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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29302 times)
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johnr60
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« Reply #885 on: August 29, 2007, 01:39:46 PM »

Dzimas:

We're going a bit astray here, but my (minor) point was that until fairly recently science and religion were generated from the same source.  Columbus's "religious beliefs" unnecessarily points to an issue that just didn't exist.

The numbers of Erastosthenes are a prime example.

This paraphrased from an article by C. W. Wilson. I'll find the link if somebody wants it. 

There are precisely 216,000 stade in the polar circumference of the earth. That happens to be sixty times sixty times sixty. Or 360 times sixty. It is easy to see at a glance that each degree of the earth's circumference must be sixty stades long. A degree is made up of sixty minutes, so each minute is one stade long. A minute is made up of sixty seconds, so each second is a sixtieth of a Greek stade. And this happens to be a hundred Greek feet.  This is staggering, for the classical Greeks of Plato's time did not know the size of the earth. Yet their measuring system proves that they took their stade from some civilization that did.

Further here:

http://theabysmal.wordpress.com/?s=campbell

search "her names"

In other words Eratosthenes uses these numbers because he believes in a what we call a mythological tradition and that tradition is repeated in Genesis, the Sumerian King List, India, Iceland, the Mayans and the ball courts of Mexico. 

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Bob
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« Reply #886 on: August 29, 2007, 04:21:21 PM »

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Since when did discovery imply knowing where you are? I don't grasp that logic at all. It's like saying that if you stumble onto something on your way to somewhere but don’t know exactly what it is you’ve turned up, then you haven’t really discovered anything. That's just silly.

At first glance it does sound silly, but there is a logic to it. Voyagers who stumble on lands and then leave those lands without knowing they  may have "discovered" something are generally not given credit by geographers, explorers or historians. I think the closest situation which might be classified as a pre-Columbian discovery was the Viking experience. But that's a whole other discussion.

I'm sure that sometime prior to Franklin "discovering" the connection between lightening and electricity, more than one person had already done so. But Franklin gets the credit--why? Because he recognized the importance of the discovery and passed that knowledge on to the general public. So knowledge of what you have is an important factor--not the only one, but an important one. Things are discovered every day--and ignored because the guy doesn't know what he has. He walks away from it. Clolumbus didn't walk away from it, of course...but what, after all, did he discover? A bunch of islands, part of Central America, and the mouth of the Orinoco? I say it's enough to give him credit--but others maintain its not---all of which makes for an interesting discussion.

I respect your opinion and I'm quite sure others do--but I'll hold to it for now.
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caclark
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« Reply #887 on: August 29, 2007, 05:45:11 PM »

Bob, August 29, 2007 at 4:21 PM: "....Voyagers who stumble on lands and then leave those lands without knowing they  may have "discovered" something are generally not given credit by geographers, explorers or historians."

Bob,

I don't fundamentally disagree with that. But so what if Columbus mistakenly thought he had reached islands off the coast of India. Wrong though he was, it was no small feat. It would be surpassed by others, as Dzimas rightly argues. But would any of those who followed have even made their own journeys had it not been for Columbus?

I used the tip of the iceberg metaphor because any discovery is just a start no matter how meager it may appear in hindsight. I can't take anything away from Columbus simply because he didn’t make land on both North America and South America on that first voyage, came to realize that this was someplace other than Asia, and then proceeded to chart out coastlines. All that would have been more than one should reasonably expect. He accomplished enough as it was.

What stands out in this discussion are some of the reasons given for why Columbus’ first voyage should not qualify as a discovery; he wasn’t the first (no argument there from me or anyone else on that), he didn’t settle here, he didn’t know where he was, the Chinese may or may not have preceded him by 71 years, and so on. What comes through loudest and clearest in all these arguments is that the idea that Columbus discovered America is still a powerful idea, so powerful in fact that some people will resort to some pretty desperate reasoning in order to annihilate it.
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weezo
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« Reply #888 on: August 29, 2007, 06:06:16 PM »

Clark,

Two earlier discoveries of American you are forgetting, are the Albans in about 1000 AD, who sailed first to Iceland to escape the Norsemen, then to Greenland, both east and west coasts, and then to Laborador and eventually to Newfoundland. The Albans, although trying to stay out of the way of the Norsemen, kept up their trade in Valuta, seal skins and blubber and traded with Europe, sailing south of Greenland to avoid detection. There is perhaps evidence of regular crossings of the North Atlantic between Laborador and Britain which included priests to perform marriages and baptisms. Such records would be in the vatican.

