Every sentiment from some of the events and findings Columbus observed on his famous 1492 voyage are recorded in his journals.
Excerpts from said journal are what help historians and students understand what was going through his mind during the historically renowned voyage that would alter the course of history forever. Columbus articulated his thoughts and descriptions of the journey to one of his crew members, who is actually the author of Columbus’ journal. Though the crew member that wrote down all the information for Christopher Columbus is not named or cited, he was instrumental and the main factor in preserving the stories and thought of Columbus. The excerpts sourced begin with the first entry dated Friday, August 3rd, 1492. Columbus speaks of the strong breeze felt on board his vessel.
After a little over a month at sea, the first report of a discovery is entered in the journal on Monday, September 17th, 1492. Columbus describes weeds seen floating, indicating that land couldn’t be that much farther away. About a month later on October 11th, crew members found a cane, a log, a carved stick, and a cane plant in the waters. This was a big sighting at the time, since cane grew on land. It would only be a few more hours until Columbus, the 2 other captains, and armed men would finally land ashore land on smaller boats.
On this day, Columbus called the 2 captains upon land with him so that they could “bear witness” he claimed the land for the king and queen. Though Columbus would take claim to this land, their were already inhabitants of the island he landed upon. As recorded in his journal, the Natives encountered the Europeans with a very friendly nature, and Columbus, along with the other men on the voyage, figured that these people would be much easier to convert to Christianity when treated with kindness, as seen in this portion of a journal entry ” As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force”. The Europeans also assumed that these people were not to the same standard of sophistication as them and Columbus even ventured to believe the Natives were extremely poor since they didn’t wear clothing. This misunderstanding of culture only helped to boost the “superiority” mindsets thee Europeans had. It is well noted in Columbus’ journal that the men took notice to the “well made, fine shapes and faces” of the Natives.
As the two groups exchanged pieces of one another’s culture, the Europeans made the assessment that the Natives had no weaponry. The Natives offered Columbus’ crew things such as parrots, javelins, cotton thread, while the Europeans offered low value items to them such as red caps and strings of beads. When Columbus showed them the swords, the Natives “grasped them by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance”. The Europeans felt no religious presence amongst the native people ad thus concluded that they would easily be converted to Christianity. Columbus thought so primitive of the Natives that the October 11th journal entry ends off with him saying he planned on taking 6 of them back across the Atlantic to teach them another language, a more civilized one. On October 13th Columbus and his crew began to inquire about gold acquisition, and from observing small amounts of metal items and jewelry on individuals they believed going south would run them into a king of some sort with large amounts of gold. On October 15th they arrived near the cape, told to go there by locals.
Columbus believed that they were told this so that they’d leave, but the Europeans figured they’d just “take possession” of all the islands and in doing so they’d find what they were looking for. This last entry basically foreshadows the Europeans starting to conquering the Americas. Though Columbus’ exploration of and voyage to the New World in 1492 was just the first step in a large chain of historically altering events, it was a big step. The exchange of new items and goods seen in his very first journey would be a precursor to The Columbian Exchange, which would see livestock, crops, people, and diseases go across the Atlantic Ocean both ways.
(Strayer, Robert. Ways of the World. p.469). The Columbian Exchange allowed tobacco and chocolate to become world-wide uses, and the stereotypical Native American on a horse was made possible, as horses originated in Europe. The large amounts of silver found in the New World due to later European exploration would lead to the reshaping of the World’s economies. (Strayer, Robert.
Ways of the World. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016 p,470). In conclusion, the first voyage by Columbus and the events entered in his journal set a lot in motion that would alter the path of global history forever.