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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29455 times)
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Bob
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« Reply #735 on: August 21, 2007, 04:56:55 PM »

Something can be "discovered" only once.  America was discovered once. When that was and by whom can be the subject of argument....it all depends on the definition and the  criteria regarding the discovery of lands. That's why I asked what the criteria is--that way it'll be easier to decide who fulfilled the criteria. My problem is that I can't remember where I read the criteria, but I remember the book I was reading was quite specific with its list. I know settlement and control had something to do with it--some sort of exploitation (rather than just trade) is also necessary---exploitation with a neutral connotation, rather than a negative one. In the Age of Exploration it was necessary to have such criteria in order to determine what lands belonged to whom. You just couldn't go into an area and plant the cross and declare the land for a given monarch. The land had to be identified as newly found and hitherto belonging to no one--going in and trading, as the Chinese reportedly did does not imply "discovery." They could care less--they weren't there to discover and claim--neither were the Irish or the Norse--all  of them may have visited this continent, but never realized they  stepped on hitherto undiscovered lands--all they wanted was to fish and trade.....

See what I'm driving at?
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weezo
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« Reply #736 on: August 21, 2007, 05:18:48 PM »

Bob you said in part:

'"The land had to be identified as newly found and hitherto belonging to no one--going in and trading, as the Chinese reportedly did does not imply "discovery." '"

Ah, therin is the rub. The land Columbus landed on did indeed "belong" to someone - those who were living there. The Natives had rulers, rudimentary laws and government, and strong traditions including who was entitled to use which lands.

I think the definition you learned was rather euro-centric, in that if it didn't belong to a European power, or a power recognized by the Europeans, it could be "claimed". Of course, it was only by armed force that the "claim" could be enforced as we see in the history of the Europeans in both Americas.

Even by your Euro-centric definition, England could not "claim" Virginia, since it had already been given to the Spanish by a papal edict.

To my mind, if you develop trade and begin, however weakly, colonization or intermarriage with the native people, someone else cannot claim to have "discovered" those lands. They already exist on someone's books and cannot be "re-discovered".

The only people who can be said to have "discovered" the Americas are those who came from Mongolia, Siberia, China, Japan, Australia, the South Sea Islands, Scandanavia, Scotland, etc. etc., etc., who planted their bodies on the land and made it their own. Any other claim of "discovery" is pure semantics, and not suitable to be taught to elementary students.

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caclark
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« Reply #737 on: August 21, 2007, 05:51:24 PM »

weezo, August 21, 2001 at 5:18 PM: "....The only people who can be said to have "discovered" the Americas are those who came from Mongolia, Siberia, China, Japan, Australia, the South Sea Islands, Scandanavia, Scotland, etc. etc., etc., who planted their bodies on the land and made it their own. Any other claim of "discovery" is pure semantics, and not suitable to be taught to elementary students."

Whatever you decide to teach elementary students in the next edition of your reader, be sure to let them know that it’s coming from an “always inquiring mind” as you put it in describing yourself. Otherwise, the little tykes might get the misunderstanding that what you tell them is part of a catechism they’re expected to memorize.

As for me, I’m finished here for today. This whole argument as to whether Columbus did or did not discover America has become downright ludicrous.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2007, 06:09:02 PM by caclark » Logged
thanatopsy
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« Reply #738 on: August 21, 2007, 06:29:55 PM »

thanatopsy:

Because, in part, Menzies is based  on speculation and, in part, the question can never be answered--we can never know why people do not do what they do not do unless they leave the answer themselves, in writing if possible. Lastly, the Chinese navigators didn't really know where Europe was--so they didn't know they were passing up anything----Europe hadn't been "discovered" yet...


They had already dealt with Marco  Polo and others who ventured eastward. They had plenty of dealings with Arabs who were fully familiar with Europe and, if Menzies is correct, were only a handful of miles from European land.  If they were genuinely seeking tribute, they passed up plenty of opportunity to get it.

Therefore, there is only one possible answer as to why they did not make landfall and exact tribute: because, most likely,  that part of the part of the trip never happened.
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Bob
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« Reply #739 on: August 21, 2007, 06:37:57 PM »

The customs and mores of the era I was speaking about had rules and regulations governing discovery. You cannot ascribe today's standards, todays customs and mores to them. History doesn't work that way. I appreciate and understand your position, but disgree with it. Under it, you would hold people responsible for  standards they had no knowledge of. Natives were heathens and pagans and open to what Christians saw as their duty to rule and to convert. The natives of new found lands were not deemed to be the owners, but were deemed to subservient to discoverer nation--to his or her  most Christian majesty.

