Who arrested Christopher Columbus in a power grab for control of Hispaniola in 1500?

Francisco de Bobadilla

Francisco de Bobadilla was born in Aragon (northeastern Spain) to a noble family.

Francisco fought in the Granada War (1482-1492) for Catholic Monarchs, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, in their struggle against the Moors.

Christopher Columbus was received as a hero in Spain March 15, 1493 after his First Voyage of Discovery.

Columbus had departed Spain again September 24, 1493 on his Second Voyage.

In February 1495, Columbus disobeyed the Queen and took 1,600 people from the Arawak tribe, who were taken by the Carib as captives and slaves. There was no room for about 400 of the kidnapped on his ships so they were released, leaving 1,200 people forcibly taken from their homeland.

Despite Queen Isabella’s fury, Columbus had set off on his Third Voyage May 30, 1498.

In the roughly two years of Columbus’s Third Voyage, the settlement on Hispaniola had seen some rough times. Supplies and tempers were short and the vast wealth that Columbus had promised settlers while arranging the second voyage had failed to appear. Columbus had been a poor governor during his brief tenure (1494-1496) and the colonists were not happy to see him. The settlers complained bitterly, and Columbus had to hang a few of them in order to stabilize the situation.

Realizing that he needed help governing the unruly and hungry settlers, Columbus sent two ships to Spain in 1499 for assistance. Columbus was asking the Royal Court of Spain to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. Accusations of tyranny and incompetence on the part of Columbus had also reached the Court.

On May 21, 1499, the Catholic Monarchs appointed Francisco de Bobadilla as an inquest judge with full powers of a royal commissioner and chief justice to investigate Christopher Columbus at Santo Domingo. The complaints against Christopher Columbus and his administration of Hispaniola, included the enslavement of Native Indians, discontent of colonists, and accusations of betrayal and bitter attacks from his many enemies.

Francisco de Bobadilla sailed in command of two ships with about 500 men and 14 Native Indians. The Natives had been taken to Spain by Columbus on his first voyage and were being returned to their homeland.

Upon Francisco’s arrival at Santo Domingo on August 23, 1500, he discovered that Columbus was in La Vega, leaving brother Diego Columbus in charge of the Spanish settlement.

Diego refused to acknowledge de Bobadilla’s investigation. Two days later Francisco learned that Columbus had hanged five Spaniards for insubordination, along with accusations about all three Columbus brothers.

Columbus had an economic interest in the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives and for that reason was not eager to baptize them, which had attracted criticism from some churchmen. Francisco also discovered an entry in Christopher Columbus’s own journal from September 1498 that read:

“From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold…”

In later years Consuelo Varela, a Spanish historian, wrote:

“Even those who loved him (Christopher Columbus) had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”

Francisco became so furious that he immediately arrested Diego and took possession of Santo Domingo, appointing himself governor. He issued arrest orders against Christopher and brother Bartholomew Columbus for mistreatment of settlers as well as natives.

When word of this reached Christopher Columbus in September, he turned himself in and was immediately placed in irons. Columbus, along with his brothers, were all cast into the stockade to await return to Spain.

In early October, 1500 Francisco de Bobadilla’s two ships departed for Spain carrying Christopher Columbus and both of his brothers, likewise in chains.

Once they arrived back in Spain, a grieving Christopher Columbus wrote to a friend at court:

 “It is now seventeen years since I came to serve these princes with the Enterprise of the Indies. They made me pass eight of them in discussion, and at the end rejected it as a thing of jest. Nevertheless I persisted therein… Over there I have placed under their sovereignty more land than there is in Africa and Europe, and more than 1,700 islands… In seven years I, by the divine will, made that conquest. At a time when I was entitled to expect rewards and retirement, I was incontinently arrested and sent home loaded with chains… The accusation was brought out of malice on the basis of charges made by civilians who had revolted and wished to take possession on the land…. I beg your graces, with the zeal of faithful Christians in whom their Highnesses have confidence, to read all my papers, and to consider how I, who came from so far to serve these princes… now at the end of my days have been despoiled of my honor and my property without cause, wherein is neither justice nor mercy.”

According to an uncatalogued document supposedly discovered very late in history purporting to be a record of Columbus’s trial which contained the alleged testimony of 23 witnesses, Columbus regularly used barbaric acts of torture to govern Hispaniola.

Columbus and his brothers lingered in jail for six weeks before King Ferdinand ordered their release. Not long after, the king and queen summoned the Columbus brothers to the Alhambra palace in Granada.

