Bartolome Casa Day

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October 12, 2009 by Ron Madson

Tomorrow we should celebrate “Bartolome de las Casa Day.”    Bartolome was a young Catholic Priest who made a copy of Columbus’ journal in which Columbus tells us of his  lust for gold and slaves and barbaric cruelty to the native indians.   Columbus’ first journal entry upon meeting the Arawak indians:  “They brought us parrots and cotton and spears and many others things.  They willingly traded everything they owned.  They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.  They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance.  They had no iron.  They would make fine servants.  With fifty men we could subjugate them and make them to whatever we want.”  Through murder and torture he conscripted indians to search for gold.  Not finding the promised gold on his second voyage he had to fill up his ships with something, so he went on a great slave raid, picked up five hundred captives to take to Spain.  Two hundred died on the voyage.  The rest arrived alive in Spain and put up for sale by the local church official.  Said Columbus:

“Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

Bartolome preserved these records and added with fear and trembling the atrocities he observed in his book “The History of the Indies.”  The conscripted indians were treated as follows:

“As for the newly born, they died early because their mothers, overworked and famished (starving) had no milk to nurse, them and for this reason while I was in Cuba 7,000 children died n the mines, wives died at work, and the children died in three months.  Some mothers even drowned their babies from sheer desperation.  In this way, husbands died in the mines, wives died at work, and children died from lack of milk.  My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and how I tremble as I write..”

So tomorrow I will call it “Bartolome de Las Casa Day.”

1 Nephi 13:12 tells us of a “man among the Gentiles, ..and I beheld that the Spirit of God that it came down and wrought upon the man” and that man we have identified as Saint Christopher Columbus.  So what does that go to show us?  Well for me it shows me that the Lord can use an man as his instrument that can do mighty works but still have gold and power on his brain and afterwards  commit atrocities.  Go figure.

The day we collectively become Christians in deed and not word, I believe history will be rewritten accordingly.  Until then…”it is the way of the world.”

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4 thoughts on “Bartolome Casa Day

  1. Forest Simmons says:

    A man can fall from grace. If Cristóbal Colon ever was in grace, he fell rather early. My wife points out that near this passage it says that a book (the Bible) came out of the mouth of a Jew was brought forth. If one Jew represents all of the Bible writers, then one Gentile can be symbolic of all of the gentiles coming from Europe whatever their reasons. The BoM emphasizes religious freedom as the reason, so perhaps the man isn’t Columbus after all.

  2. Ron Madson says:

    You know I had never considered that excellent point. We have just jumped to that conclusion but the “man” could be all that came moved by the spirit. Thank you

  3. Mike W. says:

    I was introduced to de la Casa’s book via Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and was shocked and saddened by the details of death and intent of Columbus. I don’t know why I was surprised…I had just finished The Last Days of the Incas. Maybe it was the first-hand account and the introspection that this humble Catholic priest showed, and his piousness in the face of all the elites in the government and the church to write what he wrote.

    • Forest Simmons says:

      It’s interesting that De Las Casas admired and respected Cristóbal Colón in many ways, but he was adamant that Cristóbal and the other gentile exploiters of the native Americans were in danger of damnation if they did not repent (including making restitution as far as they could) of the evils that they had fallen into (greed inspired slavery, torture, and murder).

      Their original pretext (and main ongoing rationalization) for subjugating the natives was their responsibility to bring them Christianity, just as our pretext is always “spreading democracy and freedom.”

      De las Casas spent his whole adult life writing letters to Kings, Queens, Popes, etc. trying to convince them of the evil being done and the necessity of profound repentance … but all fell upon deaf ears, and eyes blinded by the glitter of gold.

      Throughout his life Bartolomé clung to the idea that the only problem was that the King and the Pope were not getting the real picture of what was going on, that they were getting disinformation from those who benefited thereby He believed that if the higher authorities only knew what was really happening, they would surely put a stop to it.

      Perhaps if he had been more realistic (cynical) he would have given up his prodigious efforts. Instead he persisted writing persuasively and tirelessly until his death in old age (about eighty years old if i remember correctly). We find his writing very eloquent and persuasive, but evidently his intended audience did not.

      During his life time many of his arguments were translated into English and were hailed by the English as evidence of their superiority over the Spanish.

      But the English speaking world has continued in the Imperialist enterprise long after Spain gave it up.

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