The Destruction of the Indies and the Middle Passage Essay

Bartolomé de las Casas was one of the first advocates of Indian rights in the New World. A priest and historiographer of his twenty-four hours. responsible for continuing Christopher Columbus’s diaries. de las Casas besides wrote plants such as The Devastation of the Indies and Apologetic History of the Indies. Labeled a heretic and treasonist. de las Casas documented the war on the Indians by the Spaniards and argued the Indians’ cause. at great personal hazard. before the Spanish tribunal. The undermentioned history gives a sympathetic description of the indigens. outlines the Spanish lecherousness for gold. and inside informations a about incredible anguish of several Indians. Beginning: From The Devastation of the Indies by Bartolomé de las Casas. English Translation Copyright © 1974 by The Crossroad Publishing Company. Reprinted by permission of The Crossroad Publishing Company.

And of all the infinite existence of humanity. these people are the most transparent. the most barren of evil and fraudulence. the most obedient and faithful to their native Masterss and to the Spanish Christians whom they serve. They are by nature the most low. patient. and peace-loving. keeping no scores. free from imbroglios. neither excitable nor quarrelsome. These people are the most barren of resentments. hates. or desire for retribution of any people in the universe. And because they are so weak and obliging. they are less able to digest heavy labour and shortly dice of no affair what malady. The boies of Lords among us. brought up in the enjoyments of life’s polishs. are no more delicate than are these Indians. even those among them who are of the lowest rank of labourers. They are besides hapless people. for they non merely possess little but have no desire to possess worldly goods. For this ground they are non chesty. embittered. or greedy. Their meals are such that the nutrient of the sanctum male parents in the desert can barely be more penurious. pantie. and hapless.

As to their frock. they are by and large naked. with merely their pudenda covered slightly. And when they cover their shoulders it is with a square fabric no more than two varas in size. They have no beds. but sleep on a sort of matting or else in a sort of suspended cyberspace called hamacas. They are really clean in their individuals. with qui vive. intelligent heads. docile and unfastened to doctrine. really disposed to have our holy Catholic religion. to be endowed with virtuous imposts. and to act in a reverent manner. And one time they begin to hear the newss of the Faith. they are so repetitive on cognizing more and on taking the sacraments of the Church and on detecting the Godhead cult that. genuinely. the missionaries who are here need to be endowed by God with great forbearance in order to get by with such avidity.

Some of the secular Spaniards who have been here for many old ages say that the goodness of the Indians is undeniable and that if this talented people could be brought to cognize the one true God they would be the most fortunate people in the world… . The common ways chiefly employed by the Spaniards who call themselves Christian and who have gone at that place to uproot those pathetic states and pass over them off the Earth is by unjustly engaging cruel and bloody wars. Then. when they have slain all those who fought for their lives or to get away the anguishs they would hold to digest. that is to state. when they have slain all the native swayers and immature work forces ( since the Spaniards normally spare merely the adult females and kids. who are subjected to the hardest and bitterest servitude of all time suffered by adult male or animal ) . they enslave any subsisters. With these infernal methods of dictatorship they debase and weaken countless

Numberss of those pathetic Indian states. Their ground for killing and destructing such an infinite figure of psyches is that the Christians have an ultimate purpose. which is to get gold. and to swell themselves with wealths in a really brief clip and therefore rise to a high estate disproportionate to their virtues. It should be kept in head that their insatiate greed and aspiration. the greatest of all time seen in the universe. is the cause of their villainousnesss. And besides. those lands are so rich and felicitous. the native peoples so mild and patient. so easy to subject. that our Spaniards have no more consideration for them than animals. And I say this from my ain cognition of the Acts of the Apostless I witnessed. But I should non state “than beasts” for. thanks be to God. they have treated animals with some regard ; I should state alternatively similar body waste on the public squares… . I one time saw this. when there were four or five Indian Lords lashed on grids and combustion ; I seem even to remember that there were two or three braces of grids where others were firing. and because they uttered such loud shrieks that they disturbed the Spanish captain’s slumber. he ordered them to be strangled.

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And the constable. who was worse than an executioner. did non desire to obey that order ( and I know the name of that constable and cognize his relations in Seville ) . but alternatively put a stick over the victims’ linguas. so they could non do a sound. and he stirred up the fire. but non excessively much. so that they roasted easy. as he liked. I saw all these things I have described. and infinite others. And because all the people who could make so fled to the mountains to get away these inhuman. ruthless. and fierce Acts of the Apostless. the Spanish captains. enemies of the human race. pursued them with the ferocious Canis familiariss they kept which attacked the Indians. rupturing them to pieces and devouring them. And because on few and far between occasions. the Indians justifiably killed some Christians. the Spaniards made a regulation among themselves that for every Christian slain by the Indians. they would murder a 100 Indians… .