I'm not being Eurocentric,  Asian lands were acknowledged as owned and governed by natives and heathens....Chiuna, Japan, for instance--even Indian until England subsequently took over.

 Remembering  history there were attempts by the Spanish to exercise their authority in Virginia--but they gave up and allowed English sovereignty---Spain was in decline by then.

My point is, there were discoveries and they were made in that historical construct. We can't change that now that we hold egalitarian view. We can't alter the past----we may be able to re-explain it  and view it from different angles...but to deny  discoverers like Columbus and Magellan their position in history because of modern views is not a good thing in my mind.

Of course the fact that there are different views makes this discussion all the more interesting.
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Bob
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« Reply #740 on: August 21, 2007, 06:50:54 PM »

Thanatopsy
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there is only one possible answer as to why they did not make landfall and exact tribute: because, most likely,  that part of the part of the trip never happened.

I can agree with that----but there's also another possibility---Though theey had full knowledge of Europe through trade contacts, they really didn't know WHERE it was. They possibly didn't know they were so close.

Now, though they had gone to Europe, would that have involved a "discovery" or would we begin to differentiate between settled "Christianity" and Heathen America.

In that day and age it wasn't so much Civilization and Barbarianism, as we state it today, the phrasiology was Christianity vs whatever--Islam, Paganisn, Heathens, etc. It had more of a religious bent to it. Discoveries were always given a religious overtone--the accepted mantra was always "I claim this land in the name of God and his Christian Majesty, etc. etc..."
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Bob
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« Reply #741 on: August 21, 2007, 06:53:41 PM »

Well, we're off to a spirited discussion with some reasonable differences of opinion....let's keep it going....
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weezo
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« Reply #742 on: August 21, 2007, 08:03:58 PM »

Bob,

I see what you are driving at. But I do not agree that Europe gets to define what a "discovery" is or isn't especially in light of evidence that the given European wasn't the first to arrive at the overall body of land that he is credited with "discovering". He never even got to the mainland.

I'd have to look at where, perhaps in the last chapter, Menzies quotes notes from Columbus' explorations of the Carribbean islands as containing a comment that they found "Natives" speaking "perfect Portuguese" on one of the islands. I can look in the book and find the exact page, since I don't remember exactly where I saw it. I noted that on my first reading. If I remember correctly, Menzies put that in quotes, so I assume (knowing what that does to you and me), that he did not speculate on that, but wrote what can be checked in the records. If this is indeed in his notes, I wonder why the Portuguese were not given credit for "discovering" America? Was it because Spain was rising in power and Portugal was begining to go down, or am I off by a century in who rose and who fell?

Yes, it is wonderful to have a reasoned difference of opinion on a history book. It is a delight to be a part of this exchange of observations on a contentious book - much better than merely reading a web blog on someone's opinion of the book and then never reading it!


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Bob
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« Reply #743 on: August 21, 2007, 09:29:08 PM »

I can't stay on long--gottta get up early tomorrow.... anyhow the quotes you are looking for (in the first edition of the book) are around page 359, et seq.,  Chapter 17:  COLONIZING THE NEW WORLD.  I'll  read them tomorrow. They have to do with Puerto Rico
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #744 on: August 21, 2007, 10:42:57 PM »

```They possibly didn't know they were so close.```

Not to beat a dead and rotting horse here (oops, sorry for the bad image), but  the land mass they supposedly traversed was well over 5000 miles before they reached Vladivostok.  It would take the most remarkable coincidence (and the most gigantic leap of faith for one to believe it) for them to have missed all that land. They had to have encountered birds which signalled the fact that land was nearby.  Or they would likely have met Vikings or be seen by others, especially since they supposedly had so many huge ships in their armada.

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« Reply #745 on: August 21, 2007, 10:47:38 PM »

```Menzies quotes notes from Columbus' explorations of the Carribbean islands as containing a comment that they found "Natives" speaking "perfect Portuguese" on one of the islands. ```

A reference to Puerto Rico on p 404 et seq of Menzies.
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« Reply #746 on: August 22, 2007, 12:40:00 AM »

Ludicrous indeed.  How can one "discover" a land that is already inhabited. The only claim that Columbus could make was in the name of the Holy Roman Church, since the people of this new continent were considered heathen and therefor not worthy of land claims.  As such they were enslaved and treated like cattle. 

