The Enslavement of the Caribbeans: Columbus' Second Voyage

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From a letter by Michele da Cuneo, who accompanied Columbus on his second voyage and wrote the letter after his return to Italy in 1495:

When our caravels were ready to depart,
We gathered 1,600 Indians, male and female,
And on the 17th of February 1495
Loaded aboard 650 of the best, both men and women.
The rest were offered to whoever wanted them.
And so it was.

When everyone was supplied with slaves,
About 400 were freed to go where they wished,
Among whom were females with nursing infants,
Whom they flung to the ground as they fled,
Fleeing like desperate persons
Seven or eight days from our settlement,
Beyond mountains and great rivers,
So that it would be nearly impossible
Ever to take them again.

As pleased God we had such favorable winds
That we reached the island of Madeira in 23 days.
But by that time some 200 of the Indians had died,
And we cast them into the sea.

Soon after this we reached Cadiz,
Where we unloaded the slaves,
Half of whom were sick.
They are not made for work,
Fear greatly the cold,
And do not live long.

Copyright by Nicholas Gordon

Audio and Video Music: Allemande.
By Wahneta Meixsell. Music free to use at YouTube.



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