In Defense of Columbus: An Exaggerated Evil

The best TV shows and movies are the ones
with characters who are faced with moral quandaries that explore the gray area between good and
evil. People like to imagine what they would do
in those situations and can usually easily see themselves on either side. In real life though, we fit people into black
and white categories. A decision is either right or wrong and someone
is either good or evil. We often want to categorize people so much
that we will create a fictionalized version of them in order to shove them into one of
these two boxes. Columbus is one of those people. You probably have one of two views of Columbus. You might think that he was a brave explorer
who proved the world was round and by doing so, discovered the United States, and if that’s
the case – Congratulations on graduating elementary school! Now, I know every grown up says this, but
a lot of things are about to change for you, and not just for you personally but for what
you think you know, so… enjoy it while it lasts. But odds are you probably think… Columbus was an incompetent buffoon who never
even set foot in America. Christopher Columbus was an idiot and dum-dum. He got lost coming here, and he’s the one
who called us Indians because he thought he was in India. He was a doofus who was terrible at math. Yes! I’m one of history’s greatest monsters! Whoa that’s quite the contrast really. Well let’s take a look at the facts and
see if we can’t figure out which ones have been misunderstood, misattributed, exaggerated,
or straight up fabricated. Wow that was a lot of big words, I feel like
Johnny Cochran, only way underpaid… Anyway, might as well start at the beginning,
right? Columbus couldn’t have discovered that the
Earth was round, because in his time, it was already common knowledge. Globes for sale, perfectly ordinary globes
for sale! The way Adam phrases this makes it seem like
Columbus thought he was the first person to conclude that the world was round. He didn’t, nor did he claim to. People since ancient times knew the world
was round, nobody thought the world was flat. Some people probably thought the world was
flat, some people today think the world is flat, some people are idiots. But I also want to bring attention to those
“perfectly ordinary globes.” Globes weren’t exactly common back then,
in fact, this is the oldest surviving globe in the world, made in 1493, completely separate
from Columbus. Here’s a question for you, what continent
are we looking at? You don’t have to answer now, but just tuck
that thought away in the back of your mind. This projection of people saying what they
think Columbus thought doesn’t end, especially when it’s ridiculous. My math says that the Earth is teeny tiny
and shaped like a pear… and at the top, it has a succulent nipple. He actually believed that? Yes! I actually believed this! Do I actually have to talk about this… No, he didn’t think the world was shaped
like a pear with a nipple on top. In fact, I had never heard that claim before,
but luckily, Adam gives us his source. Who actually never says that Columbus thought
the world was shaped like a pear. In fact, she says “putting all of this together,
Columbus reasoned that the world was shaped like a ball with a breastlike protuberance.” Breastlike protuberance… On his third voyage, he wrote a rather poetic
letter describing how “he felt himself not just crossing the ocean but going up it. Had he reached the very tip of the protuberance,
he would have sailed straight into the Terrestrial Paradise.” So what does he mean by that? Well back in the day, maps were often oriented
with East on top, not North. And at the very far end of the east, or top
of the map, you would find the Earthly Paradise, also known as the Garden of Eden. This paradise was often depicted as sitting
on top of a protuberance. In one letter in 1498, Columbus ponders if
this depiction might be accurate. And then never mentions it again. The Earth is tiny, and also a pear, give me
money please. This man is an idiot. See what he did there? He took something that Columbus poetically
pondered once during his third voyage and made it look like he presented this idea to
the King and Queen of Spain. They didn’t fund his expedition just to
make him go away. The Ottomans had just defeated the Byzantines
and froze Europe out of the spice trade. And since Portugal was going all in on conquering
Africa and Spain had finally kicked the Moors off of their peninsula, they were ready to
get in on the whole exploration and colonization game. So what about all this whole “thinking the
world was tiny” thing that people keep repeating? Yeah that’s not true either. People knew the circumference of the Earth,
more or less. Turns out Columbus went with the less, but
stick with me. What they didn’t know was how big the ocean
was, or how big Asi- remember when I asked you what continent we were looking at on that
globe? It’s Asia. Here’s his globe projected onto a piece
of paper, and here’s a slightly less confusing version of that same projection, they thought
Asia was much larger. But this isn’t the guy I want to talk about
since he’s not really connected to Columbus. This is the map Columbus was going by, made
by Toscanelli in 1474. This is China on the globe we saw earlier,
this is China on Toscanelli’s map. It was Toscanelli who told Columbus “the
said voyage is not only possible, but it is true, and certain to be honorable…. And to yield incalculable profit.” Miscalculate the distance to what you wrongly
think is Japan, even though people have been calculating the circumference of the Earth
pretty well for centuries using sticks in the ground and shadows and math. He calculated the journey from Spain will
take him just 21 days. He underestimates the distance by 7000 miles. What’s striking about this is that any educated
person would know that Columbus was wrong. I guess by “any educated person” they
mean not Toscanelli, who is widely considered to be one of the great cartographers of his
time. So much so that Adam throws this in the background
to make it look like Columbus wasn’t listening to Toscanelli – when he clearly was. It’s actually pretty good attention to detail
that the map Columbus was pointing to in that Mankind scene is Toscanelli’s map. So where did they get that whole “7000 miles
off” thing? This is what Columbus was aiming for, Cipangu,
which is supposed to be Japan. Obviously, this isn’t where Japan really
is – but that is where everyone thought it was. So it wasn’t Columbus’s calculation of
the distance that was off, it was ‘any educated person’s’ positioning of Japan. Columbus was also hoping that there would
be uncharted islands off of the east coast of Japan, so when he landed here, that’s
what he thought found. And died thinking he had made it to India. People saying that you’re not in Asia? Insist that you are. He didn’t think he was in China, he didn’t
think he was in India, he thought he was somewhere new… off of the coast of Japan, but still
somewhere new. Remember, he landed here, which… there is no land on the map right here, so
what was he supposed to think? And here are the actual land masses. Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola,
which is 7000 miles away from Japan. That’s where they got that number. So I suppose he kind of got lucky that he
accidentally discovered some new land. He didn’t discover America, and he didn’t
prove the Earth is round. Christopher Columbus was a savage man who
didn’t discover North America, didn’t prove the world is round. This is something you’ve heard everywhere
and is probably already down in the comments. Whenever Adam says America, he’s referring
specifically to the United States… which is a little strange. The Some News segment is a little more honest
by saying NORTH America. Which is true, he never landed in North America. So let’s about the guy who did, Leif Erikson. In 985 the Vikings set up two settlements