Columbus before the Queen, as imagined by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

There the royal couple heard the brothers’ pleas; restored their freedom and wealth; and, after much persuasion, agreed to fund Columbus’s fourth voyage.

But the door was firmly shut on Columbus’s role as governor.

Henceforth, on September 3, 1501, The Spanish Crown decided to replace Francisco de Bobadilla and make Nicolás de Ovando the third Governor and Captain-General of Hispaniola, West Indies.

Thus, on February 13, 1502, they sailed from Spain with a fleet of thirty ships. It was the largest fleet that had ever sailed to the New World.

The thirty ships carried 2,500 colonists. Unlike Columbus’s earlier settlements, this group of colonists was deliberately selected to represent an organized cross-section of Spanish society.

Ovando’s new plan was to develop the West Indies economically and thereby expand Spanish political, religious, and administrative influence in the region.

Along with Columbus and Ovando, also came Francisco Pizarro, who would later explore western South America and conquer the Inca Empire.

Another ship also carried Bartolomé de las Casas later known as the ‘Protector of the Indians’.

In April 1502, Columbus and Ovando arrived at Santo Domingo. They found the natives in a state of revolt.

For failing to have restored order in Santo Domingo, Francisco de Bobadilla was ordered back to Spain.

June 29, ignoring Christopher Columbus’s hurricane warning, Ovando sent Francisco de Bobadilla on their return trip to Spain.

July 1, 1502, 20 vessels of the 31-ship convoy sank in the Mona passage taking some 500 lives, including former governor Francisco de Bobadilla.

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Mona passage


Sunday, November 18, 1883 – “The Day of Two Noons”

As railroads expanded around the world, local time schedules became increasingly problematic.

This problem of differing local times could not be solved across large areas without synchronizing clocks, but in many places the local time would then differ markedly from the solar time to which people were accustomed.

The first railroad to adopt a standard time was the Great Western Railway in November 1840, referring to time as Railway time.

The first adaptation of standard time in the world was established on December 1, 1847, in Great Britain by railway companies using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) kept by portable chronometers.

The increase in worldwide communication further increased the need for interacting parties to communicate mutually comprehensible time references to one another.

Timekeeping on American railroads in the mid-19th century was somewhat confused. Each railroad used its own standard time, usually based on the local time of its headquarters or most important terminus, and each railroad’s train schedules were published using its own time. Some major railroad junctions served by several different railroads had a separate clock for each railroad, each showing a different time; the main station in Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania, for example, kept six different times.

Charles F. Dowd proposed a system of one-hour standard time zones for American railroads about 1863, although he published nothing on the matter at that time and did not consult railroad officials until 1869.

On November 2, 1868, the then-British colony of New Zealand officially adopted a standard time zone to be observed throughout the colony, and was perhaps the first country to do so. It was based on the longitude 172°30′ East of Greenwich, that is 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT. This standard was known as New Zealand Mean Time.

Time zones were a compromise, relaxing the complex geographic dependence while still allowing local time to approximate the mean solar time.

In 1870, Charles F. Dowd proposed four ideal time zones (having north–south borders), the first centered on Washington, D.C., but by 1872 the first was centered 75°W of Greenwich, with geographic borders (for example, sections of the Appalachian Mountains).

Dowd’s system was never accepted by American railroads.

Instead, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented a version proposed by William F. Allen, the editor of the Traveler’s Official Railway Guide.

The borders of its time zones ran through railroad stations, often in major cities. For example, the border between its Eastern and Central time zones ran through Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Charleston.

This was inaugurated on Sunday, November 18, 1883, also called “The Day of Two Noons” when each railroad station clock was reset as standard-time noon was reached within each time zone. The zones were named Intercolonial (now known as Atlantic Time in eastern Canada), Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Within one year, 85% of all cities with populations over 10,000, about 200 cities, were using standard time.

1913 Time Zone map

A notable exception was Detroit (which is about half-way between the meridians of eastern time and central time), which kept local time until 1900, then tried Central Standard Time, local mean time, and Eastern Standard Time before a May 1915 ordinance settled on EST and was ratified by popular vote in August 1916.

The confusion of times came to an end when Standard zone time was formally adopted by the U.S. Congress in the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918.

