Columbus And the world before he sailed the ocean blue…
Bellwork- What do you know about America before Columbus? Share some of the things you remember with a partner Where did you learn this?
Pristine Myth • In America today, a myth persists, claiming that in 1492 the Americas were a sparsely populated wilderness- a world undisturbed by human civilization, waiting to be discovered and settled
In Reality • The Americas were highly populated, with the U.S. and Canada estimated to hold between 10-20 million people • Native Americans cultivated and shaped the wilderness into thriving civilizations. Earthworks, roads, fields and settlements abounded. Early Europeans likely saw more farmland than wilderness as they sailed along the northeastern coast.
Perspectives • Read the following quotes on Christopher Columbus and be prepared to discuss- What do these 2 perspectives tell us about Christopher Columbus? • “He stands out among the beacon lights of history as a man of vision dominated by a definite purpose.”- John George Jones “What we committed in the Indies stands out among the most unpardonable offenses ever committed against God and mankind and this trade [in American Indian slaves]as one of the most unjust, evil, and cruel among them.”- Bartolome de las Casas
What do the textbooks tell us? • “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” • Excerpts • Heroic discovery of a new continent • What does ‘discovery’ imply?
In Reality • Significant evidence that Columbus was not the first to cross the Atlantic • 1492- Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, funded by Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain • Didn’t actually believe the world was flat • Myth created in 1828 by Washington Irving • Believed in the possibility this was a new continent • Amendment to his family crest
In Reality cont. • Introduced slavery • Not only the first, but probably more than any other individual- apprx. 5000 • Fixated on the finding gold • Domination on native inhabitants • Plague • Superior weaponry • Disrupted Native ecology, religion, economy, politics
In Reality cont. • Mercantilism • Economic system- objective is to gain as much wealth as possible • A country’s power depends on wealth • Requires a favorable balance of trade- sell more than you buy
Columbian Exchange • Massive impact on both Europe and the Americas • Animals, plants, diseases and people all crossed the Atlantic, changing the fabric of all nations involved
From Europe to America • Animals • Horse, cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens • Plants • Rice, wheat, barley, oats, coffee, sugarcane, bananas, melons, olives, dandelions, daisies, clover, ragweed, Kentucky bluegrass • Diseases • Smallpox, measles, chicken pox, malaria, yellow fever, influenza, the common cold
From the Americas to Europe • Animals • Turkeys, llamas, guinea pigs • Plants • Corn, potatoes(white and sweet), beans(snap, kidney and lima), tobacco, peanuts, squash, peppers, tomatoes, pumpkins, pineapples, cacao, chicle(gum) papayas, manioc(tapioca), guava, avacado • Disease • Syphilis • System of wealth- influx of gold and silver saturated the European economy
Conclusions • “Columbus’ importance in history owes precisely to his being both a heroic navigator and a great plunderer.”- James Lowen • Why do you believe Columbus is typically remembered as he is?
Closure • In groups of 2 or 3 discuss the following • Why do you believe the Pristine myth exists? • Has your opinion on Columbus changed today? Why or why not? • How should Columbus be remembered? • Prepare to share your answers with the class