in Greenland – if you didn’t already know this, the name was just a sales technique
to get more settlers. Greenland is very much not-green. Which meant that the settlers there had to
travel further west in the hopes of finding timber. Erikson’s winter camp at L’Anse aux Meadows,
Newfoundland lasted one year before being abandoned. The Greenland settlements were mostly forgotten
by the rest of Europe because of the Black Plague, and they were finally abandoned in
1408. I personally have a problem with people who
say that the Vikings discovered America first. Imagine it’s 2010 and someone offers to
sell you bitcoin for ten cents a piece. You decline it because it’s stupid and worthless. Now it’s 2017 and they’re worth $10,000
each and you tell everyone about how you could have been rich because you knew about bitcoin
back in the day but never actually did anything with it. Okay, now swap out bitcoin for America and
extend the time scale to 500 years. The Vikings didn’t discover America first. They stumbled upon it looking for timber,
stayed for a year, but then left. And not only did they never come back, but
they just plain forgot about it. Their find amounted to nothing. Columbus’ discovery, on the other hand,
opened the world to two entire continents and changed world history forever. On his third voyage, in 1498, he landed here,
which he named the Gulf of Paria. And then, he named all of this Paria. This is the Terrestrial Paradise he was talking
about in that previous letter. He describes that the “[Land of Paria] is
a mighty continent that was hitherto unknown.” So not only did he know he found something
new, but he was describing the South American continent. He believed that the Caribbean islands, as
well as this new continent, were only slightly to the south east of Asia. Which is also what people like Amerigo Vespucci
believed. Amerigo Vespucci is an interesting character
in our story. Because he was full of-. He straight up made up two voyages, so historians
take what says with a grain of salt. But while he was in the service of Portugal
in 1502, he was mapping the coast of the continent and realized he was further south than anything
previously mapped in Asia. So he too thought that this must be a previously
unknown fourth continent. But his letters don’t account for huge river
deltas that would have been impossible to miss had he actually been there so… This was four years after Columbus said that
Paria was a hitherto unknown continent. And just like Columbus, Amerigo thought that
this continent lied directly to the south of Asia. So why is it called America? Well the usual story goes that Amerigo beat
Columbus to the punch when it came to publishing his findings and that the name was settled
on in 1507 by the Waldseemüller map. Unfortunately, it’s just not that cut and
dry. This is the map, the Universalis Cosmographia. And here is the new, fourth continent, named
America, the female latinized version of Amerigo’s name. But up here to the north, we see a smaller
fifth continent named Parias, the latinized- you get it. Waldseemuller didn’t settle the dispute
or settle on a name, he credits both Columbus and Amerigo in the top left corner. There are still a few interesting things to
note on this map. Like this, this is still Cipangu which is
supposed to be Japan, and there are a number of places on the east coast of America which
are also on the east coast of India. Which shows that educated people still weren’t
entirely sure if America and Asia were connected or not. Anyway, the name Parias slowly falls out of
favor after they realize that North and South America are actually connected. Though even in 1587, Mercator named the northern
half “America… or New India”… so you know, it took a while for people to settle
on a name. So now that we’ve cleared all of that up
– kind of – and we’re in America, we need to talk about how primitive or not-primitive
the Native Americans were. People on both sides tend to lump all Native
Americans in together. They’re two huge continents spanning thousands
of miles, what’s true for one tribe isn’t necessarily true for another. If one tribe had mapped the stars and created
an almanac, that doesn’t mean they all did. If one tribe didn’t use the wheel, that
doesn’t mean they all didn’t. Some of them did invent the wheel, they just
didn’t use it for hauling because they hadn’t domesticated draft animals yet. I would have been fine with that statement,
until he said the word “yet.” This implies that given time they would have
eventually, when no, they wouldn’t have… ever. Not because they’re intellectually inferior
or anything like that, but because they had a really difficult spawn point. There are no draft animals – or work or
pack animals – in the Americas. There are no horses, donkeys, or camels. And because of that, they had reached somewhat
of a cap on their civilization tech tree, you can’t advance and have large cities
without animals. In fact, with the exception of the llama in
Peru, they didn’t have any domesticated animals. There were no cows, pigs, or chickens, which
left the Native Americans incredibly vulnerable and susceptible to disease. Again, not because of any genetic inferiority,
but simply because of their difficult starting location. Since Europeans and Asians had been living
in close proximity with animals for centuries, they had built up an immunity to all sorts
of animal diseases, like cow pox, chicken pox, and the various swine and avian flues. So on Columbus’s second voyage, when small
pox was introduced to the New World, it burned through the entire continent killing 90% of
the native population well before they had even heard of a European. This was inevitable and unavoidable. Whether it was Columbus, anyone who followed
him, or a Chinese explorer coming the other way. It was also unintentional at this point. The small pox blankets thing happens way later
in the 1700s. The point is by 1600, 90% of the native population
had died, so when the first British colonists arrived in North America in 1607 and 1620,
they found the land to be mostly uninhabited. Pre-Columbian population numbers for North
America vary widely, from 50 to 100 million. But everyone pretty much agrees on the 90%
disease mortality number, which means that we’re talking about 5 to 10 million in 1600,
spread across the entire continent. Before you go thinking that that’s exceptionally
bad, just remember that only 150 years before Columbus, Europe lost around 50-60% of its
population to the Black Plague. These epidemics just kind of happened. If you don’t count the quarter million Taino
people who lived there already. Occupied, someone lives here. Right, I know this part, he thought he made
it to India. Ugh we’ve covered this already. What a silly mistake. Yes, if by silly you mean brutal. Brutal is not a synonym for silly. The Taino treated Columbus and his crew with
the utmost hospitality. Hug? We need reinforcements! That’s not how it happened, Columbus didn’t
freak out and get reinforcements. On his first trip he bounced around a few
islands, left 40 people to establish a fort, and returned home to report his findings. The King and Queen sent him back after only
6 months with the expressed purpose of establishing more permanent settlements. So what did Columbus think when he first saw
the natives? Did enslave and brutalize the nice people
he found. There are journal entries literally from him
describing the natives being kind and bringing him things, having no knowledge of guns, so
they’d be easy to enslave. Okay that is a lot to unpack. But this is something that people bring up
all the time, that in his own words or in his own journals he said this or that. The most common quotes used are the ones he
shows, so let’s start with this one about them making good servants. What do you notice about this quote? How about the fact that it’s neither the
