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Columbus Day in the United States of America

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/13/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,138 times Debate No: 35564
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Before I begin, I would like to state that the first round will be for opening statements and a numbered list of main points that will be expanded on in the second round. The third round will be for responding to the points from the second round. The fourth round will be responding to the responses and for concluding statements. If research is used to further arguments, links to articles should be posted.

Columbus Day, an official federal holiday in the United States, celebrates Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas. It is celebrated on the second Monday of October, around the date of Columbus' historic voyage.

I argue that Columbus Day should not be an official federal holiday because it celebrates a man who was not a hero but a villain, and who was a poor role model for Americans.

1. Columbus' actions led to events that destroyed Native American societies.
2. Columbus committed many human rights violations.
3. Columbus' actions led to events that destroyed African societies.
4. Columbus supported slavery.
5. Columbus never reached territory that is in modern-day United States.
6. Columbus was not the first European to reach the Americas.

Although some might argue that Columbus was respectable, that opinion should not be imposed on every American.


I am glad I got to debate this with someone; I have always been intrigued by this topic. Thank you, my opponent, for the opportunity.

I will be arguing that Columbus Day should remain a federal holiday in the United States. Christopher Columbus' voyage was monumental in the history of both American continents. The discovery of the New world made way for the ability for European powers to being to develop and colonize a vast new reservoir of economic and agricultural resources, and eventually along the way leading to the creation of the United States.

While Christopher Columbus was no moral hero, his discovery is still highly significant and is worthy of historic remembrance with a federal holiday, as his actions would eventually provide the avenue for the creation of this country. My points are as follows:

1) Columbus' discovery opened the door for a new wave of colonization and economic opportunity, fueling the growth of European empires

2) Columbus' discovery, while not of the American mainland, sparked interest for other explorers to eventually find the mainland. He is indirectly responsible for the continents' discovery.

3) While Columbus was no hero of equality and peace, his actions regarding the natives do not detract from the historic significance of the voyage and discovery

4) The day celebrates his first voyage, not his reign as governor in Hispaniola or the actions which occurred under his following voyages. His first voyage was a peaceful affair of observance, not a military assault. Columbus day celebrates his discovery, which as I said is definitely historically significant.

While Christopher Columbus certainly should have treated the Native Americans better on his following voyages, the celebration of Columbus day is still a historically significant event that led to the establishment and founding of the United States. This is enough to validate the observance of the holiday which bears his name.

Debate Round No. 1


I will continue the debate by expanding on my points from Round 1. In the next round I will give a rebuttal to your points from the first to rounds.

1. Columbus' actions led to events that destroyed Native American societies. I quote from the first link at the bottom,

"In an era in which the international slave trade was starting to grow, Columbus and his men enslaved many native inhabitants of the West Indies and subjected them to extreme violence and brutality. On his famous first voyage in 1492, Columbus landed on an unknown Caribbean island after an arduous three-month journey. On his first day in the New World, he ordered six of the natives to be seized, writing in his journal that he believed they would be good servants. Throughout his years in the New World, Columbus enacted policies of forced labor in which natives were put to work for the sake of profits. Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino "Indians" from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold. Many died en route. Those left behind were forced to search for gold in mines and on plantations. Within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island."

As of 2010, there were 2.9 million Native American citizens living in the United States. Why should they honor Christopher Columbus? It could be compared to Jews celebrating a holiday honoring Adolf Hitler.

2. Columbus committed many human rights violations that would make him a criminal if he lived in modern times. He directly violated the 13th amendment to our constitution that forbids slavery. He and his men used Native girls ages 9-10 as sexual slaves. He forced Native men to work in his gold mines until the died of exhaustion. Columbus burned alive slaves who tried to escape, and cut off an ear or a nose from those who resisted slavery. The inhabitants of Hispaniola were a kind, peaceful, and innocent culture before Columbus arrived. You might argue that in Columbus' time, standards of morality were different. That may be true, but even with 15th century standards Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrested Columbus for his unspeakable crimes against humanity and sent him back to Europe to answer for his crimes. The king and queen of Spain were more concerned with personal profit that with morality, so they let Columbus go free.