Among the notable indignations they committed was the 1 they perpetrated against a cazique. a really of import baronial. by name Hatuey. who had come to Cuba from Hispaniola with many of his people. to fly the catastrophes and cold Acts of the Apostless of the Christians. When he was told by certain Indians that the Christians were now coming to Cuba. he assembled as many of his followings as he could and said this to them: “Now you must cognize that they are stating the Christians are coming here. and you know by experience how they put So and So and So and So. and other Lords to an terminal. And now they are coming from Haiti ( which is Hispaniola ) to make the same here. Do you cognize why they do this? ” The Indians replied: “We do non cognize. But it may be that they are by nature wicked and cruel. “

And he told them: “No. they do non move merely because of that. but because they have a God they greatly worship and they want us to idolize that God. and that is why they struggle with us and capable us and kill us. “… He had a basket full of gold and gems and he said: “You see their God here. the God of the Christians. If you agree to it. allow us dance for this God. who knows. it may delight the God of the Christians and so they will make us no injury. ” And his followings said. all together. “Yes. that is good. that is good! ” And they danced round the basket of gold until they fell down exhausted. Then their head. the cazique Hatuey. said to them: “See here. if we keep this basket of gold they will take it from us and will stop up by killing us. So allow us project away the basket into the river. “

They all agreed to make this. and they flung the basket of gold into the river that was nearby. This cazique. Hatuey. was invariably flying before the Christians from the clip they arrived on the island of Cuba. since he knew them and of what they were capable. Now and so they encountered him and he defended himself. but they eventually killed him. And they did this for the exclusive ground that he had fled from those cruel and wicked Christians and had defended himself against them. And when they had captured him and as many of his followings as they could. they burned them all at the interest. When tied to the interest. the cazique Hatuey was told by a Franciscan mendicant who was present. an ingenuous rogue. something about the God of the Christians and of the articles of the Faith.

And he was told what he could make in the brief clip that remained to him. in order to be saved and travel to Heaven. The cazique. who had ne’er heard any of this before. and was told he would travel to Inferno where if he did non follow the Christian Faith. he would endure ageless torture. asked the Franciscan mendicant if Christians all went to Heaven. When told that they did he said he would prefer to travel to Hell. Such is the celebrity and award that God and our Faith have earned through the Christians who have gone out to the Indies.

“The Middle Passage” . from Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative

This history of the “middle passage” comes from one of the first Hagiographas by an ex-slave and the conceiver of the slave narrative. Equiano was born in Nigeria and was kidnapped into bondage at the age of 11. After a clip in the West Indies. he was sold to a Virginia plantation owner before going the slave of a merchandiser. Old ages subsequently he was able to purchase his freedom and at the age of 44. he wrote “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. or Gustavus Vassa. The African. Written by Himself. ” Equiano became an emancipationist and made the expedition to settle the settlement of ex-slaves at Sierra Leone.

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. . . The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the seashore was the sea. and a slave ship. which was so siting at ground tackle. and waiting for its lading. These filled me with amazement. which was shortly converted into panic when I was carried on board. I was instantly handled and tossed up to see if I were sound by some of the crew ; and I was now persuaded that I had gotten into a universe of bad liquors. and that they were traveling to kill me. Their skin colors excessively differing so much from ours. their long hair. and the linguistic communication they spoke. ( which was really different from any I had of all time heard ) united to corroborate me in this belief. Indeed such were the horrors of my positions and frights at the minute. that. if 10 thousand universes had been my ain. I would hold freely parted with them all to hold exchanged my status with that of the meanest slave in my ain state.

When I looked round the ship excessively and saw a big furnace of Cu boiling. and a battalion of black people of every description chained together. every one of their visages showing dejection and sorrow. I no longer doubted of my destiny ; and. rather overpowered with horror and anguish. I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a small I found some black people about me. who I believe were some of those who brought me on board. and had been having their wage ; they talked to me in order to hearten me. but all in vain. I asked them if we were non to be eaten by those white work forces with atrocious expressions. ruddy faces. and loose hair.

They told me I was non ; and one of the crew brought me a little part of spiritous spirits in a wine glass ; but. being afraid of him. I would non take it out of his manus. One of the inkinesss therefore took it from him and gave it to me. and I took a small down my roof of the mouth. which. alternatively of resuscitating me. as they thought it would. threw me into the greatest alarm at the unusual feeling it produced. holding ne’er tasted any such spirits before. Soon after this the inkinesss who brought me on board went off. and left me abandoned to desperation. I now saw myself deprived of all opportunity of returning to my native state or even the least glance of hope of deriving the shore. which I now considered as friendly ; and I even wished for my former bondage in penchant to my present state of affairs. which was filled with horrors of every sort. still heightened by my ignorance of what I was to undergo.