beginning nor end of the sentence, there’s clearly more to it. So we’re going to have to look it up. And here it is. “It appears to me, that the people are ingenious,
and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians,
as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are
spoken to them.” In full context, the word ‘servant’ could
mean slave, or ‘servant of god,’ or ‘subject of the crown.’ When they just cut out the ‘ingenious, good
servant’ part, it only means slave, they remove any context and any doubt. But these are Columbus’s own words, we have
to take them at face value since we can’t figure out what he really meant, right? Do you see where I’m going with this? These weren’t his own words, because his
name wasn’t really Christopher Columbus, it was Cristoforo Colombo. Oh look, what do we have here? Yes, I really do have that kind of time on
my hands. Here’s what we’re looking for, from October
11, 1492. Now we have to translate it. Let’s just shove it in Google translate
and see what we get. They must be good servants and of good wit
that I see that very quickly he says everything he told them… Blah blah. Obviously google isn’t the best translator
since it doesn’t carry meaning very well. But it takes some linguistic gymnastics to
get from “they must be good servants and of good wit” to “the people are ingenious
and would be good servants.” They picked the absolute worst, most biased
translation to quote as “journal entries literally from him.” Fun fact, the Italian translation of his journals
don’t have the word servant at all, instead they translate it as servant of God or… For more on how bias can influence how the
same words can be translated to mean wildly different things, might I suggest watching
the movie Arrival. Don’t worry, I’m not going to do this
process for every single quote. But this is another one people like to refer
to, “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men, and govern them as I please.” Here’s the Spanish, and here is what Google
translate says. “Because with fifty men they are all subjugated,
and it will make them do everything they want?” Okay that ending doesn’t make all that much
sense… but I can tell you what it doesn’t say. Conquer them and govern them as I please. But just to be sure, let’s look at a different
translation of the same quote. “For with fifty men they can all be subjugated
and made to do what is required of them.” The words conquer or govern don’t appear
anywhere here either. Again, they picked the worst possible translation
to highlight. Again, in full context, in this section Columbus
is asking what the King and Queen want done with the natives – suggesting that fifty
men would be all that is required to hold the island. There is nothing about governing them as he
pleases. And while we have Columbus’s journals open,
there’s one more thing I’d like to point out. Let’s say I brought a bunch of Indians back
to Europe to show off, and most of them died on the boat ride over. Because that’s true, I did that, that happened. Just say that you only meant to bring six
in the first place. Okay, well let’s see what he has to say
in his own words. Conveniently, the sentence in question is
right after that first quote we looked at. “If it please our Lord, I intend at my return
to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language.” This was written two months before his journey
home. So unless they’re implying that Columbus
had a time machine and was able to change what he said from the start… And there’s yet another aspect to this I
want to bring up. None of Columbus’s original journals survive. All we have are transcriptions of his journal
written by someone who has probably already been mentioned in the comments below. Bartolome de las Casas. People often, incorrectly, say that las Casas
traveled with Columbus. Nope. He arrived in Hispaniola in April 1502 with
Nicolas de Ovando. Three months before Columbus’s fourth voyage
arrived in the New World. As far as we can tell, they never crossed
paths. Bartolome de las Casas was a noble who was
given an encomienda in the New World. Encomienda was the Spanish feudal system of
lords and peasants. And that’s what the natives were, peasants,
not slaves. Columbus said he wanted to subjugate them,
which means turn them into subjects of the crown, not enslave them. They were forced to work against their will,
but nobody owned them, nobody could buy or sell them. In 1515, las Casas gave up his encomienda
and advocated instead for the use of African slaves. That’s right, the Protector of the Natives,
as he would later be called, was the one who advocated for the Transatlantic Slave Trade,
which then started under Nicolas de Ovando, not Columbus. And became the progenitor to the Transatlantic
Slave Trade. And not his son. But Diego has built on my work with the Indians. Helping to found a triangular trade route
that represents the world first multi-national process, streamlining the Transatlantic free-labor
market, insourcing African workers. In 1530 he transcribed Columbus’s journals
and in 1542 he wrote “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.” Which is the thing that everyone points to
as las Casas saying Columbus was evil. He only mentions Columbus once, and it’s
rather neutral actually. The account is baout those who came after
Columbus, including de Ovando, who is “best known for [his] brutal treatment of the native
Taino people of Hispaniola.” Keep that in mind, because it becomes important
later. Columbus was removed as governor of Hispaniola
in 1500 and put in jail. Not because of his brutal treatment of the
natives. But because of his mismanagement of the colony,
meaning he wasn’t extracting enough gold, and complaints from the Spanish colonists. Cut off people’s hands. Cut off people’s noses and hands unless
they give you silver, right? He was doing that to the Spanish. I’m sure he did it to the natives too, but
the King and Queen didn’t really care about the natives at this point. But his punishment was that he was removed
as governor and put in jail for a total of six weeks. After which he was given everything back and
sent out on his fourth voyage… so you can see how much they really cared about punishing
him. But it was while he was arrested that he wrote
an important letter. Girls as young as nine years old were sold
into sexual slavery. My customers wanted new world sex slaves,
and I heard them. Actual Christopher Columbus quote. This actual Columbus quote comes from the
important letter I just mentioned. In the letter, he complains about the robbing
and sexual slavery of the natives. Which is why he cut off colonist’s hands
and noses. And that “the violence of the calumny of
turbulent persons has injured me more than my services have profited me; which is a bad
example for the present and the future.” Am I saying that Columbus was a good guy? No. But am I saying that he was against the very
thing that people say he was for? Yes that’s exactly what I’m saying, yes. They’re quoting his complaint about a thing
happening and saying he was doing it, that’s… talk about taking something out of context. So Columbus was not the governor when las
Casas arrived. Las Casas had already given up his encomienda
and started the slave trade by the time he transcribed Columbus’s journals. So at this point he has every incentive to
make Columbus look as bad as possible, in fact it’s common knowledge that he paraphrased
and exaggerated. This is made even worse by Black Legend, which
is a propaganda campaign by English historians to make the Spanish look much worse than they
really were. So when people say “from Columbus’s own
journals” what they really mean is “from one specific and biased 1892 English translation
of the 1530 transcriptions of Columbus’s own journals, originally written forty years
earlier.” I hate to draw this comparison, but it’s
