I woke up this morning to NPR letting me know that certain states don’t acknowledge Columbus Day anymore. Apparently, certain people groups are offended by that person and celebrating him is quite taboo. But I imagine this is not news to you, nor was it to me. (Is it just me, or is stuff like this not getting a bit old.)
When I came across a few journal entries of Christopher Columbus, I had to stop and take a look. I did know some trivia on the man. Like the fact that he turned fully gray by the age of 33. But other than that, these days, we don’t hear a lot directly from his own words. We are just told what to think or believe about him.
With that, here are a few of his own words I was able to locate about the famous Discoverer.
Columbus’ actual journals have been lost, but two of his companions, his son Ferdinand and Bartolome Las Casas, recorded abstracts of the original journal. At places they quote Columbus and in other places they summarize his journals.
Wednesday, Dec. 12th…
A large cross was set up at the entrance of the harbour, upon a beautiful spot upon the western side, “as an indication” in the words of the Admiral, “that your Highnesses possess the country, and principally for a token of Jesus Christ our Lord, and the honour of Christianity.”
Wednesday, Jan. 23rd…
The sea all the time smooth as a river, “many thanks be to God,” says the Admiral.
After his arrival in Lisbon, Columbus wrote a summary account of his voyage as a report for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. It was written as a letter to Rafael Sanchez, Treasurer for the royals, and clearly reveals Columbus’ motivation. The following quotes are from this letter:
“I named the first of these islands San Salvador [which means holy saviour], thus bestowing upon it the name of our holy Saviour under whose protection I made the discovery.”
Other names he chose included Trinidad [for the Trinity], and Monte Cristi (Christ’s Mt.].
I loved reading the parts where he gave the natives bright hats and other fun items he’d brought from Spain. Their delight and gratitude is touching. He goes on and on about what delightful people he was discovering along his way.
We hear a lot about Columbus these days. But many times, what we hear is what someone, centuries later, wrote about him, or knew personally about him. I like to know what he really said. What his colleagues wrote and what the courts documented. Much more fascinating, in my opinion.
When you google him today, as many of you I am sure will 🙂 just be sure to check your sources. Always default, when you can, to get it from the horses mouth. Someone that was really there- or spoke with someone that was.
Just my thots,
The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Washington Irving, (New York: Belford Company, n.d.,) pp. 632-633.
The following journal excerpts and quotes of Columbus are from the work of Las Casas, printed by Albert and Charles Boni, New York, 1924