U.S. Commissioner of Railroads William H. Armstrong gave the following account of the new railroad time system in his Report to the Secretary of the Interior for 1883:

The question of uniform time standards for railways of the United States has long attracted the attention of railway managers, but Mr. W. F. Allen, editor of the Traveler’s Official Guide, and secretary of the time conventions, is entitled to the credit of having perfected the admirable system which was adopted by the general time convention of railway managers, held at Chicago, October 11, 1883, and ratified by the southern railway time convention, held at New York, October 17, 1883.

As this is a subject of great interest to the entire country, a brief synopsis of the general principles governing the proposed plan is deemed appropriate in this report.

Under the present system each railway is operated independently on the local time of some principal point or points on said road, but this plan was found to be highly objectionable because some fifty standards, intersecting and interlacing each other, were in use throughout the country. By the plan which has been adopted this number will be reduced to four, the difference in time being one hour between each, viz, the 75th, 90th, 105th, and 120th degrees of longitude west from Greenwich. The adoption of these standards will not cause a difference of more than thirty minutes from the local time at any point which is now used as a standard. The new arrangement goes into effect November 18, 1883, and all changes of time are to occur at the termini of roads, or at the ends of divisions. The seventy-fifth meridian being almost precisely the central meridian for the system of roads now using standards based upon the time of the Eastern cities, and the ninetieth meridian being equally central for roads now running by the time of Western cities, the time of these meridians has been adopted for the territory which includes 90 %  of the whole railway system of the country. Nearly all of the larger cities have abolished local time and adopted that of the nearest standard meridian in use by the railways.

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The “Highway to India” opened to shipping November 17, 1869 connecting which two Seas?

Construction began in April 25, 1859 on what was called the “Highway to India.”

French engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps, a former French consul to Cairo, persuaded the Ottoman Egyptian viceroy, Sa’id Pasha, to let him build the “Highway.”

Eliciting images of the construction of the Great Pyramids, Lesseps began by kidnapping male Egyptians from villages, forcing hundreds of thousands of them to physically dig out his canal with picks and shovels.

It is estimated that over 30,000 people were working on the canal at any given time, and that in total more than 1.5 million people from various countries participated one way or another in the construction of the canal.

Although there is no consensus on the exact number, it is estimated that as many as 120,000 laborers died building the canal.

Slowed by a cholera epidemic, the canal fell four years behind schedule, opening six months after the United States transcontinental railroad was completed.

Suez Canal 1860

The Highway to India allowed for transportation by seawater between Europe and Asia for the first time without navigation around Africa. It contained no locks; seawater flowed freely through the canal. When first built, the canal was 102 miles long and 26 feet deep.

The artificial waterway connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. The southern terminus is located near the Egyptian city of Suez, thus we know the Highway to India as – the Suez Canal.

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“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten” ― Rudyard Kipling, author of the Jungle Book

Embossed cover from the original edition of The Jungle Book

Joseph Rudyard Kipling’s father was a sculptor and pottery designer, his mother a vivacious young woman. They met in 1863 and fell in love at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire England. They married and decided to follow their dreams of adventure by running off to India in 1865. Their son, Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born that December in the enchanted world of Bombay, British India.

Malabar Point, Bombay, 1865

His parents had been so moved by the beauty of Rudyard Lake that they made reference to the lake with his middle name. Unfortunately, as was the custom in British India, Rudyard and his three-year-old sister, Alice (“Trix”), were taken to Portsmouth, England to live with a couple who boarded children of British nationals serving in India.

For the next six years, the two children lived with Captain Pryse Agar Holloway, once an officer in the merchant navy, and his wife Sarah Holloway. In his autobiography, published some 65 years later, Kipling recalled the stay with horror, and wondered ironically if the combination of cruelty and neglect which he experienced there at the hands of Mrs. Holloway might not have hastened the onset of his literary life:

“If you cross-examine a child of seven or eight on his day’s doings (specially when he wants to go to sleep) he will contradict himself very satisfactorily. If each contradiction be set down as a lie and retailed at breakfast, life is not easy. I have known a certain amount of bullying, but this was calculated torture — religious as well as scientific. Yet it made me give attention to the lies I soon found it necessary to tell: and this, I presume, is the foundation of my literary effort”

Finally, at the age of eleven, his mother returned from India and removed her children from the Holloway’s. Kipling remembered that often his mother would ask me why he and his sister had never told anyone how they were being treated, he later wrote his reply;

“Children tell little more than animals, for what comes to them they accept as eternally established. Also, badly-treated children have a clear notion of what they are likely to get if they betray the secrets of a prison-house before they are clear of it”

It was from this childhood that Rudyard would write wonderful children’s stories such as the Jungle Book; “Yet it made me give attention to the lies I soon found it necessary to tell: and this, I presume, is the foundation of my literary effort”.