kind of like directly quoting Jesus. He didn’t speak English, and what you’re
reading is a centuries’ old translation of a third person account of what he said,
written hundreds of years afterwards. Oh yeah, that’s another thing, those original
transcriptions and even the translations of Columbus’s journals are written in third
person too. Columbus’s regime was so senselessly brutal
that by 1542, the Taino population on the island had fallen to 200. As we’ve already established, “Columbus’
regime” only lasted until 1500. Adam is attributing an entire 50 year span
to one person, 42 of which wasn’t even under Columbus. Do you even remember who the president was
42 years ago? De Ovando, who was the most brutal if you
remember, was in charge for longer than Columbus. 50 years is a long time, that’s 2 or 3 generations. Not only was Columbus dead, but his sons were
dead. I mentioned this in my Oregon Trail video,
but this is another example of taking something that occurred over decades and compressing
it down to blame it all on one guy. 50 years is twice as long as the Oregon Trail
existed. So okay, something else that really stuck
out to me is that 200 number. No matter what source you look up, you’ll
see 1542 population numbers around 2000 to 5000. Which is still small, don’t get me wrong,
but it’s 10 to 25 times larger than what Adam is saying, so where did he get this? Here…. “by 1542 there were fewer than
200.” But wait a second, did you notice something? Here, Adam says the Taino population in 1492
was 250,000, which is pretty accurate to what everyone else says. But in Adam’s source, it says the population
was 1.1 million, which is ridiculous. So don’t use the source when the numbers
are wildly unbelievable, but use it when it fits your narrative I guess. So how many people did Columbus and his men
kill, and does that count as genocide? If we take that 250,000 number and subtract
the 90% mortality rate from dis- The answer is that it doesn’t matter, that’s not
what genocide means. In 2012, George Zimmerman shot and killed
Trayvon Martin, that fact is beyond dispute. But he was found innocent, so how is that
possible? Because he was tried for murder, not manslaughter. Murder requires an intent to kill. Zimmerman didn’t leave his house that day
saying “I’m going to kill a black kid today.” Proving intent when the only witness is the
perpetrator is nearly impossible, and intent matters when trying to define a crime. After the Vegas shooting a few months ago,
many people wanted the crime labelled as an act of terrorism. Terrorism is the use of violence, or fear
of violence, to further a political agenda. There was no stated political purpose or message
behind the shooting, it was just a senseless mass murder. The intent is what matters. So when we look at what happened with Columbus
and his men, nobody can deny that mass killings took place. I am not trying to deny, excuse, or minimize
what happened. But when trying to label what happened as
a genocide, we have to look at the intent. Genocide, as defined by the UN, is an “act
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial,
or religious group.” Columbus’s intent was not to- wipe them
out, all of them. In his own words, he wanted to subjugate them. It wasn’t racially or ethnically motivated,
it was conquest motivated, and those who fought back were killed. When Napoleon was trying to conquer Europe,
he killed hundreds of thousands who resisted and we don’t call that genocide. The end result is the same, whether we’re
talking about Trayvon Martin, the Vegas Shooting, or Columbus. People were killed and that’s awful. But when trying to label the crime as manslaughter,
murder, terrorism, or genocide, it’s the intent that matters. You and I would likely agree on the number
of natives killed, but we might disagree on what to call that crime. For centuries, Christopher Columbus was a
historical footnote. But that all changed in 1828 when Washington
Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and other tall tales, wrote the first English
language biography of Columbus. Historical footnote… right… that’s why
this state capital, the district of the nation’s capital, this state capital, and this territory
were all named after him. Not to mention all the other cities and counties
in the US and an entire country in South America… all before 1828. Truth is Columbus and his imagined female
goddess form Columbia have been part of the American story since the beginning. Here she is telling you to ration food during
World War 1 and here she is in the painting you all know, even if you’re not American,
as the depiction of Manifest Destiny. Admittedly, American folklore has probably
turned him into a bigger deal than he should be, given his rather minimal involvement in
US history. Which is why I don’t personally think we
should have a day for him. But, conversely, I also disagree with just
renaming it Indigenous Peoples’ Day… because what is it really? Ah f**k him. Yeah f**k Columbus. F**k Christopher Columbus. This’ll be f**k you. It’s just Anti-Columbus Day. What do people do on Indigenous Peoples’
Day? They hate Columbus, they burn him in effigy,
and they hold mock trials of him. If you want to have a day where we celebrate
native history and native cultures, then let’s do that. Don’t just name swap it and make it hate
on Columbus day – we don’t have days where we hate on objectively more evil people like
Hitler or Stalin… it’s weird. Was Columbus a good guy? No. Was he a bad guy? If we look at him through a historical lens,
not really, he was no worse than anyone else. But if we hold him up to modern standards,
absolutely, he was a bad guy. Columbus is just one part, the first part,
but a relatively small part, in what happened to the Native Americans. So why do people hate Columbus – or rather,
why do people want to hate Columbus? Why do people seem to exaggerate and even
go so far as to fabricate evidence in order to discredit, downplay, and demonize him? Well, Wonder Woman got it right… Maybe people aren’t always good. Don’t you wish I could tell you that it
was just one bad guy to blame? It’s not! De Ovando was objectively worse, Cortez and
the other conquistadors were objectively worse, and the US government was most of the time
objectively worse. But more than that, all of the unnamed soldiers
under these people were the absolute worst. But despite all of that, Columbus is the one
everyone can name. To many people, Columbus deserves none of
the credit for discovering America, but all of the blame for what happened to it. If we can pin 400 years of awful history on
one guy, then it shifts all of the guilt for what happened to the Native Americans away
from the rest of us. Well, the rest of you, my relatives didn’t
come over until after the end of the Indian Wars, so not me. Putting people into nice neat little boxes
of good and evil just isn’t that simple, people are more complicated than that… and
deep down we all know that. We just don’t want it to be true. We a villain to blame. And the next time someone tells you that Columbus
is responsible for the genocide of millions or that he thought the world was shaped like
a pear, hopefully now, you’ll know better. So what do you think, was Columbus the most
evil person to walk the earth, or just a man of his time? Who’s story should I deconstruct next? Let me know down in the comments and don’t
forget to discover that subscribe button. Yes, this is chocolate, and I can’t wait
for all of you to tell me how dangerous this is in the comments below, at least it’ll
be a nice change from everyone calling me a racist. When you’re done with that, follow me on
facebook and twitter and join the conversation on the subreddit.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I liked the video and thought it seemed researched correctly; but being an American and getting your president wrong from 42 years ago, makes me question the other data and facts proposed.