3. Columbus' crimes were not only against Native Americans, but against African societies as well. Columbus began what became known as the Columbian Exchange. This was a trade system between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Slaves were traded in addition to goods. African societies were devastated by this because slave traders kidnapped the strongest and most physically fit Africans to be taken to the Americas. In addition to the horrible treatment the slaves received, the societies they left behind were left weak and helpless. With less strong men to fight off European invaders, Africa began a long period of colonization that lasted until the mid 20th century.
Although Columbus, wasn't directly responsible for this, he laid the ground for European domination of the Atlantic World at the expense of Africans and Native Americans.

4. Columbus supported slavery. Isn't it ironic that President's Day, a federal holiday, partially honors Lincoln, who wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, while Columbus Day, another federal holiday, honors a man who enslaved many of the inhabitants of Hispaniola and committed acts of extreme violence and brutality.

5. Columbus never reached territory that is in modern-day United States. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the modern day countries that Columbus visited, celebrate Discovery Day. I find this holiday to be less controversial because it doesn't point to a single person. If other countries can do this, why can't the United States?

6. Columbus was not the first European to reach the Americas. Although his arrival was a significant event, no child should be taught in school that he "discovered" America. Leif Erickson and the Vikings made a voyage to the Americas long before Columbus, and Native Americans had discovered America long before the Vikings. In addition, there are many other possible theories as to pre-columbian trans-oceanic contact as shown in the last link below.

Thank you for reading.


As per the debate format, I will expand on my four points for why Columbus Day should be recognized.

1) The discovery of the new continent brought about a huge economic boost for European nations, as well as introducing new agriculture.

The Columbian Exchange is the term used to describe the movement of native products from the old to the new world, and vice versa. The exchange introduced several new plants and food for each of the respective worlds. The exchange brought monumental changes in culture for Europe, Africa and America. The exchange brought tomatoes to Italy, rubber trees to Africa, potatoes to Ireland, coffee to Columbia, and cattle to Texas. Other products like chocolate draw their lineage back to the exchange, as well.

Obviously, there was also the later discovery of gold in South America, which propelled the Spanish Empire into being one of the major European powers of its day. Other European empires, seeing the potential for such growth, swarmed on the Americas and the West Indies, providing significant economic stimulation. Columbus' discovery can also be credited with the birth of international mass capitalism. With such a huge supply of new products and economic opportunity, a primitive and mercantile form of capitalism became significant part of international trade. Such an example was triangle trade, in which goods moved from the Americas to Europe to Africa and eventually back to the Americas.

The discovery Columbus made had an impact larger than just the Americas; it created an economic tsunami that shook the world (metaphorically speaking of course)

2) Columbus's discovery sparked interest in further North American exploration, and also led to the beginning of colonization in the Americas.

The voyages of Columbus sparked other famed explorers to go to the New World. Conquistadors such as Cortes and Pizarro followed after Columbus and helped to establish a vast New World empire for Spain that stretched from the western portion of the United States all the way to the southern tip of Argentina. Other explorers followed suit, including key people such as Ponce de Leon, and John Cabot.

Upon Columbus' discovery, there came a mad dash to establish large, and economically profitable empires. Also, the discovery brought about the avenue for other nations to occupy the free land, including England, which would eventually be the land which would be the foundation for the United States. This fact is sufficient to warrant the celebration of his voyage. His voyage set of a chain reaction that is key to the creation of the United States.

3) The negative actions by Columbus do not detract from the historic significance of his voyage.

This is more of a talking point, but regardless, there is no reason that the crimes of Columbus take away from the world changing effect of his voyage. To say that the discovery of Columbus was any less important because of the fact that he engaged in the slave trade and was a brute to the natives is unreasonable. It does make Columbus himself seem less reputable as a man, but his voyage is nonetheless monumental. There is a clear connection between the discovery of the continents', the establishment of European colonies, and the founding of America.

This fact warrants the United States observing the world changing voyage, considering that it was such a pivotal moment in America's history. It is also logical to name the holiday after the man who actually discovered in the first place.

