Reagan: Christopher Columbus ‘invented the American spirit’

by WorldTribune Staff, October 10, 2022

“Columbus is justly admired as a brilliant navigator, a fearless man of action, a visionary who opened the eyes of an older world to an entirely new one. Above all, he personifies a view of the world that many see as quintessentially American: not merely optimistic, but scornful of the very notion of despair.” — President Ronald Reagan

While leftists continue their attempts to drag down the legacy of Christopher Columbus, many Americans celebrate Columbus Day on Monday, a day set aside to commemorate his landing in the Americas in 1492.

Team Biden on Oct. 7 issued proclamations declaring Oct. 10 both Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day.

The Daily Citizen’s Paul Batura noted on Oct. 7: “Some cynics have suggested Columbus’ journey was all about money and even furthering the slave trade, but the records suggest otherwise.”

Columbus would write: “It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies.”

Reflecting on his accomplishments, the explorer wrote: “I pointed out that for the execution of the journey to the Indies I was not aided by intelligence, by mathematics or by maps. It was simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied – It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth [Isaiah 40:22].”

The Italian-born explorer also credited Psalm 65:5 for inspiring him to undertake the expedition: “By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.”

When Columbus landed, he planted a cross and named the island “San Salvador” – which means “Holy Savior.”

The four voyages of Columbus

[From American Minute with Bill Federer, Four Voyages of Columbus to the New World – and Hurricanes in the Caribbean]

1ST voyage (1492-1493), he discovered land: Columbus used his knowledge of the “trade winds” to make the longest voyage ever out of the sight of land.
Thinking he had made it to India, he referred to the inhabitants as “Indians,” and the name stuck. It is interesting to consider that native Americans might never have been called “Indians” had it not been for Islamic jihad cutting off the land trade routes to India. These first inhabitants were peaceful Taino Arawak natives. Columbus thought that Cuba was the tip of China and that Hispaniola (Dominican Republican/Haiti) was Japan. Returning to Europe, Columbus’ ship, Santa Maria, hit a reef off the coast of Hispaniola and wrecked on December 24, 1492. He left 39 sailors in a make-shift fort named La Navidad.

2ND voyage (1493-1496), he encountered a hurricane, malaria, and cannibals: Columbus was frustratingly saddled with 17 ships and 1,500 mostly get-rich-quick Spanish opportunists. This was the doings of the jealous Spanish Bishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, who continually undermined Columbus at the royal court. Fonseca thought it was a mistake that the Spanish Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, gave so much authority to a “non-Spaniard” — Columbus being just a low-class Genoese, from the rival Italian city-state of Genoa. In this sense, Columbus was the victim of racial discrimination. Bishop Fonseca is to be blamed for altering Columbus’ goal from finding India and China to managing hundreds of ambitious settlers. Columbus was an amazingly gifted explorer, but unfortunately failed miserably as a governor.

Looking for a location for a settlement, Columbus explored Puerto Rico and Jamaica. Arriving at La Navidad, Hispaniola, they were shocked to find that the sailors Columbus had left the previous year were all killed by natives. Reality set in. Instead of finding a paradise, Spaniards were shocked to discover the existence of aggressive Carib natives. Caribs would land on an island inhabited by the peaceful Taino Arawak natives and proceed to emasculate, sodomize and cannibalize them.

Columbus had them establish the settlement of La Isabella on Hispaniola, but shortly after it was destroyed in a hurricane, a storm of unbelievable intensity which none of them had experienced before. They abandoned La Isabella and founded a new settlement named Santo Domingo, presumably in honor of Columbus’ father Domenico. After the hurricane, followed by malaria, together with the fear of cannibals, the Spanish settlers began to feel Columbus misrepresented this new world “paradise.” They began to grow impatient at having to obey Columbus, who, after all, was not even Spanish, but rather an Italian of low birth from Genoa.

Columbus unfortunately yielded to their greedy demands and allowed them set up European-style feudal plantations, called “mayorazgos.” This tragically set a precedent for generations of mistreatment of native populations. Columbus sailed back to Spain, leaving his two younger brothers Bartholomew and Diego (Giacomo) in charge of Santo Domingo.

3RD voyage (1498-1500), he faced doldrums, rebellion, and was arrested: Columbus sailed across the Atlantic further south, closer to the equator. This brought him through a stretch of sea called “the horse latitudes” and “the doldrums,” where there is no wind for weeks at a time. Parched in the windless heat of the blazing sun, Columbus prayed that if the winds returned, he would name the first land he saw after the Trinity. When the winds picked up, Columbus named the first land he saw “Trinidad.”

Columbus then set foot and planted the Spanish flag on the Paria Peninsula of present-day Venezuela, August 1, 1498, making him the first European to set foot on South America. He explored the beautiful Orinoco River, speculating that it could be the outer regions of the Garden of Eden. When Columbus arrived back at his settlement of Santo Domingo, he found that the greedy Spanish settlers had rebelled against his brothers, Bartholomew and Diego.

In despair, Columbus sent a letter to the King, pleading for help. The plea was intercepted by the ambitious Bishop Fonseca, who convinced the King that, instead of sending help, he should replace Columbus as governor. The King sent a replacement governor named Bobadillo in 1500. Bobadillo arrested Columbus and his brothers, and sent them back to Spain in chains.

