Monday, October 10, 2011
October 10, 2011: Columbus Days
In honor of … well, I’ve never been quite sure what we’re meant to honor today: the brave but delusional Italian-born Spanish explorer who thought (until the end, apparently) that he’d found China and ended his days having been thoroughly disgraced and dishonored, not to mention imprisoned and driven mad? The centuries of disease and slavery and genocide and strife that followed his voyages? Good sales at department stores? The long weekend? I dunno. But on the occasion, at least, of Columbus Day, here are six posts in which I tried to engage with the complex realities of the exploration and settlement era:
November 9: Mi Casas Should Be Everybody’s Casas: On Bartolome de las Casas, the Spanish Priest who devoted his life to fighting against the abuse and enslavement of Native Americans.November 22: Very Different Pictures: On the first truly brutal conflict between the Massachusetts Puritans and the local Native American nations, the Pequot War—and the 1820s novel that reimagined the conflict through Pequot eyes.
November 25: A Thanksgiving Turkey: On Rush Limbaugh’s version of the First Thanksgiving, William Bradford’s account of the same event, and the propaganda of history.August 25: Not Just Any John Smith and August 26: The Indian Princess: A complementary pair of posts on the narratives, images, and (as best as we can tell) realities of two of the most important early Virginians.
September 27: Accent-uate the Positive: My argument about the true American language is grounded in my desire to define a series of 16th and 17th century moments, and more exactly encounters and conversations between distinct cultures in those periods, as the origin points for the first truly American identities.Now get out there, wander into your neighbor’s yard, insist that you’ve really discovered the lost city of Atlantis, and enslave him and his family; it’s the least you can do today. More tomorrow,
BenPS. Any explorers, early arrivals or settlers, or stories from America’s first centuries you find particularly interesting?