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Updated January 30, 2023

The Motivations of Christopher Columbus and Father Jogues in Coming to the New World

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The Motivations of Christopher Columbus and Father Jogues in Coming to the New World essay
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In Journal of the First and Third Voyages to America, the intended audience is the Spanish upper-class. It’s mentioned in the journal that Columbus killed a snake and “kept the skin for your Highnesses.” He also mentions that “we shall find much profit there in spices” when talking about Cuba, which he believes to be “Cipango,” or Japan. By saying “we” instead of “I,” it’s implied that his audience is either the King and Queen or wealthy Spaniards in general. The intended audience for Jesuit Relations was most likely other Jesuits. It depicts Father Jogues’ situation, but it’s written by Father Jerome Lalemant.

Columbus is motivated by wealth to come to the New World. Although the French were also motivated by economic reasons, it’s mentioned in the New France reading that “French civilization embraced” the Native Americans in their attempt to convert them to Catholicism. This was their initial reason to colonize in North America, which is consistent with Father Jogue’s motivation to come to the New World. Columbus was also invested in converting Natives to Catholicism He had them “repeat the Salve and Ave Maria with the hands extended towards heaven.” But overall, Columbus’s motives were focused on conquering the Americas. Father Jogues, however, was a Jesuit missionary focused entirely on converting Native Americans.

Father Jogues describes the New World in relation to what he endures while there. He makes a distinction between different Native American tribes. He refers to the Iroquois by their name when mentioning that they were “coming in pursuit of the French and of the Savages, our allies.” Unlike Columbus, Jogues did not seek to conquer the New World, so he’s depicted as a martyr. Columbus talks about where he’ll go next, what spices and riches he’ll find, etc. His journal focuses more on material goods, while Jesuit Relations is focused on the people. And although Jesuit Relations focuses on how Father Jogues was held in captivity and tortured, some of the Natives are depicted more sympathetically. He mentions how some of the women “regarded [him] with much charity” and were “unable to look at [his] sores without compassion.”

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