Although he’s most remembered for “discovering” the Americas, land on which native peoples had been living for thousands of years, Christopher Columbus was also a slave trader.
After Columbus found what he thought was the eastern edge of India on his first voyage, he found the natives he encountered “ought to make good and skilled servants” according to his diaries. He also at first expressed an eagerness to bring religion to the natives, saying “I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion.”
Above: Columbus “discovers” the New World
On the contrary, Columbus didn’t just not let religion get in the way of his profiting off slavery: he actually believed God embraced his slave business. On his third voyage, Columbus wrote during his return to Hispaniola in 1498, “From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold…”
When word of Columbus’ torture sessions and brutal rule over “the new world” made it back to Spain, the explorer was hauled back to Spain in chains to serve in prison. Despite all this however, he’s still celebrated each year in much of the United States on Columbus Day, October 12.
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