  2. 16:06

    "[…] de siete que yo hice tomar para llevarle al almirante para que aprendieran a hablar y bolvellos(volverlos cristianos?). Salvo que usted en cuando mandare los pueden llevar a Castillas, o tenerlos en la misma isla cautivos".

    That's the part above the one you did translate, and it says (forgive my broken english):

    "[…] of seven [men/women] I hath taken to send [to the admiral] and make them learn to speak and turn them(christians?). Unless you want to send them to Castilla (Castille) or have them captives in the island itself".

    "Sojuzgados" has a certain connotation in this context, it normally means 'subjugated', but it can also be understood as 'dominated' or 'conquered via violence'.

    Great video, seriously, but you cannot ignore those "little details".

  3. The 5:41 Adam Ruins Everything video has over twice as many views as this. The masses of people would rather spend 6 minutes listening to someone reinforce their pseudo-rebellious views than spend a half-hour learning from a well-researched objective presentation.

  4. So Adam ruins everything just digs through the darkest depths of the Internet to find nonsense to prop up his own position wow who would have guessed

  5. Back then there were different values and morals, judging historical people by modern day values isn’t the correct thing to do. You should judge that historic person by how morals and values were in that time. Columbus maybe murdered people but so did almost every other important person, that’s the nature of humanity.

  6. A really good video, the only part I have a problem with you saying the Vikings didn't discover America. They did, you referenced it in your video, Greenland. Greenland is geographically apart of North America, it's only because of it's colonial history with Denmark is it considered culturally European and thus "not America".

  7. Oh people think Columbus was soooo bad. Darwin legit was a white supremacist and supported slavery. He thought black people were inferior to white people

  8. To Me he's nether the Heroic explorer nor a evil monster, more like the guy who accidently changed history for everyone including himself.

  9. I found this informative and entertaining, however I want to address the mistake at and around 8:18. The claim that Vikings did not do anything with America seems to be a half-truth at best. There are runestones scattered all across the United States, one of which I live close to– the Heavener Stone, in Heavener, Oklahoma. Though I do not believe this was Leaf Erikson's doing, it does prove that there were Pre-Columbus Northern Europeans in the United States– so far in the United States, in fact, that they made it to what could be considered to be the middle. This is not a fluke. Though translations have varied on the Heavener Stone, it either translates to a burial stone or a land-claim for the individuals who made it there.
    I hope this can be corrected.
    I do very much enjoy what you do, and absolutely despise the cancer which "Adam Ruins Everything" is to facts.

  10. To be honest, a lot of this is semantics. Not all of it, but a lot of it. A "ball with a breast-shaped protrusion" is not the exact same wording as "a pear with a nipple on top" but that's roughly what a ball with a breast-shaped protrusion would look like. More importantly it ignores the important part of the argument, which is that he believed the world had a bizarre shape and – not mentioned by you but included in the text – he thought he was going to be sailing upwards into the sky. That's still absurd, even by beliefs during the day.

