Christopher Columbus, from The Journal of Christopher Columbus (1492)
This document is excerpted from the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492. The meaning of this
voyage is highly contested. On the one hand, it is witness to the tremendous vitality of late Medieval
and Early Modern Europe. On the other hand, the direct result of this and later voyages was the
virtual extermination, by ill treatment and disease, of the vast majority of the native inhabitants and
the enormous growth of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It might not be fair to blame Columbus for all
of the destructive policies that followed his voyages, but because all sides treat him as a symbol, the
issue cannot be avoided.
Hereupon I left the city of Granada, on Saturday, the twelfth day of May, 1492, and proceeded to Palos, a
seaport, where I armed three vessels, very fit for such an enterprise, and having provided myself with
abundance of stores and seamen, I set sail from the port, on Friday, the third of August, half an hour before
sunrise, and steered for the Canary Islands of your Highnesses which are in the said ocean, thence to take my
departure and proceed till I arrived at the Indies, and perform the embassy of your Highnesses to the Princes
there, and discharge the orders given me. For this purpose I determined to keep an account of the voyage,
and to write down punctually every thing we performed or saw from day to day, as will hereafter appear.
Moreover, Sovereign Princes, besides describing every night the occurrences of the day, and every day those