In addition, there is the evidence that Columbus found Portuguese speaking "natives" on Puerto Rico.

It seems to me that those who defend the "discoveryness" of Columbus are grabbing at straws in semantics to preserve the status of their "hero". Why should the "discovery" of America be treated differently from the "discovery" of Europe?

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Bob
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« Reply #889 on: August 29, 2007, 07:26:33 PM »

caclark: I quite agree. You are repeating much of my position on the matter, ie., "it was no small feat. It would be surpassed by others, as Dzimas rightly argues. But would any of those who followed have even made their own journeys had it not been for Columbus?"

Although I can respect the other views, I still hold  the Columbian position. To cite yet another historian on the subject, Commager says this in his classic THE GROWTH OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC: "Yet Columbus was the efffective discoverer of America for Europe, because he was the first to do anything with it." (Commager, Vol I page 16) He points out that the enterprise "was his very own, suggested by no previous information, produced by no economic forces."

"Columbus personally led the first colony to the New World in 1493;he discovered the South American continent in 1498; and he obtained the first definite news of the Pacific Ocean. The history of the Americas stems from his first four voyages."  (Commager, Vol I at page 16)

That there are viewpoints which disagree with the above there is no doubt---but I hold with  the traditonal view that Columbus should be given due credit. As I presented in my other posts, at the very least he discovered a bunch of islands, discovered a piece of Central America and discovered the mouth of the Orinoco. In that respect Columbus is given the minimum due him. The only difficulty I have is that he had no knowledge of the reality of what he had found---and I see that as an important part of geographical discovery.

My other point is what you point out----that everybody followed Columbus---without him the Age of Exploration might have been seriously delayed. No Columbus, no Vespucci. If Columbus discovered nothing, why were all these guys sailing West. I submit they were doing so because they, if not Columbus, realized a new world had been found, or at least a new route to Asia.

I can also go along with Armesto's version that the dscovery of America was a process....not an event.
 
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thanatopsy
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« Reply #890 on: August 29, 2007, 11:45:59 PM »

~~ there is the evidence that Columbus found Portuguese speaking "natives" on Puerto Rico. ~~


Reference to page 403 et seq.

I am troubled by this claim because it quotes Columbus as referring to Borinquen as Porto Rico. Historically, it is well established that he ''Christened'' his newly discovered {sic} island as La Isla de San Juan Bautista.  Columbus died in 1506. Juan Ponce de Leon became governor in 1509 and it was he who re-named it Puerto Rico.

Porto Rico is an Anglicized rendition of the new name made by the British. Therefore, Columbus could not have made any reference to ''Porto Rico'' as the name was never used during his lifetime.

BTW, the ''evidence'' that Colón  ''found'' natives who spoke Lusitanian in Borinquen was made by Portuguese historical accounts of las Casas' memoirs, not by Spanish historians.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #891 on: August 30, 2007, 12:47:25 AM »

This is staggering, for the classical Greeks of Plato's time did not know the size of the earth. Yet their measuring system proves that they took their stade from some civilization that did.

In other words Eratosthenes uses these numbers because he believes in a what we call a mythological tradition and that tradition is repeated in Genesis, the Sumerian King List, India, Iceland, the Mayans and the ball courts of Mexico. 

I don't quite see the connection.  As the article suggests, Eratosthenes worked out the circumference of the earty by correctly hypothesizing that if he established an arc, he could determine the diameter of the sphere that he imagined earth to be.  I'm not sure what are the origins of Geometry, probably the Egyptian or the Babylonian.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #892 on: August 30, 2007, 01:04:02 AM »

The Vikings knew they had discovered a new land, Vinland, and there is evidence of early settlements,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinland

To read Mowat, he thinks to the Albans had settlements in what is now Canada as well.  How does this differ from Columbus setting up a beach head on Hispaniola, other than the climate was probably better.
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Bob
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« Reply #893 on: August 30, 2007, 01:47:17 AM »

Columbus stayed and Europe followed; the Norsemen left and Europe didn't follow. 

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Dzimas
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« Reply #894 on: August 30, 2007, 02:59:51 AM »

The Norse stayed, they just didn't stay long enough it seems, Bob.  It is kind of like the battle over the oldest city in Florida.  Pensacola predates St. Augustine as a settlement, but it was abandoned shortly after, and St. Augustine was able to lay claim to the title.  Anyway, it really doesn't matter from a native American perspective, since they were here first and have stayed, but their claim to the land was overruled by the Catholic church and the various nation-states that chose to subdivide America.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #895 on: August 30, 2007, 03:09:17 AM »

Since when did discovery imply knowing where you are? I don't grasp that logic at all. It's like saying that if you stumble onto something on your way to somewhere but don’t know exactly what it is you’ve turned up, then you haven’t really discovered anything. That's just silly. Many initial discoveries are accidental and all of them represent just the tip of a much larger iceberg. When Ben Franklin flew a kite and got a jolt, that didn't teach him how to build a hydroelectric power plant. But the experiment did seem to corroborate his long held theory that lightening was in fact electricity.

