American Heritage: A weakness within Columbus overtook his intended missionPublished 10:25pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012
“If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, ‘Thou art my confidence’; If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.” Job 31:24-28
Columbus proved that he was a human being who had to deal with a battle between what was good in the sight of his God, and what he desired as a man.
We left off with the journey of Columbus while he was meeting with the natives of the island where he landed. These natives became known as Indians because Columbus thought that he had landed on an island near India. As a result, he called them Indians.
Columbus and his crews had noticed the natives had ornaments of gold around their necks and in their noses. This stirred the human element within the person of Columbus. He began to inquire as to where the natives found their gold to make their jewelry. Through sign language they were able to tell Columbus that they got their gold from a king on an island south of where they were living.
Gold fever now took over Columbus and his reason for continuing on with his search of this new region of discovery. He and his crew set sail, heading south in search for gold and wealth. During his voyage, he discovered Cuba on Oct. 26, and hoisted his flags, celebrating the discovery. Each island where they landed, they also planted their crosses, “as a token of Jesus Christ and in honor of the Christian faith.”
He always gave strict orders that his men would respect and not mistreat the friendly natives that inhabited the islands where they landed. He wanted to maintain a good reputation with the people.
He had, however, taken captive some natives to make them interpreters for their return to Spain. Some of these natives were on the Santa Maria. They began to enjoy their role and they told Columbus, out of their appreciation, where they had collected nuggets of gold. They told him about a place called Babeque. The gold fever began to spread and increase. On Nov. 18, the Pinta separated itself from the other two ships, the Nina and the Santa Maria.
On Dec. 5, Columbus decided to pursue the idea of finding Babeque himself. Bad weather caused him to turn back. They were blown to a large island that Columbus named Espanola. It was another beautiful island. Columbus ran out of superlatives to describe what he was seeing.
It was a short time after midnight on Christmas morning that Columbus put in to a cove on the Santa Maria. The crew settled in for the night so they could get some rest. All of a sudden, a great swell came up and grounded the ship on a coral reef.
Columbus ordered a boat to be lowered to take care of what was necessary to get themselves off the reef before the tide caused more problems. The sailors on the boat panicked and headed for the Nina.
The captain of the Nina, Vicente Pinzon, sent one of his boats to assist Columbus and the Santa Maria. But, the help came too late. As the tide went out, the ship was ripped by the sharp coral and it was all over for the Santa Maria.
The people of the island were very kind to Columbus and his crew. What started out as a disaster, turned into a very positive situation. It was on this island where Columbus found his masks, bracelets, necklaces and rings of gold that he had been pursuing. The natives even helped the crew to unload what was left of the items on the Santa Maria and stored the items in their own houses. They even posted guards to ensure that their things would not be stolen. Columbus named this place La Navidad which stood for “The Nativity.” Columbus then set about building a fort with a mote and a tower.
Finally, Columbus boarded the Nina and left the island with 38 men. There were 39 men who volunteered to stay behind.
Columbus determined to return to the island in a year’s time.
Columbus headed for home. On the way he would be tested with many hazards of the sea. Storms that just would not let up and seemed as though the would rip the ship apart, hit the Nina, giving the crew the idea that they would never see their homeland again.
Finally, on March 15, 1493, he returned to Spain and entered the port of Palos. He had now been gone from his homeland for seven months and 12 days. As he arrived, people were waiting with a welcome that would have been given to a king. They knew that his journey was a success. He had found the “unknown land.” He brought back some of the natives. What excitement spread through the port.
The king and queen had heard of his success and made preparations to welcome him. Columbus, the man who had no popularity prior to his journey, had now become a very popular individual.
Over the next 12 years, Columbus made four very important voyages. During this time, his popularity began to wear off. Queen Isabella remained his friend, but soon she would die and the king was not so friendly. All funds for future journeys were dropped. On May 20, 1506, Columbus uttered his last words. They were “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” Columbus was now gone. But not his accomplishments.
Due to his daring voyage in 1492, many nations had a desire to have possession of some parts of the new world. He had taken the fear out of sailing the seas to this new land. The French, the Dutch and the English navigators made many voyages to the new land and laid claim to the areas that they had discovered.
In 1496 a man by the name of John Cabot had command of a small English fleet. He sailed west and discovered a large island. It became known as Newfoundland.
Other attempts were made by the English to establish settlements, but they were not successful. Finally, in April 1607, 105 people landed in Virginia. They built a town and called it Jamestown, in honor of their king. Captain Smith was one of the men who was involved in this exploit. Our journey will continue in our next article.