Curtis Dahlgren
The Founders, part III: The two views of Columbus
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By Curtis Dahlgren
December 3, 2019

"Christopher Columbus was no saint, but to affix blame to consequences he could not have foreseen and to attitudes he could not have envisioned adopting seems somewhat pointless." – "Christopher Columbus and His Legacy, Opposing Viewpoints"

WHAT DO YOU MEAN "SOMEWHAT" POINTLESS? Unlimited modern lambasting is more like picking the scab off a wound before it heals. And "what the world needs now" is healing. A man I used to attend church with was a teacher and he was all enthused in the 1980s about the new "more honest history" that was being introduced (by the Left, of course). He didn't envision where it would all lead anymore than Columbus could have foreseen, or avoided, unintended consequences of his mission.

To put it bluntly, if there had been a European Union in the 1400s that had foreseen the future, with the power to ban exploration, Europe would have been over-ruled by a Higher Power because He had a plan for the New World. In part He wanted to end human sacrifice and tribalism and cannibalism over here. But also, to help feed the world's growing population. The western "natives" gave us corn and potatoes, and we gave them horses ("the horse brought tribes into increased contact, both peaceful and warlike" – another of those mixed blessings).

"Uncritical adulation and lambasting are both unhistorical, in the sense that they select from the often cloudy record of Columbus' actual motives and deeds what suits the researcher's 20th century purposes. That sort of history caricatures the complexity of human reality by turning Columbus into either a bloody ogre or a plaster saint." – intro to chapter 1, "Columbus evaluated"

As I said, discoveries started out as a symbiotic relationship and it didn't have to turn into a War of Cultures except for the always-imperfect nature of human beings. That's the #1 lesson of history, not that anyone "stole" anybody's Land.

"An important lesson of history is the eventual acceptance of many unpopular and even despised opinions. The ideas of Socrates, Jesus, and Galileo are good examples of this. It [is hoped] that after reading this book the reader will have a deeper understanding of the issues debated . . on which good and honest people disagree . . Those with whom one disagrees should not necessarily be regarded as enemies, but perhaps simply as people who suggest different paths to a common goal." – the editors

FROM CHAPTER ONE: "Adm. Samuel Eliot Morrison won a Pulitzer prize for Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus . . . It has been, since its publication in 1942, the definitive biography against which other Columbus scholars are measured." He wrote:

"In matters of religion he was so strict that for fasting and saying all the canonical offices he might have been taken for a member of a religious order . . . He was not, like a Washington, a Cromwell or a Bolivar, an instrument chosen by multitudes to express their wills and lead a cause; Columbus was a Man with a Mission . . He was a man alone with God against human stupidity . . against nature and the sea."

Columbus claimed to even gotten the idea for his first journey from an Old Testament prophet. I'm not sure but it could have been prophecies about "a highway," and he took it as a pathway through the sea. Morrison wrote:

"Columbus was a man of the Middle Ages, and in the best sense . . In his joyous sense of adventure and desire . . he was a modern man. This dualism makes the character and career of Columbus a puzzle to the dull-witted, a delight to the discerning. It unlocks most of the so-called Columbus 'mysteries,' 'questions,' and 'problems,' which were neither mysteries, questions nor problems to his contemporaries, but recent creations of dull pedants without faith who never tasted the joy of a sea adventure."

The writer says, "America would eventually have been discovered [even if Columbus hadn't been born], but who can predict what would have been the outcome? His voyages proved him to be the greatest navigator of his age, and enabled him to train the captains and pilots who were to display the banners of Spain off every American cape and island between Fifty North and Fifty South . . Waste no pity on the Admiral of the Ocean Sea! He enjoyed long stretches of pure delight such as only a seaman may know, and moments of high, proud exultation that only a discoverer can experience."

CONCLUSION: I've had the pleasure of being on the replicas of the Columbus ships, and would like to close with this quote:

"If there is anything I detest more than another, it is that spirit of critical historical inquiry which doubts everything; that modern spirit which destroys all the illusions and all the heroes which have been the inspiration of patriotism through all the centuries." – Chauncey DePew, president of the New York Central Railroad, speaking at Columbus Day ceremonies in 1892

P.S. Did you get the point? Patriotism and heroes are now the New Evil to the Left. Make America Great Again is perhaps the greatest evil of them all in its opinion. Columbus turned the world upside down as if it were an hour glass. Europe had music and arts in the 1500s, but its spiritual resources were running out. After Columbus, the creative juices and many blessings began trickling from the New World to the Third World like an hour glass. Everybody's a "critic" now, but let them be shamed into silence. America isn't called "the school house to the world" for nothing.

PPS: As for current news, I think Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler have had their 15 minutes of infamy. It's high time for the picking at scabs to be stopped in its tracks. Trump is sort of a richer Harry Truman who once said he was tired of men who keep saying "on the other hand." A one-armed man is better than one who is in a perpetual "search" for the right answer (the "search" is a delight, as someone said, because it allows one to ever avoid taking and firm stand on anything).

May America bless God for our blessings, past and present, before it becomes too late.

© Curtis Dahlgren

 

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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)

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