Was Columbus a hero for the New World or a villain? 

Asked on by carlaqb

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is, of course, no objective way to answer this question.  However, I would argue that Columbus was neither a hero nor a villain to the New World as a whole.  He might personally have been a villain to some of the people with whom he dealt, but to the New World as a whole, he was not.  To the New World as a whole, Christopher Columbus was personally irrelevant.  Everything that happened to the New World would surely have happened without him.

To say that Columbus was responsible for what happened to the New World is to believe that, but for him, the New World would not have been discovered by Europeans any time near to 1492.  This seems extremely unlikely.  The Europeans were spreading out and embarking on voyages of discovery.  Surely, some Europeans would have chosen to explore to the West.  When they did, they would have found the Americas and all of the things that happened after Columbus would have happened even without him.

Columbus’s voyages led to terrible disasters for the people of the New World.  But those disasters would have happened even if Columbus had not made his voyage.  Columbus himself is not personally important  to the overall course of the history of the New World.

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