From the journal of Christopher Columbus:
In all the world, there is no better people nor better country. They love their neighbors as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and are always laughing.
They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned … They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance … They would make fine servants … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.
As an explorer, Columbus was not the first to reach the Western Hemisphere. Native Americans had been here for 10,000-20,000 years, and Vikings and Chinese are among those others who hold prior claims. Even after four attempts, Columbus never realized his goal of finding a western ocean route to Asia. As a “founding father type figure” he never set foot in what is now considered America but landed in the present day Bahamas, Cuba, and Haiti. As a Christian example he enacted terrible cruelties to friendly natives: assuming unlawful rights of authority; robbing and subjugating whole nations of their freedom and entire capital; allowing his men to rape, murder and pillage at will; and deliberately leading the way for the genocide of millions, considered by many to be the worst demographic catastrophe in recorded history.
So why do Americans celebrate Columbus Day?
Read the rest.
For a fuller history lesson on Columbus and the atrocities committed by him and his voyagers, see Eliacin's blog for a longer passage from a A People' History of The United States.