Columbus didn't set out to discover a new world. He was just seeking a shorter trade route to Asia than the route then in use. Toward that goal, he failed miserably. But along the way, he encountered something unexpected and it proved to be a watershed event in human history. That's why I find so irrational and fanatical the resistance to calling it a discovery.

The fundamental question remains, how can you discover a land that is already settled, being cultivated by a wide variety of people, and have extensive trade routes throughout the continents?  Not to mention, civilizations in the Aztecs, Incans, Mayans, and Mississippi mound builders that far exceeded the level of construction and sanitation found in Europe at the time.  The only thing Columbus discovered was that the Europeans seemed to have no idea two continents lay between them and China.  But, I guess one can't revel in one own's ignorance, referring to the Europeans.
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weezo
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« Reply #896 on: August 30, 2007, 07:58:10 AM »

I can certainly understand the Europeans making a fuss over Columbus and his discoveries, although I think in so doing, they are overlooking the achievements of the Portuguese who were more secretive about their "discoveries" for reasons of their own. But, I do not understand why Americans, who should have greater knowledge of the others who preceeded Columbus, fauning over a man who contributions to the opening of the Americas to exploitation by the Europeans destroyed the original American civilizations and societies.

Earlier this year, when I wrote my Pocahontas story for children, I was discussing the issues on the Virginia History list and announced my intent to write the story from the Native perspective. One of the correspondents on that list was aghast that I would want to show the Natives in a "good light" when there was European "evidence" that they were cannibals and had the audacity to kill the European interlopers to their lands. In the story, I took a cue from Helen Roundtree and made mention of the lack of cleanliness among the settlers and the daily bathing rituals of the Natives. I'm sure that aghast correspondent skipped reading the finished story. Rather live in ignorance than upset one's preconceptions.
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Dzimas
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« Reply #897 on: August 30, 2007, 10:01:08 AM »

Weezo, the Portuguese were every bit as European as the Spanish and Italians.  I don't see why it would matter from your point of view, who reached America, the Portuguese or the Spanish.  As I said before, there really wouldn't have been any reasons to keep such "discoveries" secret, so my guess is the Portuguese never got any further West than the Azores.  They were busy setting up colonies along the African and Indian coasts, setting up the nefarious slave trade among other lucrative ventures.  The Portuguese also turned down Columbus' initial request for a fleet, as did the Dutch.  It was only after these failed bids that he appealled to the royalty of Spain, and managed to get a small fleet.

It would be interesting to investigate why Washington Irving felt so impelled to rescure Christopher Columbus from the dustbin of history, and why Americans have chosen to honor Columbus with so many place names.  I always liked the commercial where the look out spots land and cries out, I think I see Ohio, Columbus, to which Columbus says that's Columbus, Ohio.  But, as you can see by clark's posts, there are those who feel it important to honor Columbus.


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weezo
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« Reply #898 on: August 30, 2007, 10:21:01 AM »

Dzimas,

I am making two points - one, that the Europeans were rather high-handed in proclaiming "discovery" of that which was known to others, and that Columbus, himself, was a egoist in "proclaiming" the new lands for Spain when he was fully aware that the Portuguese had preceded him.

It was highly presumptious of Europeans to think they could plant and flag and make a declaration in a foreign language that was supposed to subjugate the peoples of the land they invaded. Whatever were they thinking anyway?

In a sense, it reminds of the tv coverage of the fall of Baghdad when some unthinking Americans erected an American flag instead of planting the Iraqi flag. It was certainly an incident that planted the idea in the Iraqi minds that they had been "invaded", which persists to this day.

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« Reply #899 on: August 30, 2007, 11:05:12 AM »

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It was highly presumptious of Europeans to think they could plant and flag and make a declaration in a foreign language that was supposed to subjugate the peoples of the land they invaded. Whatever were they thinking anyway?

I'm not sure how it was presumptious at all.  Did they not conquer the land and subjugate those people?

I don't see how its any different from the Aztecs conquering all their neighboring states and subjugating those people.
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