    Forced labor is still slavery, he still had intentions to conquer, he was still a mass murderer even if he doesn't fit the specific definition of genocide. The killing of Treyvon Martin is one of the worst parallels you could use, since the dude was obviously still racist and malicious even if he couldn't be charged under the definition of murder. I am also skeptical of your readings of some of the quotes since you don't appear to be a historian whose job it is to interpret this stuff in context, and you appear to be cherry picking arguments from different sources to support your own arguments, including Google Translate of all things?

    The point is that Christopher Columbus is celebrated and honored as a hero, who has a number of accomplishments incorrectly attributed to him, which is worse than overly villifying him because he was not a good man. He may not have been one of the most evil men in history but he was still cruel and should not be celebrated.

  11. Llamas and Alpacas… They didn't need the wheel because of all of the rocky mountainous terrain. Which would've rendered the virtually useless.

    Vikings had settlements in Wisconsin but we're wiped out by the equally badass native Indians.

    America is named that because the landmass was named so by the natives.
    They called it Amaru Cah, meaning Land of the (Plumes)Serpent. If it were named after Amerigo Vespuci, it wouldve been called Vespucia. But it wasn't.

  12. very well done and informative, as well as necessary. thing is though you cant argue facts with attention seeking morons like Adam

  13. I think the ones to ask the last question you pose are those who live on Hispaniola (Dominicans and Haitians). Do they like being Dominicans and Haitians? Do they like the results of Columbus's journeys? Most directly those two respective countries/cultures would not have existed without Columbus so we should ask them.

  14. I think your video does a good job showing Columbus was actually a good man as judged by the standards of the time. I mean, just about everyone else involved or that we compare him to was pretty wretched. Also, it's also pretty telling that he was cutting off noses and hands as penalty for people making native girls into sex slaves, and that partly for this he was imprisoned. That suggests he was willing to go against a popular evil even if it didn't benefit but actually cost him something.

    My over all assessment is that he wasn't a saint, but he was an important leader doing the best he could in a difficult situation, and he seems to have done a better job than anyone else at the time.

    And that seems to be the only appropriate way to look at it. As I told a woke friend, if the rate of wokening continues, in a century people won't see much difference between my friend and Hitler for some ordinary everyday thing they will identify as the greatest sin ever.

  15. Probably everyone post 1900 except probably Jesus would be considered a massive asshole by modern standards. It's just disengenious to hold them up to our standards

  16. suidores could be s[er]uidores (one that gives servitude to the lord) or it could be s[eg]uidores (followers i.e. followers of God and or state… but most likely God, the Spanish were hardcore Christians). Hence when the Italians translated (who were also hard core Christians and who's language roots are also Latin) they understood the context and as you pointed out, translated it differently, i.e. properly. But hay, what is history when it gets in the way of propaganda, indoctrination and an agenda driven by identity politics that call out for the destruction of the West and its great achievements.

  17. The Adam video is just stupid, so Columbus was irrelevant until the US start celebrating Colombus day but there are countries named after him like Colombia.

  18. The Kings of Spain did care for the natives, they create laws that banned the slaving of the natives after all, you can't said the same about the other european powers.

  19. 11:51 yeah, pal… Explain why they mutilated each other and tortured and scalped each other for fun, it was because of intellectual inferiority

  20. its amazing the transformation of Columbus character throughout school: grade 1-6 he was considered a cool dude, grade 7-8 he was alright though had some flaws, grade 9+ he was hitler 2.0

  21. excellent video. You forgot a key word: Marxists. Marxists are the people who want to shit on every aspect of Western Culture so that you won't want to defend it against their totalitarian objectives.

  22. My 9th grade history teacher showed us the Adams video but I already knew Colombus was just a human, not the devil that destroyed the natives or thought the earth was a pear.

  23. Neil degrass Tyson and other scientists say the earth is more pear shaped because the earth is not a perfect sphere

  24. What's weird is that telling the truth doesn't make the history any "better". Why hate on Columbus? We got lots of people to hate on.

  25. I texted this to my liberal friend tonight. Here’s how it went down:

    Me: sends video
    Him: Is this saying Columbus isn’t evil?
    Me: No, just that it’s exaggerated.
    Him: So you’re not denying that he was evil?
    Me: Right, that’s what I just said. But…
    Him: So why did he kill so many natives?
    Me: He didn’t. Disease did. He actually wanted to bring them back to Europe.
    Him: And enslave them, right?
    Me: Maybe…if you’d just watch the damn video you might find out.

    You can’t reason with liberals. I don’t know why I even try anymore.

  26. whats important is that you pointed out that native american is not a single group its like saying native eurasian, north african there are many different ethnic groups that are completely different

  27. Solid video in general, but I disagree that forcing a population to work against their will isn't slavery just because they aren't bought or sold.

  28. This just in: Adam ruins everything is the worst show of all time. k thanks. Adam's show is bias towards political ideas – its not about showing what is really true, its about promoting a political agenda – Adam is an SJW feminist nitwit. Stay away from his show, its not education: its indoctrination.

  29. Gotta disagree with you hard on the viking stuff. Just because you don't correctly estimate the value of one of your discoveries, doesn't mean you didn't make that discovery. Science and history is riddled with instances of this kind of hindsight.

  30. You have to study the tratado de tordesillas made years before Colombo's travels, between Spain and Portugal to understand what Colombo did and achieved… Pedro Alvares Cabral and other Portuguese sailors, had already crossed south american lands…

  31. I made a bad comment for a different vídeo a while ago but I liked this vídeo well documented (despite I think Colon had some bad traits, mainly excessive greed, and do not like this historic character much).

