Columbus was convinced that he was on the precipice of great change, as a result he resolved to document his entire journey, giving rise to some of the best historical accounts during his period. The excerpt for analysis focuses on Columbus’ discovery of the Taino Island and its people. At the core of Columbus’ motivation lay the economic benefits that he would reap from his excursions. His journey was focused on the search of treasure, a factor that can be noted from his descriptions. For instance, he asserts; “And I was attentive and labored to know if they had gold, and I saw that some of them wore a small piece hanging from a hole which they have in the nose… 1 ” summing his main goal and purpose for his journey. It is also worth noting that Columbus was driven by the desire to win favor from his king and Queen, a motivation that can be noted from the rigorous declaration he and his captains engaged in upon docking on the island.
Columbus goes ahead to offer a description of the people of the island, in the process revealing his attitude to them. He considered them to be smart based on various reasons, for one, he managed to make conversation and glean the information, and as such labelling them intelligent. He also thought the people of Taino to be good servant and laborers. By describing their physique, Columbus saw them as potential servant for various tasks, a perspective captured in the statement;
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“They should be good servants and of quick intelligence, since I see that they very soon say all that is said to them, and I believe that they would easily be made Christians, for it appeared to me that they had no creed 2 .”
Columbus went on to focus on the friendliness of the people. For instance, when offered gifts they went beyond their means to ensure that they offered something in return even if it meant removing accessories from their bodies. However, he also finds them to be largely savages from their nakedness and finds it necessary to take some as a gift to his King and queen.
A number of factors do stand out from the Columbus’ journal. For one, it is the staggering intoxication that the journey had on Columbus, an aspect that can be noted from his obsession with being the first one to conquer the islands. More interestingly is the low regard he held for the people upon the analysis of his descriptions. Columbus keenness on his environment and surroundings is also worth noting. Upon setting foot on the island, he take note of everything, from the weather, to the topography of the land, to social institutions and even including their biological appearance. He is quick to note the absence of any religion within the island, a factor that he quickly computed to hint at an easy conversion to Christianity. It is rather interesting to establish a link between Columbus’ personal goals, ambitions to the contemporary globalized world that is characterized huge multicultural interactions on a daily basis, all built upon centuries of explorations and treasure seeking.
1 Benjamin, Thomas. "The Atlantic World." Europeans, Africans, Indians, and their Shared History, Cambridge: CUP (2009). 75
2 Ibid, 76