Rudyard was sent off again, this time to a school founded a few years earlier to prepare boys for the British Army. School was difficult for Rudyard, yet provided the setting years later for his schoolboy stories Stalky & Co. (1899).

This school was not all tough times, as Kipling met and fell in love with Florence Garrard, a roommate of his sister Trix at Southsea. Florence was to become the model for Maisie in Kipling’s first novel, The Light that Failed (1891).

Near the end of his stay at military school, it was decided that he lacked the academic ability to get a scholarship to a fine University and Kipling didn’t want to join the British Army. Rudyard’s father somehow obtained a job for his son in Lahore, Punjab (now in Pakistan), where Rudyard was to be assistant editor of a small local newspaper, the Civil & Military Gazette.

The Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore, the newspaper which Kipling was to call “mistress and most true love”, appeared six days a week throughout the year except for a one-day break each for Christmas and Easter. Stephen Wheeler, the editor, worked Kipling hard, but Kipling’s need to write became unstoppable.

In 1886 he published his first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties. That year also brought a change of editors at the newspaper; Kay Robinson, the new editor, allowed more creative freedom and Kipling was asked to contribute short stories to the newspaper. In an article printed in the Chums boys’ annual (No. 256, Vol. V, 4 August 1897, page 798) an ex-colleague of Kipling’s stated that …”he never knew such a fellow for ink – he simply reveled in it, filling up his pen viciously, and then throwing the contents all over the office, so that it was almost dangerous to approach him”.

The anecdote continued: “In the hot weather, when he (Kipling) wore only white trousers and a thin vest, he is said to have resembled a Dalmatian dog more than a human being, for he was spotted all over with ink in every direction.”

Soon Kipling’s time with the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore would come to an end. In November 1887 Rudyard was transferred to the Gazette’s much larger sister newspaper, The Pioneer, in Allahabad in the United Provinces. Kipling’s writing continued at a frenetic pace until he was discharged from The Pioneer in early 1889, after a dispute.

By this time Rudyard had been increasingly thinking about his future, he sold the rights to his six volumes of stories and decided to use this money to make his way back to London.

On 9 March 1889, Rudyard Kipling left India, travelling first to San Francisco via Rangoon, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. He then travelled through the United States, writing articles for The Pioneer that were later published in From Sea to Sea and Other Sketches, Letters of Travel. Starting his American travels in San Francisco, Kipling journeyed north to Portland, Oregon; to Seattle, Washington; up into Canada, to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia; back into the U.S. to Yellowstone National Park; down to Salt Lake City; then east to Omaha, Nebraska, and on to Chicago, Illinois; then to Beaver, Pennsylvania on the Ohio River. From there Kipling went to Chautauqua and later to Niagara Falls, Toronto, Washington, D.C., New York and Boston. In the course of this journey he met Mark Twain in Elmira, New York, and was deeply impressed. He then crossed the Atlantic, and reached Liverpool in October 1889.

In 1891, after working so hard that he suffered a nervous breakdown, Kipling embarked on another sea voyage visiting South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and once again India. However, he cut short his plans for spending Christmas with his family in India when he heard of his publishers sudden death from typhoid fever, and immediately decided to return to London.

Rudyard had been having an intermittent romance with his publishers sister, Caroline Starr Balestier whom he met a year earlier and called “Carrie.”

Meanwhile, Kipling published his collection of short stories of the British in India, Life’s Handicap, as he rekindled his love for Carrie.

Then on January 18, 1892, Rudyard and Carrie were married, as he later would recall; “during the thick of an influenza epidemic, when the undertakers had run out of black horses and the dead had to be content with brown ones.”

The newlywed couple fled London, settling upon a honeymoon that would take them first to the United States (including a stop at the Carrie’s Balestier family estate near Brattleboro, Vermont) and then on to Japan. However, when they arrived in Yokohama, Japan, they discovered that their bank, The New Oriental Banking Corporation, had failed. Taking this loss in stride, they returned to the U.S., back to Vermont — with Carrie pregnant with their first child — and rented a small cottage on a farm near Brattleboro for ten dollars a month.

According to Kipling, “We furnished it with a simplicity that fore-ran the hire-purchase system. We bought, second or third hand, a huge, hot-air stove which we installed in the cellar. We cut generous holes in our thin floors for its eight-inch tin pipes (why we were not burned in our beds each week of the winter I never can understand) and we were extraordinarily and self-centredly content.”