Columbus wrote to a friend and confidante of the Queen, Dona Juana de Torres: “I undertook a new voyage to the New World which hitherto had been hidden … They judge me there as a governor who had gone to Sicily or to a city or town under a regular government … I should be judged as a captain who went from Spain to the Indies.”

4TH voyage (1502-1504), he survived another hurricane, explored Panama, and was shipwrecked on Jamaica for a year: After a two year delay, Ferdinand and Isabella finally permitted Columbus to sail on May 12, 1502, from Cadiz, Spain, on his last voyage. Columbus was forbidden to visit his settlement of Santo Domingo, but upon reaching the Caribbean, he was alarmed to see another hurricane brewing, similar to the one experienced at La Isabella.

Weighing the risk, he entered the harbor of Santo Domingo to warn them of the approaching danger and to seek shelter for his ships. He anchored and rowed ashore. A second replacement governor had arrived named Orvando. He ignored Columbus. Orvando was preoccupied in preparing to send back to Spain the previous governor, Bobadillo, along with a treasure fleet of 30 ships filled with gold and native slaves. Unwittingly, the ships would be heading directly into the path of the hurricane. Columbus’ warning was completely spurned, as he was considered an unwelcome persona-non-grata. Orvando ordered Columbus to immediately leave the harbor. With the hurricane now fast approaching, Columbus did not even take the time to pull aboard his row boat. He sailed as fast as he could to seek shelter from the wind on the far side of the island.

The hurricane hit around July 1, 1502, with such fury that it almost completely destroyed Santo Domingo. Of the treasure fleet, 4 ships returned to Santo Domingo, and 25 sank, with the loss of approximately 500 lives, including Bobadillo. The one ship that survived and made it to Spain was the Aguja. It was so old and slow that it had not yet cleared the island mangroves when the hurricane hit. When the ship arrived in Spain, to everyone’s amazement, it was found to be the one carrying Columbus’ portion of the gold, per his initial agreement with Ferdinand and Isabella.

The providential nature of this incident vindicated Columbus’ reputation, though he did not find out about it for over a year, as he was blown around the Caribbean. Describing the violent weather, Columbus recorded: “The tempest arose and wearied me so that I knew not where to turn, my old wound opened up, and for 9 days I was lost without hope of life; eyes never beheld the sea so angry and covered with foam …” He continued: “The wind not only prevented our progress, but offered no opportunity to run behind any headland for shelter; hence we were forced to keep out in this bloody ocean, seething like a pot on a hot fire. The people were so worn out that they longed for death.”

After a day and a half of continuous lightning, Columbus’ 15-year-old son, Ferdinand, recorded that on December 13, 1502, a waterspout passed between the ships: “… the which had they not dissolved by reciting the Gospel according to St. John, it would have swamped whatever it struck … for it draws water up to the clouds in a column thicker than a waterbutt, twisting it about like a whirlwind.”

Columbus’ biographer, Samuel Eliot Morrison described Admiral Columbus: “It was the Admiral who exorcised the waterspout. From his Bible he read of that famous tempest off Capernaum, concluding, ‘Fear not, it is I!’ Then clasping the Bible in his left hand, with drawn sword he traced a cross in the sky and a circle around his whole fleet.” Columbus explored the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. He briefly landed in Panama, but was too ill and too suspicious of the natives to cross the 50 mile-wide isthmus on foot to the Pacific side, where he could have seen the real route to India and China. As it was, they were attacked by Indians, and barely made it out of a shallow Belen River at low tide with 3 of his 4 ships. Another ship was lost in a storm off Cuba.

With his last two ships worm-eaten and taking on water, he beached them on the Island of Jamaica at St. Anne’s Bay, on June 25, 1503, marooned for the next year. An accomplished explorer, Columbus had been diligent to keep track of the position of the moon and stars in the night sky of the Western Hemisphere, something that had never been observed before. Using astronomic tables made by Rabbi Abraham Zacuto of Spain, Columbus summoned the chiefs to his marooned ships on the specific night of February 29, 1504. When he correctly predicted a lunar eclipse, the natives became afraid and convinced Columbus had divine favor. They abandoned their plans of attack and continued to provide for them.

Finally, Columbus’ captain, Diego Méndez de Segura, purchased a canoe from the natives and set off with several of them from Jamaica toward Hispaniola (Haiti), crossing 450 miles of open sea. Arriving there, Méndez found Governor Ovando in the jungle, subduing the Taino Arawak natives. Ovando was not thrilled to hear that Columbus was still alive and waited months to send help. Being rescued at last, Columbus returned to Santo Domingo for a final visit, then to Spain, arriving on November 7, 1504.

Three weeks later, his chief patron, Queen Isabella, died. Columbus died a year and a half later at the age of 55.

As for addressing the charges Columbus enslaved natives and even profited from trading and selling people, historian David Barton writes: “Nearly all those he forcibly brought to Spain were the cannibalistic Caribs or those captured in justified warfare … the modern claims that he was a heartless genocidal maniac are false.”

Batura added: “Perhaps most telling of Columbus’ genuine faith is the fact he never tried to claim credit or genius for successfully navigating four remarkable trips to the ‘New World.’ So, go ahead and ignore those who decry the man, and celebrate Christopher Columbus with a clear conscience and a grateful heart.”

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