  32. 21:30 I guess you hate to be wrong. John wrote Revelation himself, and the Gospels were not written, "hundreds of years later", but by people from within the lifetime of the Apostles. How could you not know this, when PAUL'S LETTERS are a big part of the New Testament? People weren't illiterate in those days.

    Also, most people read the New International Version of the bible, which is a RECENT translation of texts from across history, including those close to the life of Jesus and the Apostles. It has also been found, in those research programs, that the consistency of the bibles' many, many, many copies throughout history, is better than any other historical document. Copies of the Iliad are nowhere near so accurate and consistent, for example. And those inconsistencies are actually in fluff, like Jesus something being called, "the Lord Jesus," or other subtle changes to names which have no impact on the veracity of the text.

    The mistake you made puts all the other mistakes to shame, as they're minor and inconsequential compared to this idiotic bungle.

  33. Hi there, I'm Jesse Wuest and I host History of the Atlantic World Podcast and I'm finishing up a 5 hour episode on Columbus now it should be out in a couple of weeks. This episode is simultaneously the greatest video I've ever seen about Columbus and also is making me scream a bit internally.

    Wow! What a great video! I'll be honest I have never seen Adam Ruins Everything but you're absolutely right about Columbus supposedly being an idiot – Columbus was no bafoon. In fact his insistence on having reached the Indies and not new lands were more a response to Spanish law – the contract which Ferdinand and Isabella gave him offered him a viceroyship in the Indies. A fuckin' viceroyship – there was no way he was ever going to publicly admit that he wasn't in the Indies because that would be literally destroying the foundation upon which everything he'd worked his whole life for rested.

    But I was of the opinion that the reason Columbus is "evil" is mainly specifically because of his actions in the year 1495 – which was the year he spent governing Hispaniola and waging war on his previous allies the Taino (earlier he'd promised to only enslave the enemy Carib Indians). He did this – wage war and enslave his allies – because Hispaniola was not producing as much gold as he'd promised the Catholic Sovereigns and his financial backers and so he was under a great deal of pressure to produce profit. Also, because he spent 7 years of his life in the 1470s-80s operating caravels for the Portuguese and the newly formed Atlantic slave trade they created. Incidentally, half of the Spaniards on Hispaniola by 1495 also hated Columbus and they were also at war with the Admiral – and literally throughout his life people kept mutinying against Columbus. Anyone who really knows Columbus hates him because he was as talented at catching and selling slaves as he was at navigation. If we are to admire Columbus the Navigator than we must also reckon with Columbus the slave-catcher and despot of Hispaniola.

    Columbus actually did think the world was shaped like a pear after his third voyage – the "letter" you refer to was the official letter he sent back to Ferdinand and Isabella wherein Columbus (mind you he was suffering from several severe illnesses and thought of himself as a Biblical figure by this point in his life) began to hallucinate as he noticed the curvature of the earth around the equator. He had just discovered the Orinoco River and he believed that sailing it would sail him literally up into the sky, not east – as he would have been sailing west to go upstream anyway. Hence his belief in a pear shaped earth – east would have taken him back to Europe – he was not being mistaken for the way some maps were oriented in the 15th century – he was disoriented because he was suffering from malaria, a terrible type of arthritis, and god knows what else.

    As a final point, the population of Hispaniola was probably somewhere between 300,000-500,000 in 1492. Las Casas says it was 600,000 but he was probably overstating for his case that a genocide was occurring on Hispaniola (it was) – and while Columbus ultimately played a minor role in this – he did unabashedly begin the Taino genocide. Carl Ortwin Saur's "The Early Spanish Main" is a very good book on the subject – though if you want the grissly details of people being raped and tortured to death – Las Casas gives a primary source account of the death and destruction of the Indies. He wasn't with Columbus' voyage but he did personally interview many conquistadores who were – experienced the Indies himself – and also had access to Columbus' log book and numerous other documents.

    I agree that Columbus probably has a worse reputation than he should have but under no circumstances would I consider him to be against slavery. He absolutely started the trans-Atlantic slave trade via sending 600 Tainos back to Spain on his 2nd voyage. They died quickly and little profit was made from this. Now – this doesn't make him stand out from many of his contemporary conquistadores – but it does make him a terrible, terrible person. One of the worst of all time. He deserves no defense regarding the issue of slavery or Taino genocide.

    You specifically state that genocide requires intent. You mention Columbus' words. True – Columbus' words do not mention intent to murder anyone. Yet Columbus' actions in fact led to the death of many – both with the Tainos and the Spanish who served El Almirante. Frankly – if the word genocide existed in the 16th century Las Casas would have used that word. When you say "Columbus wasn't worse than anyone else" during his era – that's not exactly true. Columbus wasn't worse than any of the other conquistadores – yeah, Cortez and De Soto and everyone sure there's an argument I suppose – but that really fails to account for the literally hundreds of millions of people who lived during Columbus' day who did not rape, did not pillage, and did not murder.

    So, to answer your question – Was Columbus the most evil, evil person of all time or just a man of his time? Well, my answer is that Columbus absolutely was amongst the most evil people of his day – or all time for that matter. That he wasn't Hitler doesn't mean he won't burn in hell for his sins (I don't technically believe in hell but you get what I'm saying).

    Anyway, despite that critique I've really enjoyed the video – my knowledge of Columbus is exceptional so I'm not the average audience member on this issue – and in fact the reason I'm doing my episode is so similar to your own reason – because many people have horrible, horrible misconceptions about Columbus (and history generally). Please keep up the great work as your channel is fantastic!