4) The day celebrates the discovery, not the man.

Columbus Day celebrates the voyage of Columbus, not what he did. Now, I cannot refute the fact that as a conqueror, Columbus was guilty of several inhumane actions. However, as I have said, the voyage is the key and it is still important. Simply googling the definition of Columbus Day will prove my point (the bottom 4 sources are the first few results of doing this) and they all echo the same concept: The day celebrates the anniversary of Columbus' voyage, not Columbus' character. Its is not the same as how some states recognize Lincoln's birthday. In this case, the man as a whole is being recognized. Columbus day is meant to recognize the voyage. It only bears his name, since he was the one to discover it (and saying The Day an Italian Man Set Foot on Cuba Day isn't as compact)

Christopher Columbus' voyage was a key moment in the process of our nation's beginnings, and the magnitude of the voyage is very much worthy of a federal holiday. His voyage changed the world, and in doing so paved the way for European empires to colonize the Americas, which would lead to the founding of the United States. While Columbus was a terrible governor and an inhumane brute, his discovery was unquestionably important.

To ed this holiday would be removing a holiday which represents a very significant step in the history of the United States, for no legitimate reason, as I proved above, and as I intend to prove in the following rounds.

Thank you for your arguments, and I greatly anticipate your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2


I will begin my rebuttal on each of your four points.

1. I assume that for your first point you suggest that Columbus' discovery was a positive thing for the world because of all of the effects of the Columbian Exchange. The Columbian Exchange, however, did much more than strengthen European economies. There were many negative effects of it as well. If you attribute the supply of new products and economic opportunity to Columbus, the following parts of the Columbian Exchange must also be taken into account:
- Smallpox was a deadly disease brought from the Old World to the New World as part of the Colombian Exchange. Native Americans never developed immunity to the disease, so huge numbers of them were wiped out. The population of North America fell by at least 90% due to diseases. By starting contact between Europeans and Native Americans, Columbus was indirectly responsible for these casualties. Measles, Influenza, Chicken Pox, and Malaria also were spread to the New World.
- The disease exchange was damaging to the Europeans as well. Syphilis came on Columbus' ships when he returned to Europe. Although it was already present it Europe, the new American version was more deadly because it could be transmitted sexually. Syphilis later spread to Africa and Russia.
The Columbian Exchange was very significant on the world, but it is not a reason to celebrate Columbus' voyages. If anything, it is another reason why Columbus should not be remembered as a hero.

2. I agree that Columbus set off a "chain reaction" that led to the creation of the United States, but that was just one of the many consequences of his voyage. Some were good, some were bad. It would be historical bias if he was only remembered for the positive outcomes of his actions. Columbus Day only honors and celebrates Columbus' voyages, it doesn't do justice to the other side of the story.

3. I agree that Columbus had a world-changing voyage, but just because a historical event is important doesn't mean that it should be honored with a holiday.

4. If the day celebrates the discovery, not the man, then why is it called Columbus Day instead of Discovery Day like it is in Haiti and the Dominican Republic? Regardless of the name of the holiday, I believe that neither Columbus nor his voyages should be cause for celebration.

Thank you for reading, and I'm looking forward to your response to my points from round 1 and 2. After that, round 4 will serve as both a conclusion and as an opportunity for further expansion on the points already stated, if necessary.


HerrBoenhoffer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Because you forfeited the previous round, I will not continue my argument from the previous round. It would be unfair for me to get an extra round. I request that in the fourth round you provide a rebuttal to my points from the first two rounds.


HerrBoenhoffer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
Were it a single round, it just counts against conduct. More than that it tends to automatically give the other side conduct and argument. It's called a Full Forfeit.
Posted by Z-man 5 years ago
I'm new to this website, so what happens if one player forfeits the last two rounds with no explanation?
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
Interesting topic. I believe it's celebrated due to him being the one who opened up colonization, not due to his morals or originality.
Posted by Z-man 5 years ago
Columbus Day:
a legal holiday commemorating the discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492. It is observed by most states on the second Monday of October.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF (Full Forfeit, as opposed to partial).