as well as Cuba.

After he spent time with the Native People Columbus wrote in his journal about his impressions. From his writings, we learn as soon as Columbus saw what the Native American’s values were, he began to plan how they could be used and be converted to Christianity. Both the Europeans and Native Americans were already exchanging gifts and forming great friendships. Columbus’s first impressions were that the Native Americans seemed to be poor, naked, and youthful. Their bodies were handsome and they painted their faces, bodies, around their eyes, and around the nose with colors such as red, black, or whatever color they were able to find. Their hair was short, course, to the eyebrows, except a few locks behind, with long hair that was never cut. Since they cut themselves with a sword, it seemed these people didn’t really know how to use weapons. People from different places came to capture them, but the Native Americans defended themselves.

Columbus soon discovers the islanders wear gold. As the sun rose, Columbus noticed that the people had loose and coarse hair, beautiful eyes, and were the color of Iranians. The Native Americans came out in all sorts of canoes holding a different variety of people on each canoe. They brought all kinds of small things to be given in exchange. Columbus was interested in gold and had seen an Indian wearing a piercing of gold. Columbus found out about a king who lived on the island with gold, yet he could not get the Indians to go take him there. Columbus and his crew take note of other items on the island. Columbus went hunting birds on the boat and soon Martin Alonso Pinzon came up to him with some cinnamon and told him that one of his crew members told him he saw an Indian carry two bunches of cinnamon. No one was allowed to barter due to the penalty enforced to any person who bartered, so this Indian hadn’t bartered. Columbus found out that plenty of cinnamon, pepper, ships, gold, and many items of merchandise was in the area. Gold soon becomes his main focus.

Everyone seems to know Columbus as a humble guy, but he was actually interested in gold, God, and glory. He had plans to use these Native Americans and search for gold on this island. He was also a Christain, he thought it would be easy to convert the Native Americans to Christians since they seemed all friendly, so he thought anyone would be able to be converted to Christianity. The Native Americans did not know much of anything, so he believed that these people are not as good or inferior to the Europeans. He decides that he will take seven of the inhabitants back to learn the language or see what the king and queen will have to do with them. In a historical context, this is Columbus’s first writing about his first contact.   

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