Mankind did not evolve on the American continents, they came.  As Farley Mowat pointed out in The Farfarers, the peoples of this world were far from sedentary, they were contantly migrating in search of new lands to hunt and gather and to cultivate.  He gives a pretty compelling portrait of the Kelts overrunning Europe 2500-3000 years ago, long before the Huns.  British Island cultures had developed sea-worthy crafts to hunt walruses as far north as Iceland.  The Hopi of New Mexico believe they came to America by sea, not a land bridge, and archeological and linguistic evidence points to a link with the Joman culture of ancient Japan.

It may be good marketing to continue to promote the idea that Columbus discovered America, because his was one of the first voyages to provide an extensive record of his "voyage of discovery," it is rather ludicrous to think of him as a pioneer, especially given his many delusions, well noted in his journals, that have been completely left out of elementary history primers.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #747 on: August 22, 2007, 04:42:16 AM »

I'm not being Eurocentric,  Asian lands were acknowledged as owned and governed by natives and heathens....Chiuna, Japan, for instance--even Indian until England subsequently took over.

Asian lands were acknowledged as owned by the Chinese and Japanese because Europeans didn't yet have the capacity to wage war against them and win.  The Native Americans proved a much more easy foe, once it was discovered how well germ warfare worked.  Europeans were essentially able to overrun America.  There was nothing holy about it, except for a few valiant missionaries who honestly attempted to bring Christianity to the "New World."

For too long conventional history has perpetuated the myth that somehow these early explorers (Columbus, Vespucci, Cortez, Drake et al.) had some kind of missionary purpose, that they saw their role in America as a benevolent one, but the actual record is far from the case.  They were claiming land, mineral and agricultural resources in the name of the Catholic Church, which was looking to replenish its coffers.  Taylor shows in the early chapters of American Colonies how relatively poor Europe was at the time, especially in comparison to the Asian and Muslim world, and it desperately wanted to make up for the shortfall.  He also notes how the English and Dutch established what were essentially pirate colonies, preying on Spanish ships, before they discovered the value of tobaccco and furs.  I really don't think Europeans thought all that differently back then, they were just less encumbered by international treaties to honor the rights of indigenous people.
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« Reply #748 on: August 22, 2007, 07:59:20 AM »

Asian lands were acknowledged as owned by the Chinese and Japanese because Europeans didn't yet have the capacity to wage war against them and win.  The Native Americans proved a much more easy foe, once it was discovered how well germ warfare worked.  Europeans were essentially able to overrun America.  There was nothing holy about it, except for a few valiant missionaries who honestly attempted to bring Christianity to the "New World."

For too long conventional history has perpetuated the myth that somehow these early explorers (Columbus, Vespucci, Cortez, Drake et al.) had some kind of missionary purpose, that they saw their role in America as a benevolent one, but the actual record is far from the case.  They were claiming land, mineral and agricultural resources in the name of the Catholic Church, which was looking to replenish its coffers.  Taylor shows in the early chapters of American Colonies how relatively poor Europe was at the time, especially in comparison to the Asian and Muslim world, and it desperately wanted to make up for the shortfall.  He also notes how the English and Dutch established what were essentially pirate colonies, preying on Spanish ships, before they discovered the value of tobaccco and furs.  I really don't think Europeans thought all that differently back then, they were just less encumbered by international treaties to honor the rights of indigenous people.
What myth are you perpetuating? It may be good marketing to continue to promote the idea, but intentionality in "germ warfare" in N.A. was limited to one infamous case of distribution of smallpox-infected blankets; more primitive methods, time-tested within Europe, sufficed for those bent on extirpation of the natives, even though disease was more effective.

(OTOH one can argue that the counter-weapons were syphilis & tobacco ...)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 08:01:38 AM by nnyhav » Logged
Dzimas
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« Reply #749 on: August 22, 2007, 08:10:00 AM »

It was discovered relatively quickly how susceptible the native Americans were to European diseases, so the mere presence of European people and livestock pretty much ensured that the native population would die out eventually. Taylor quoted statements made by the early American settlers in regard to how quickly their diseases spread through the Native American villages, and how effective a weapon this was proving to be.  The small-pox blankets were simply one of the more nefarious recorded examples of inflicting diseases upon the native people. 

Personally, I don't think it is perfectly fine to hold the early settlers to human rights standards, since there were plenty of cases of missionaries like de Casas pointing out the abuses that were occurring at the time.  Taylor noted how appalled the British crown was when it heard of some of the massacres taking place in the colonies, but they had little control over the colonists in such matters.
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