I was non long suffered to indulge my heartache ; I was shortly put down under the decks. and there I received such a salute in my anterior nariss as I had ne’er experienced in my life: so that. with the repulsiveness of the malodor. and shouting together. I became so ill and low that I was non able to eat. nor had I the least desire to savor anything. I now wished for the last friend. decease. to alleviate me ; but shortly. to my heartache. two of the white work forces offered me eatables ; and. on my refusing to eat. one of them held me fast by the custodies. and laid me across I think the winch. and tied my pess. while the other flogged me badly. I had ne’er experienced anything of this sort before ; and although. non being used to the H2O. I of course feared that component the first clip I saw it. yet however. could I have got over the gauzes. I would hold jumped over the side. but I could non ; and. besides. the crew used to watch us really closely who were non chained down to the decks. lest we should jump into the H2O: and I have seen some of these hapless African captives most badly cut for trying to make so. and hourly whipped for non eating.

This so was frequently the instance with myself. In a small clip after. amongst the hapless chained work forces. I found some of my ain state. which in a little grade gave easiness to my head. I inquired of these what was to be done with us ; they gave me to understand we were to be carried to these white people’s state to work for them. I so was a small revived. and thought. if it were no worse than working. my state of affairs was non so despairing: but still I feared I should be put to decease. the white people looked and acted. as I thought. in so savage a mode ; for I had ne’er seen among any people such cases of barbarous cruellty ; and this non merely shewn towards us inkinesss. but besides to some of the Whites themselves. One white adult male in peculiar I saw when we were permitted to be on deck. flogged so mercilessly with a big rope near the foremast. that he died in effect of it ; and they tossed him over the side as they would hold done a beast.

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This made me fear these people the more ; and I expected nil less than to be treated in the same mode. I could non assist showing my frights and apprehensivenesss to some of my countrymen: I asked them if these people had no state. but lived in this hollow topographic point ( the ship ) : they told me they did non. but came from a distant 1. “Then. ” said I. “how comes it in all our state we ne’er heard of them? ” They told me because they lived so really far off. I so asked where were their adult females? had they any similar themselves? “and why. ” said I. “do we non see them? ” they answered. because they were left buttocks. . . .

The malodor of the clasp while we were on the seashore was so unacceptably nauseating. that it was unsafe to stay at that place for any clip. and some of us had been permitted to remain on the deck for the fresh air ; but now that the whole ship’s lading were confined together. it became perfectly pestiferous. The intimacy of the topographic point. and the heat of the clime. added to the figure in the ship. which was so crowded that each had barely room to turn himself. about suffocated us. This produced voluminous sweats. so that the air shortly became unfit for respiration. from a assortment of nauseating odors. and brought on a illness among the slaves. of which many died. therefore falling victims to the improvident greed. as I may name it. of their buyers.

This wretched state of affairs was once more aggravated by the galling of the ironss. now become indefensible ; and the crud of the necessary bath. into which the kids frequently fell. and were about suffocated. The scream of the adult females. and the moans of the deceasing. rendered the whole a scene of horror about impossible. Happily possibly for myself I was shortly reduced so low here that it was thought necessary to maintain me about ever on deck ; and from my utmost young person I was non put in hobbles. In this state of affairs I expected every hr to portion the destiny of my comrades. some of whom were about day-to-day brought upon deck at the point of decease. which I began to trust would shortly set an terminal to my wretchednesss. Often did I think many of the dwellers of the deep much more happy than myself. I envied them the freedom they enjoyed. and every bit frequently wished I could alter my status for theirs. Every circumstance I met with served merely to render my province more painful. and rise my apprehensivenesss. and my sentiment of the inhuman treatment of the Whites.

One twenty-four hours they had taken a figure of fishes ; and when they had killed and satisfied themselves with every bit many as they thought tantrum. to our amazement who were on the deck. instead than give any of them to us to eat as we expected. they tossed the staying fish into the sea once more. although we begged and prayed for some every bit good as we could. but in vain ; and some of my countrymen. being pressed by hungriness. took an chance. when they thought no 1 saw them. of seeking to acquire a small in private ; but they were discovered. and the effort procured them some really terrible whippings. . . . . . . I and some few more slaves. that were non salable amongst the remainder. from really much fretting. were shipped off in a sloop for North America. . . .

While I was in this plantation [ in Virginia ] the gentleman. to whom I suppose the estate belonged. being ailing. I was one twenty-four hours sent for to his brooding house to fan him ; when I came into the room where he was I was really much affrighted at some things I saw. and the more so as I had seen a black adult female slave as I came through the house. who was cooking the dinner. and the hapless animal was cruelly loaded with assorted sorts of Fe machines ; she had one peculiarly on her caput. which locked her oral cavity so fast that she could barely talk ; and could non eat nor imbibe. I was much astonished and shocked at this appliance. which I afterwards learned was called the Fe muzzle. . .