  34. if colombus was so dumb why didnt the american indians create sea travel and conquor eurasia instead. aztecs cool tho.

  35. He really isnt defending Columbus here. Because you cant. He just used semantics and technicalities. Religious indoctrination and genocidal subjegation are both shitty.

  36. Intent matters less than what you do. Many confederates claimed that the civil war was about states rights not slavery…but what they did was leave the union in fear of slavery ending.

  37. Honestly you make a good point and I'm rethinking my opinion, now he wasn't the best person but not as bad has I thought

  38. 11:38 What do you consider large and city? Mesoamerican peoples had friggin pyramids. Running water (aquaducts), agriculture, government and religion. There was no need for work animals or technologic advances. Measuring a society by European standards. Why tho? It was advanced, just different.

  39. I speak Spanish @16:10 I'm no scholar so you're free to ask others what the text says instead of assuming what they could mean. From the top paragraph: "anyone could attack (conquer) them in two days / because their weapons are simple (nothing)."
    Bottom paragraph from third line down: We can take them to castilla (Spain) / or hold them all captive on the island / because with 50 men we'd have them under control (under subjugation) and have them do whatever I want /

  40. If I get terminally ill and loose my job and/or my income goes to treatment and I loose my house, it's not out of reach to say the terminal illness took my house. @villain. I guess it depends on whether it effects you negatively or positively. *if something doesn't effect you or your people, and you have an opinion're privileged

  41. The Mesoamericans had domestic dogs. Beyond that, they could have genetically altered alpacas and Lamas to take on a more “draft horse” appearance. Draft horses as we know them are a very recent invention. In the 1500’s all domestic animals were basically advanced landraces. So were alpacas.

    In terms of anthropology, this video is solid, but holy shit that not how domestication happened.

  42. columbus was the begining he was the start he was the cause since he was the first white men after 500 years from the vikings 500 years of history led to the killings and painful life to this day

  43. I hate these "educational" Comedyshows like Adam ruins everything. They can tell the most blatant BS and when you call it out its suddenly just hyperbolic and Comedy

  44. Adams Ruin Everything made a BS fact that I knew up front, the "source" made no claim like the one made in show, since then I can't take the show remotely serious.

  45. Vikings had been coming here for at least a few hundred years before Columbus and the Vikings had established trade route with some of the eastern native American tribes.
    Subject of the crown and put into forced labor means owned by the crown and enslaved unless you can actually locate an an indentured servitude contract with any said subject to prove otherwise. Colombus was temporarily jailed becuse he had failed to pay back debt to the crown he was only let go so that there would actually be a chance to collect on that debt. Columbus was a murderous, thief, hostage taking, rapist pig.
    Your relatives came here after the Indian wars so not you is an obsurd statement.
    Oppression of Indians tribes continued well after the Indian wars. Unfortunatly, today most Indian tribes hold themselves down or are held in defective reservation societies by corrupt tribal leaders. But American citeizans are really only excused from that issue for the last 40 years.

  46. You can think of Columbus as a hero who discovered the new world or a villain who discovered the new world. Fact is thtat he sailed into the unknown with three ships which could probably have led to the worst death imaginable. For that we know that Columbus a had a good pair of balls and he probably should have taken a fourth ships along just to carry his balls.

  47. Columbus was a great explorer, and also a greedy c*nt…thats a fact.. and it isnt anyting new lol. get over it

  48. Actually, with the vikings and America they found a runic inscription in Massachusetts. Just wanted to let you know, and several native groups talk about white men coming from the sea before Columbus. Sooooo…

  49. Also to be noted, "servidores", as it says in Coloumbus spanish journal, is not the most accurate translation to servants, which would be "sirvientes", which has a different connotation. The most common use of "servidores" is usually in religious context meaning "ones who serve God", which actually makes more sense considering he later talks about converting them in the same sentence. Of course, Spanish has changed a lot during the centuries so the words could have a different meaning, but as a Spanish native speaker it caught my attention.

  50. 2:13 I'm guessing that that globe was made by a German since in German it literally translates to "Earth apple" because erde means Earth and apfel means apple

  51. Slight correction, at 11:25 the Americas only had 1 domesticated large animal though only in South America mostly Peru being llamas and alpacas interestingly enough these animals are actually genetic cousins to camels just one more piece of evidence for pangea

  52. Very well presented. The fact that there is a celebrated day for Columbus is the catalyst for much of the hatred. The fact that Europeans kept so many records to look back on is part of the downfall. Also factor in the “ White Factor”. Atrocities have been committed by Black Africans, Brown Arabs, Yellow Asians, Indians of Asia, Indigenous Tribes of the Americas( slavery and cannibalism) et al. The written histories of many of these aforementioned peoples aren’t so well documented for the most part. Either lost through time or never written and kept through generations of oral history. So it becomes much easier to prey upon those who did great and terrible things with written histories ( again some rewritten to eventually cloud the truth). As you said we look at these people through a modern scope which is incredibly unfair. I could write a dozen books showing the new age bias against yesteryears achievements.
    All in all I enjoyed your video very much and I appreciate your evenhanded approach.

  53. I appreciate most of this video but going through Columbus' diary was the weakest part. Almost every quote you used still sounded bad after you looked at alternative translations within their respective context. But I don't think it takes away from most of your main points being made about how Columbus is taught through heavy screens of misinformation.

  54. Why would anyone actually believe Adam Ruins Everything is factual information? A smarmy dude unironically sporting a pompadour hairstyle who gets debunked more often than he hairsprays said pompadour…

  55. I have no concern about C.C.'s character or personal crimes and activity. He opened the door to the greatest invasion and one of the worst consequent genocides that I am aware of. Mister Columbo was a douche, but he is merely the 'symbol' of the horrors that followed, not their author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment