The Life of Columbus; in his own words eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Life of Columbus; in his own words.

Columbus says that he begged before his departure that they would send some one at his expense to take command, and yet again a subject with letters, for he says bitterly that he has such a singular reputation that if he “were building churches and hospitals they would say they were cells for stolen goods.”

Then Bobadilla came to Santo Domingo while Columbus was at La Vega and the Adelantado at Jaragua.  “The second day of his arrival he declared himself governor, created magistrates, made offices, published grants for gold and tithes, and everything else for a term of twenty years.”  He said he had come to pay the people, and declared he would send Columbus home in irons.  Columbus was away.  Letters with favors were sent to others, but none to him.  Columbus resorted to methods to gain time so that their Highnesses could understand the state of things.  But he was constantly maligned and persecuted by those who were jealous of him.  He says: 

“I think that you will remember that when the tempest threw me into the port of Lisbon, after having lost my sails, I was accused of having the intention to give India to that country.  Afterwards their Highnesses knew to the contrary.  Although I know but little, I cannot conceive that any one would suppose me so stupid as not to know that though India might belong to me, yet I could not keep it without the help of a prince.”

Columbus complains that he has been judged as a governor who has been sent to a peaceful, well-regulated province.  He says, “I ought to be judged as a captain sent from Spain to the Indies to conquer a warlike people, whose custom and religion are all opposed to ours, where the people live in the mountains without regular houses for themselves, and where, by the will of God, I have placed under the rule of the king and queen another world, and by which Spain, which calls itself poor, is today the richest empire.  I ought to be judged as a captain who for many years bears arms incessantly.

“I know well that the errors that I have committed have not been with bad intentions, and I think that their Highnesses will believe what I say; but I know and see that they use pity for those who work against them.”

“If, nevertheless, their Highnesses order that another shall judge me, which I hope will not be, and this ought to be on an examination made in India, I humbly beg of them to send there two conscientious and respectable people, at my expense, which may know easily that one finds five marcs of gold in four hours.  However that may be, it is very necessary that they should go there.”


It would have been so natural to give the name of Columbus to the new world which he gave to Castile and Leon, that much wonder has been expressed that America was not called Columbia, and many efforts have been made to give to the continent this name.  The District of Columbia was so named at a time when American writers of poetry, were determined that “Columbia” should be the name of the continent.  The ship Columbia, from which the great river of the West takes that name, had received this name under the same circumstances about the same time.  The city of Columbia, which is the capital of South Carolina, was named with the same wish to do justice to the great navigator.

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The Life of Columbus; in his own words from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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