Primary and Secondary Source Comparison


Primaryand Secondary Source Comparison

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June15, 2014.

ChristopherColumbus in the “New World” (1492)

Thediscovery of the new world by Columbus began in his first voyage inAugust 1492 after successful convincing the Spanish King tocontribute towards his voyage. In the primary source, Columbus letterwas addressing the Spanish King on Columbus discovery. That is whythe letter is written vividly to explain and illustrate differentcontexts of Islands and the Inhabitants. Clementswrote his piece on Columbus discovery in 1893 in regard toChristopher first voyage his historical work explains the Voyageconducted by Columbus (Clements, 1893). The date which the historicalaccount was written gives more credence and confirmation of theprimary data found in Columbus discovery of the new world.

WashingtonIrving, on the other hand, wrote the historic Voyage of Columbus in1828, his timing of writing is significant in that, the accounts onColumbus discoveries were still fresh and thereby making his workmore convincing on accounts recorded in the primary work of Columbusletter. In his work, he explains Columbus sea ventures, Islanddiscoveries and interaction with the local inhabitants.

Secondarysources like the work of WashingtonIrvingand Clementrecountsabout Columbus first-discovery voyage in similar manner as Columbusletter indicates. In his historical work, Keith asserts thatChristopher first sailed to Canary Islands where he docked forrepairs and provision restocking. Although Clement’shistorical account correlate to most facts about the Islandsdiscovered by Columbus, her work does not expound on some aspects asfound in Columbus letter on discovering a new world(Columbus,1492).

Nonetheless,the two secondary accounts relate to the primary source on the natureof indigenous communities met by Columbus, the Islands and the natureof the voyage. In particular, there exist some variations on Islandsnames discovered by Columbus and that of the historians and thelocals. For instance, Columbus named one island as San Salvador thehistorians called it the Bahamas while the locals called it Gunahanithere exists some doubt on which Island the Bahamas was based onclose analysis of the primary accounts of Columbus voyage.

InColumbus letter, he indicates the nature of the natives but does notdelve much on their way of life as WashingtonIrving,historicalaccounts records(Washington 1828).The secondary source authors have other sources that they relatetheir evidence on in particular the underlying characteristics ofinhabitants in each Island discovered by Columbus. For instance,Washingtonuses Columbus journal entry on 12thOctober 1492 to describe the characteristic of one native tribe thatColumbus and crew discovered, &quotmanyof the men have seen have scars on their bodies…’(Columbus,1492).

Byassessing these secondary sources, one can affirm that Columbusdiscovered the Caribbean Islands. However, Columbus humorousdescription of the natives might make one think that he issubjective, but on verifying secondary sources one can get a clearpicture. WhileColumbus letter gives a vivid description on voyage accounts ondistance covered between the discovered Islands, the secondaryaccounts, on the other hand, are not as elaborative as Columbuspiece. Afterassessing these sources on the accounts of Columbus discoveries, onething that is evident is that, there exists some variation in thenarration of some events, places and description of some historicalaspects. However, secondary accounts are relevant when assessing theprimary data.


ClementsR. Markham, ed., TheJournal of Christopher Columbus (during His First Voyage, 1492-93),London: The Hakluyt Society, 1893

ColumbusChristopher,&quotLetterfrom the “New World&quot Chapter 12, 1492.

WashingtonIrving, AHistory of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus,G. &amp C. Carvill, 1828