The first chapter “Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress” of Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of The United States was quite eye opening. Similar to many people, many things I learned about American history at a young age were romanticized. Columbus was the good guy who discovered new land, we got a day off from school to celebrate him, and there was even a catchy phrase to remember the date of his journey (“Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred ninety-two”). We learned about the Pilgrims and Indians in Massachusetts and that they shared a meal together, and for that we celebrate Thanksgiving, while half the class dressed up as Pilgrims and the other half as Indians. While giving us catchy songs to sing and costumes covered in feathers, the education system failed to mention the horrors of what actually occurred. For a while now I have known that these events were always what they seemed, but still hadn’t been actually taught about any of it. To have fun celebrations of American History, children are taught in the incorrect, sugar coated version of it. Reading this chapter gave intense detail of what actually occurred when Columbus went on his journeys.
Something I found interesting was that in many of Columbus’s journal entries he writes about the horrific things he did. Columbus wrote, “They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want… I took some of the natives by force…”(Zinn, 1-2). While he admits and discusses all of his wrongdoings, children and people of all ages are still shielded from this information and are given a false sense of what actually happened and who he actually was. This leads me to wonder what other parts of history the citizens of our country are being brainwashed to believe and if it will ever be uncovered.