European Discovery of America Facts and History

 Research Topics  Presentation Tips  History Essays American Colonies Early America

Until recently, most history books portrayed the discovery of the Americas as a great accomplishment for progress and civilization. On the contrary, history reveals that the actual consequences of the discovery of the Americas were conquest, exploitation, and death. Traditionally, history books taught that in "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue." America observes this event as a day of celebration. An event highlighted as one that brought culture, progress and civilization to an otherwise heathen nation of Native Americans. As a small child, teachers taught me that Columbus named America. In contrast, the book "Nation of Nations" states "Columbus did not recognize his true destination� Amerigo Vespucci cruised the coast of Brazil in 1501 and 1503 and named it America." (Pg.31)

Established American civilizations transformed into replicas of European civilizations. European ideas and religion replaced native ideas and religion. Those natives who did not conform and many that did, died. Natives quickly discovered European influence meant death, enslavement, oppression, and loss of a way of life. "You must give up those practices which offend Him (God). You must not cast of your wives, but keep them for life. You must not eat human flesh. You must not attend curing rituals or feasts of gluttony in which you become sick with eating. Above all, you must give up your belief in dreams "If we do these things and if we give up our belief in the dream, then the Huron life, the way we have always known, will end for us."1

Reasons for Exploration: Greed, Conquest, Religion

History reveals that the actual consequences of the discovery of the Americas were conquest, exploitation, and death. The Spanish searching for gold and other riches quickly conquered the natives in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America. These Spanish envisioned establishing a new world featuring themselves as the rulers and the nobility. To accomplish their goals the Spanish first had to conquer and create an oppressive regime. This meant enslavement to Native Americans. New world order brought the end to Native American tradition. "To provide workers, the Spanish government introduced another form of forced labor known as repartimiento. Whole villages of Indians were pressed into service in the mines, joining black slaves and free white workers employed there."

Greed seemed to overshadow much of the conquest of America. The French established outposts in Canada. Here they hunted and trapped animals for the fur trade in Europe. The French were not very interested in establishing a new world order but were more interested in raping the land of its wealth. They hunted and trapped animals for the European fur industry. In addition, the French had visions of serving God by converting the Natives to the Catholic version of Christianity. "Yet it is also the most advantageous way in which to make the journey. For if you travel with a hunting party of men, women and children, there is always the chance that, if a child or an adult fall ill en route, a soul can be gained for God by a deathbed baptism. Father Brabant and others have written in the Relations that each time they journeyed to the Huron lands they had the great privilege of saving at least one soul in this manner. Remember, such a blessing will more than justify all the perils and discomforts you may suffer."2

The consequence of the exploration of the Americas was death to Native Americans. Native Americans fell prey to European diseases of which they had no immunity. The French capitalized on this "sign from God" by using it as a means of converting the natives to Christianity. "You must make a public vow that if God ends this contagion, you will be baptized and keep His commandments.3 Ninety percent of the Native American population died from measles, small pox, influenza, and other diseases introduced by European immigrants. Native Americans had their own way of life steeped in tradition. Although it appeared to be barbaric, it was a way of life modeled after the cruelness of nature. Native American openly practiced cannibalism, torture, and roasted their captives a live. Based upon territorial rights Native American barbarous practices discouraged encroachment upon their lands. Europeans practiced many of the same ways justifying their behavior with Christianity such as torturing and burning alive people accused of witchcraft or heresy (unbelievers).

for more information, see Native American Indian History


1. Moore, Brian, Black Robe, Plume (June 1, 1997), pg. 230

2. Black Robe page 23

3. Black Robe page 229