Monday, Oct. 10, 2011

He Set Some Bad Precedents

During his second expedition, launched after he promised the Spanish court to return with vessels piled high with gold, an exasperated Columbus decided to take out his frustrations on the natives. He reportedly corralled some 1,500 Arawak men, women and children, and selected 500 of them to be taken to Spain. Nearly half died during the voyage over and many more would perish soon after being put up for auction in Europe. In the coming centuries, millions more — mostly slaves taken from Africa — would die transiting this ghastly Middle Passage. Columbus also, in part, announced the brutal arrival of Spanish rule in the Caribbean: men under his command became known for the casual, indiscriminate violence they wreaked upon the locals. Within a matter of decades, much of the Caribbean's indigenous population would be wiped out.