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American Values from Columbus to Modern Times

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Since 1492 when Christopher Columbus first stepped onto the new land, he had values and laws. Many of which we still have today. Some of these values were good, while many were not. Some of the values that Columbus had were their selfishness, forcefulness, greediness, dishonesty, and they forced their religion and ways on the Natives. The main three are their want and gain for wealth, how selfish they were, and how they forced assimilation upon the natives. Today these are values/things that still exist today greatly.

First Columbus and his crew only cared about wealth. Columbus and his crew did go over to the Americas for other reasons, such as for land, but one of the other reasons that people do not talk about his wealth. They went over hoping that they would gain wealth and valuables. One of the first things that Columbus did when he stepped on the new land and when he saw the natives is he traded with them. He traded with them hoping he would get something good in return for something of little value. However, he did have self-control when he came up to their huts when the natives ran away. Instead of taking all of their things he just left it there untouched. He wanted to leave a good first impression on the Natives so that they would be able to trade more things together. In one of Columbus’s journal entries, it says, “I would not allow a thing to be touched, even the value of a pin. Presently some men among them came to us, and one came quite close. I gave him some bells and glass beads, which made him very content and happy. That our friendship might be further increased…” This quote shows exactly what Columbus was trying to do. He did not want to make the Natives mad so he tried to be nice to them, hoping to get valuable things in return. In today’s society that is still what everyone only cares about. They only care about money and how rich they are. People do not care if they are kind, loving, and honest. Americans only want money. People now look at people as good or bad on whether they have a lot of money or not. It’s not on if they are kind, compassionate toward one another, and honest. People also only do things if they get money in return, or something valuable. They won’t do things for people just to be nice anymore, they want money in return. As you can see, money is a major value that both the explorers and Americans now have.

Another attribute that both the explorers and Americans have is their selfishness. Both the people then and now have this thing in common, both only care about themselves and what they have. Christopher Columbus and his crew members search the island to find gold, which is the original reason why they set sail in the first place. They had heard that there might be another land and they wanted to be the first to find it and get the riches and gold from it. One quote that directly shows this about Columbus says, “I desired to set out today for the island of Cuba, which I think must be Cipango, according to the signs these people make, indicative of its size and riches, and I did not delay any more here nor…round this island to the residence of this king or lord, and have speech with him, as I had intended.” This shows exactly Columbus’s thoughts and what he values most. He only values what benefits him and values what he can gain from things. He is not looking to go to the other island because he wants to see the people and see what they are like, he wants to go to see what he can get from them. Also, he wants to see if there are any good riches there and to claim the land as his own. This is what people today do so much. They only care about what benefits them and they don’t care how it affects the other people around them. People will put others down just to make them feel good about themselves. People today care so much about themselves and forget that sometimes it is good to help other people just to be kind. Today if there is like one donut left, one person will just go and take it, instead of asking if anyone else wants it and if they do share it. He will just go up there and take it all to himself. That is how pretty much all of the population in America is now.

Finally, both the explorers and Americans today value that everyone has the same language, and beliefs. The explorers at first when they get to the new place they just let the natives live the way they are. Then after they have been there for a while they decide to try to get them to believe the same things as they do and to live the same way. When they let them live the same way they don’t bother them except for trading with them. The explorers are wandering the land and do get help from the natives but they do not try to change their way of life. But soon after they decide that if they take a few Natives then they can take them back to England so they can learn their way of life and then they can bring them back so that they can show everyone else. This though is not what the Natives think is happening. Because the Europeans just took the people and did not explain what was happening. A quote that shows this happening says, “A canoe came alongside us yesterday with six young men. Five of them came aboard, and I ordered them to be seized and brought them away with me…Men have often been taken from Guinea to Portugal to learn the language, and given good treatment and gifts…” This quote displays forced assimilation very well. It shows how Columbus is forcing his views and religion upon these new people. He is taking a few of them captive so that they can learn his ways. People do this today in modern America as well, just not to the same extent. Americans are doing this to any immigrants. They are requiring them to learn English and follow the ways of the other Americans. Politicians are also trying to do this with religion and their ways of life. They try to convince other people that whatever they say is the right thing, and when they convince so many people then they can force other people to do or believe the same thing. People now want everyone to believe and do the same things. As you can see, the force of language and religion is also a value that both modern-day Americans and explorers in the 1492’s had.

The Explorers and the Americans are very similar in their beliefs of wealth, selfishness and forced assimilation. Both the Americans and the Explorers only care about wealth, this is one of the main reasons why the Europeans went to the new lands. Americans are also very greedy toward wealth, but differently, they only worry about gaining money and wealth. They will work all day just to get wealthier. Both groups of people also are very selfish. They will both do anything to benefit themselves at other people’s costs. Europeans did this in taking people and things just for themselves, not caring how it affected the Natives. Americans today also do this, they just take things and don’t ask if anyone else wants it. The final major thing that both the Europeans and the Natives do is force assimilation. The Europeans did this by taking thirteen Natives with them just so that they could learn to ways of Europeans and then go back and teach the rest of their people what they learned. The Natives did not have a choice on whether to go with the Europeans or not. They were forced to go with. Americans do this same thing but in a different way. Americans are doing this with immigrants, they are not allowing them to take their ways and beliefs, they are forcing them to speak a certain language and to act a certain way. This shows that both the Americans and the Explorers act in very similar ways. Is this a good thing or a bad thing, and why have we not learned from their mistakes? Why do we keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

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