13 October 2015

Columbus and the Slave Trade

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

To replace the dying Haitians, this led to the massive slave trade from Africa. This trade began in Haiti, initiated by Columbus’s son in 1505. Columbus not only sent the first slaves across the Atlantic, he probably sent more slaves – about five thousand – than any other individual.

A particularly repellent aspect of the slave trade was sexual. As soon as the 1493 expedition got to the Caribbean, before it even reached Haiti, Columbus was rewarding his lieutenants with native women to rape. On Haiti, sex slaves were one more perquisite that the Spanish enjoyed. Columbus wrote a friend in 1500, “There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

Haiti became the site of the first large-scale slave revolt, when blacks and Indians banded together in 1519. The uprising lasted more than a decade and was finally brought to an end by the Spanish in the 1530s.

Columbus died well off and left his heirs well endowed, even with the title, “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” now carried by his eighteenth-generation descendant. Some historians believe he may have been a Genoese Jew, a converse, or convert to Christianity, probably from Spain. Spain was pressuring its Jews to convert to Christianity or leave the country.

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