Eric Foner’s ‘Voices of Freedom’ contains an excerpt from Bartolomé de las Casas’s History of the Indies, a book he had started writing in 1527 and was published a year later in 1528. Primarily, History of the Indies, as it title suggests, was a recollection of the history of the Indies from 1492, when Christopher Columbus first arrived in the New Land, until 1520, based upon everything Bartolomé witnessed himself. It can be assumed that Bartolomé’s book was directed to the Castilian Crown as well, to deliberately provoke the Europeans, and this is how the concept of the “Black Legend” of Spain was established among the country’s enemies.
Bartolomé’s book not only looks back at the history of the Indies, but he also explicitly describes the condition in which the Indians were forced to live, where they “were totally deprived of their freedom” (Foner). This is the central theme that has been explored by him in the book, and as a result, he was able to express his discontent against how the Indigenous people were being mistreated, and against slavery.
Bartolomé wrote the book during a period in which Christopher Columbus’s vision had long been forgotten as a result of the hunger for gold and mass genocide. Thus, the horrors that Bartolomé documented in his book were a strong expression of what was happening.
In the History of the Indies, Bartolomé also apologizes for his former support of African slavery before he had started writing this book.
Nonetheless, it should not be forgotten that Bartolomé this book during a period in which the Indies was in a state of war and imperial politics had taken over. Despite all of this, he made a stand for the Native Indians, through his previous books, and this one. As a result, his book ended up influencing Spanish laws, which were the cause of the mistreatment of the Indians.
“Bartolomé de Las Casas and his Defence of the Indians.”tairona.myzen.co.uk. The Tairona Heritage Trust 2008. Web. 19 Jan 2013. <http://tairona.myzen.co.uk/index.php/history/bartolome_de_las_casas_and_his_defence_of_the_indians/>.
De Las Casas, Brtolome. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. New York: Empire Books, 2011. Print.
Foner, E. Give me liberty!, an american history. 3rd ed. 1. W. W. Norton & Company, 2011. Print.
Reilly, Kevin. “The History of the Indies.”www2.stetson.edu. Stetson University, n.d. Web. 19 Jan 2013. <https://www2.stetson.edu/secure/history/hy10430/lascasashistory.html>.