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By LaRosa

An Atlas and Survey of Latin American heritage via LaRosa, Michael J., Mejia, G...

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Spaniards established presidios, or military outposts, in addition to Catholic churches. Normally, exploratory parties moved in, claimed the land, and wrote reports or surveys of what they had found. These reports, often fanciful, unsystematic, and/or politically motivated, encouraged others to commit to a journey. Spanish missionaries were usually the first to arrive, to begin the difficult work of spreading the faith to people whose worldview was radically different from their own. Of course, propagation of the faith had political and economic consequences, as priests and friars came into de facto control of the subdued native groups.

By Columbus’s own calculations, thirty to forty days’ sailing from the Canary Islands, due west, would put him in India. Columbus knew the earth was round; what he did not know about was the presence of two significant obstacles that would prevent him from achieving his objective—the American landmass and the Pacific Ocean. One reason Spain accepted Columbus’s plan and financed his voyage involved the luck of timing. In 1492, the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, unified in the arranged marriage of Ferdinand and Isabelle in 1469, finally defeated the forces of Islam at the Battle of Granada.

Others were not so certain, and all the evidence brought back by Columbus, as well as the trajectories of his four voyages, suggested that some other place lay between Europe and India. But Columbus’s contribution to world history is singular: he was bold and daring, stubborn and superior, and the legacy he brought to America—the notion that Europeans were superior beings compared to the Native American peoples who resided in America—lasted for centuries. BIBLIOGRAPHY Carpentier, Alejo. 1990. The Harp and the Shadow.

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