Columbus: Hero or Villain?

Barbara J. Feldman

In recent years, a variety of groups have argued that Christopher Columbus was responsible for genocide against Native Americans, and semantically, didn’t “discover” anything at all! Check out the following websites for arguments both for and against the celebration of Columbus Day, and then ask yourself the question, “Was Columbus a hero or a villain?”

  • Ayn Rand Center: The Christopher Columbus Controversy4 stars

    This letter-to-the-editor, by Dr. Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, has been published in a variety of newspapers. In it he argues that honoring Christopher Columbus is akin to honoring Western civilization. "It was Columbus' discovery for Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation was founded ? and on which it still rests. The opening of America brought the ideas and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and the thousands of thinkers, writers, and inventors who followed."

  • Bio: Christopher Columbus Biography5 stars

    This two-page Columbus biography includes a section (on page two) about his status as a hero. "Columbus' legacy is a mixed one. He has been credited for opening up the Americas to European colonization as well as blamed for the destruction of the native peoples of the islands he explored." The transfer of ideas, people, plants and diseases between the New and Old World had both benefits and downfalls. The European horse allowed Native Americans to switch from a nomadic lifestyle to a hunting model, but Old World small pox killed millions of Native Americans.

  • Debate.org: Columbus Day5 stars

    In this online debate, Contender won against Instigator (by a vote of 49 to 44) with his defense of the celebration of Columbus Day as a national holiday. You can follow their debate rounds, which include links to articles and YouTube videos, but the debate is over, and voting is no longer allowed. In response to Instigator's charge of genocide, Contender replied, "My opponent again must prove malicious intent in celebrating Columbus Day. Even if a hundred genocides occurred, if he cannot prove harmful intent in celebrating the holiday, then he cannot win the round."

  • History.com: Columbus Controversy5 stars

    "There are three main sources of controversy involving Columbus's interactions with the indigenous people he labeled 'Indians': the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native peoples to Christianity, and the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas." This History.com article concludes that Columbus Day "continues to be an important way for all Americans to learn more about the Age of Exploration and the enormous transformations it provoked."

  • Honorable Mentions

    The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


    Cite This Page

  • Feldman, Barbara. "Columbus: Hero or Villain?." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 11 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/columbus-hero-or-villain/ >.


  • About This Page

  • By . Originally published October 11, 2011. Last modified March 9, 2014.

  • Columbus
    Columbus
    from Beautiful Feet Bks
    (Paperback)
    - Usually ships in 24 hours
    Price: $14.50

    Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504
    Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504
    by Laurence Bergreen
    (Paperback)
    - Usually ships in 24 hours
    Price: $0.33

    The Life of Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals and Other Documents of His Time
    The Life of Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals and Other Documents of...
    by Edward Everett Hale
    (Kindle Edition)