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Social Studies Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus: Hero or Villain?


Aim: How can Christopher Columbus be viewed as
a hero? How can he be viewed as a villain?
DO NOW:
Explain one positive effect and one negative
effect the Columbian Exchange had on the
Old and New Worlds. Explain your answer
using relevant details and your knowledge of
Social Studies! (2-3 sentences)

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How should we view Columbus today?

©LaurenWebb2014
Christopher Columbus…A Hero or a Villain?
Christopher Columbus is credited with making one of the most
important discoveries in American history. Most Americans
admire his courage and perseverance. Many consider him an
American hero. However, in the past several years, other voices
have been telling their point of view of Columbus and his
explorations. They see him as a villain or an evil man greedy for
gold and cruel in his treatment of the Native Americans he
encountered.

Many countries in the New World today celebrate the


anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas, which
occurred on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday. The event is
celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States. Actual
observance varies in different parts of the United States,
ranging from large-scale parades and events to complete non-
observance. Most states celebrate Columbus Day as an official
state holiday, though many mark it as a “Day of Observance” or
“Recognition” and three do not recognize it at all. Most states
(including states where it is not a legal holiday) close schools and
other state services, while others operate as normal. New York
City boasts it has the largest Columbus Day parade every year!

What do you think? Analyze the reading passages on the next


page and make your own assessment about Christopher
Columbus. Get ready to debate and explain your views!

©LaurenWebb2014
Directions: As you’re reading about Christopher Columbus, highlight all the positive things that Columbus did
for the Old and New Worlds. Underline all the negative effects Columbus had on the Old and New Worlds.

Several times Christopher Columbus and his ships were caught in windless seas. More than once the
crew was ready to mutiny, or overthrow if Columbus did not turn back to Spain. Columbus
convinced his crew to remain loyal. He brought new foods to Europe. The potato, in particular,
became a vital food in some parts of Europe. It fed millions of people and led to a major rise in
Europe’s population. Columbus brought pigs, cattle, and horses to the New World.

Columbus expressed hope that the Native American Indian people might be made worshipers of
Jesus Christ. But on his first voyage, Columbus brought no priests to convert anyone he might find.
Columbus mentioned gold in his writing nearly 150 times in the two months he spent sailing around
the Caribbean. He demanded that each adult Taino (Native American) bring in gold every 3
months. There was little gold on the island, so most of them came to Columbus empty handed. In
response, Columbus cut off their hands. On his second voyage, Columbus sent 550 natives back to
Spain to be sold into slavery. At least 200 of them died on the way across the ocean.

In time, the knowledge Columbus brought back from the Americas changed European views of the
world. People realized that Columbus had found continents no one had known about before.
Europeans were eager to see if these continents could make them rich. For centuries, Europeans
had seen the ocean as a barrier. With one voyage, Columbus had changed all of that. Instead of a
barrier, the Atlantic Ocean became a bridge that connected Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Columbus’ explorations began an era of great wealth and power for Spain.

©LaurenWebb2014
Details showing Columbus as a Hero Details showing Columbus as a Villain

©LaurenWebb2014
My View on Columbus is that he is a
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Evidence/Reasons I believe this: Evidence/Reasons the other side will say/use in their argument:

Our Closing Argument:


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©LaurenWebb2014
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Applying
Argue and explain your answers to the questions below using relevant details
from today’s lesson and your knowledge of Social Studies.
{2-3 sentences each}

Overall, I believe Christopher Columbus was a (hero/villain) because:


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We (should/should not) celebrate Columbus Day because:


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©LaurenWebb2014