Columbus and His Voyages IV
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2010
Having discovered a New World--which ironically he never firmly acknowledged as being anything but East Asia--Christopher Columbus left a mixed and controversial legacy.
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Lead: Having discovered a New World--which ironically he never firmly acknowledged as being anything but East Asia--Christopher Columbus left a mixed and controversial legacy.
Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: Columbus' firm conviction that a way to the east could be had by sailing west and his gritty determination in the face of repeated rejection can only but inspire admiration. Some European eventually would have made the intuitive leap over the Atlantic water bridge, but it was Columbus who did it and history lays some of its judgments about what followed that October morning in 1492 at his feet.
Like most scholars and sailors of his day, he believed the earth to be spherical, but his calculations were way off. He thought Japan was only 2,760 miles west, instead of 12,000. And as the evidence mounted, to his dying day, Columbus refused to adjust to this reality. He was a brilliant explorer but a cruel and incompetent administrator who eventually, at the end of the third of his four voyages, was returned to Spain in chains.
Columbus was deeply religious. Although his Church did not recognize, until 1537, the indigenous people as humans with a soul worthy of salvation, Columbus believed in their evangelization. Despite this, he enslaved many Indians and laid the groundwork for the European invasions that destroyed civilizations of ancient vintage and, through disease, exploitation and mistreatment, caused an enormous holocaust--the deaths of tens of millions of Native Americans.
Thus the conclusion of history can only be that, like most humans, Christopher Columbus was a man of his time, and his career produced great accomplishments--but at a great price.
The producer of A Moment In Time is Steve Clark. At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.