Christopher Columbus: His Story and His Journals
Setting historic narratives straight is very important, not to make Columbus out to be a saint (because he wasn’t necessarily), but because Americans need to be intimately acquainted with the true history of their nation. If Columbus can be discounted for one fault or one lie, so can Washington, Jefferson, Bradford, and many others.
Without understanding the details of our history, what do we have left? We have a nation on the brink of something that resembles the fall of Rome and the rise of communism.
Many people believe that Columbus was a thieving rapist and murderer who plundered the islands for his own gain. But why do they think this? Have they taken even one hour to research these claims? The story of the discovery and colonization of the Carribean Islands and the mainland is like all other historic events: full of individuals with personal ambitions, heroic actions, selfish motives, charitable decisions, and terrible atrocities. No single person was wholly innocent or wholly evil. Entire groups of people cannot be judged by the actions of a few.
In this volume, featuring two books in one, the reader will find that there are many players in Columbus’ story, and that while he was a great explorer, he was not fit to manage colonies. Further, much of the government of the islands was forced out of his control and conducted without his knowledge.
BOOK ONE is The Life of Christopher Columbus From His Own Letters and Journals and Other Documents of His Time by EDWARD EVERETT HALE, originally published in 1892. It was in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage. It is exactly the kind of narrative perfect for readers: facts, straight from Columbus’ own writings, woven in an easy-to-follow narrative.
As a very necessary historic bonus, BOOK TWO is the Original narratives of Chrisopher Columbus, a part of the work
Original Narratives of Early American History, Edited by Edward Gaylord Bourne, PH.D and published in 1906..
Thi edition is incredibly annotated with 700 historical footnotes to verify and further explain the people, places, and events in the discoveries. Multiple sources over 400 years are cited in the journals and letters. Readers will be amazed and overjoyed at the tidbits of information included in these footnotes.
When you read these letters of his, it’s apparent what an educated and talented man Columbus was. Like Lewis and Clark, he identified new and strange animals, plants, minerals, and people groups. He was well-versed in the scriptures and biblical prophecy. He was a mapmaker (in a time when the entire world had not been discovered!). He was bold and courageous. After reading these volumes, a reader won’t help thinking that the 21st century critics of Columbus who topple statues and feign morality would not be able to know or do even a fraction of what Columbus did. Despite some miscalculations and misidentifications, and despite some errors in judgement, he was an amazing person who was born to accomplish great things.
Valiant Navigators: The Age of Exploration
You’ve likely heard of most of the explorers in this volume, whether from your school days or from traveling in the New England area. John Smith, de Champlain, and Bartholomew Gosnold are all familiar men from American history.
But did you ever read their own journals and letters? If not, you’re in for a treat. This book contains eleven narratives from the men who bravely explored the coastline of New England, more specifically that area around Maine.
In between the navigational language you’ll find interesting tidbits of first sightings of land, forest, rivers, mountains, and of course, Indians. While some explorers were still seeking the Northwest Passage to China, others eventually came to found settlements and colonies for England.
I have done some heavy editing of the original letters and journals, simply because they were written in various (and sometimes hilarious) Elizabethan English. The creative spelling and capitalization are enough to discourage most people to put the book down and move on to something modern. But the history in these narratives is too good to put down, so I cleaned up the spelling and did my best to interpret some old words and phrases.
There’s a lot to gain from even the most technical descriptions in this book; just picturing the kind of men it takes to captain a ship, brave the open sea, navigate unknown coasts, and risk interactions with “savages” should give all of us a deeper appreciation for the age of exploration.
Related Knowledge Keepers Books
If you love reading history in chronological order, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Miles Standish, Puritan Captain. It’s the next Knowledge Keepers book after the New England exploration.
You might also find some interesting history of the settlement and growth of the colonies over these centuries as written by John Marshall in book 1 of his biography of George Washington: Prelude to Independence, also by Knowledge Keepers. It is less about Washington, and more about the American colonies from exploration to Revolution.
And finally, the Iroquois Handbook is a detailed encyclopedia of many of the tribes who lived in this region. Their language and customs were learned and written down by a missionary who lived with them for thirty years.