In this house, which they called Bliss Cottage, their first child, Josephine, was born “in three foot of snow on the night of December 29, 1892. Her Mother’s birthday being the 31st and Rudyard’s the 30th of the same month, we congratulated her on her sense of the fitness of things …”

It was also in this cottage that the first concepts of the Jungle Books came to Kipling:

” . . workroom in the Bliss Cottage was seven feet by eight, and from December to April the snow lay level with its window-sill. It chanced that I had written a tale about Indian Forestry work which included a boy who had been brought up by wolves. In the stillness, and suspense, of the winter of ’1892 some memory of the Masonic Lions of my childhood’s magazine, and a phrase in Haggard’s Nada the Lily, combined with the echo of this tale. After blocking out the main idea in my head, the pen took charge, and I watched it begin to write stories about Mowgli and animals, which later grew into the two Jungle Books “

In the short span of four years, he produced, in addition to the Jungle Books, a collection of short stories (The Day’s Work), a novel (Captains Courageous), and a profusion of poetry, including the volume The Seven Seas. The collection of Barrack-Room Ballads, first published individually for the most part in 1890, which contains his poems “Mandalay” and “Gunga Din” was issued in March 1892. He especially enjoyed writing the Jungle Books—both masterpieces of imaginative writing—and enjoyed, too, corresponding with the many children who wrote to him about them.

Kipling in his Vermont study, 1895

Kipling went on to write many more short stories and novels exhibiting “a versatile and luminous narrative gift.”

In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize.

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Where did the term – Red Flag originate?

In the Middle Ages and early days of naval warfare, attacking ships would request the immediate unconditional surrender of their intended prey by signaling with a long red streamer. This streamer or flag became known as the Baucans, a signal of defiance and battle.

Baucans was the generic name for the Ghosts, Ghouls and fearsome Apparitions from ancient folklore.

If the opposing ship refused to surrender or decided to fight, this red flag meant “no quarter would be given.” In other words, they would show no mercy, allow no clemency, and their lives would not be spared – a fight to the death as the loser would be vanquished.

The Baucans red flag was also raised in cities and castles under siege to indicate that they would not surrender.

The expression “no quarter will be given,” originated from ancient commanders of victorious armies stating that they would not “quarter” or house, captured enemy soldiers. Therefore, since none could be taken prisoner, all enemy combatants must be killed.

It should also be noted that a second assertion has been referenced in history. This assertion stated that “no quarter” meant that “no agreement or surrender” would be accepted.

A third meaning also traces back to an agreement between the Dutch and Spaniards; whereby they agreed to ransom an officer for one “quarter” of his pay.

Oddly inverting this original symbolism, the French during their Reign of Terror (1793–1794) made the red flag an unofficial national emblem by flying a red flag to honor the “martyrs’ blood” of those who had been killed before them.

They called this red flag a Joli Rouge (pretty red).

It is also thought that pirates originally used a red flag, which eventually led to their use of what we call today the “Jolly Roger,” a corruption of the original French “Joli Rouge.”


Jolly Roger flag

During the Mexican siege of the Alamo in March 1836, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana displayed a plain large red flag (approx. 10 feet square) from the highest church tower in Bejar. This flag was directed to the Alamo defenders – informing them of “no surrender; no clemency.”

Today in the United States a Red Flag Warning is also known as a Fire Weather Warning, issued by the United States National Weather Service to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildfire ignition.

To the public, a Red Flag Warning means high fire danger with increased probability of a quickly spreading vegetation fire in the area within 24 hours.

In the politics of today, a red flag is a symbol of Socialism, or Communism, or sometimes simply left-wing politics in general. It has had this association with left-wing politics since the French Revolution.

Socialists adopted the symbol during the Revolutions of 1848 and it became a symbol of communism as a result of its use by the Paris Commune of 1871.

The flags of several communist states, including China, Vietnam and the Soviet Union, are explicitly based on this original red flag.

The red flag is also used as a symbol by some democratic socialists and social democrats, for example the Avami National Party (Pakistan), French Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

The Labour Party in Britain used it until the late 1980s.

It was the inspiration for the socialist anthem, The Red Flag.

During the Red Scare of 1919-20 in the United States, many states passed laws forbidding the display of red flags, including Minnesota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and California.

In Stromberg v. California, the United States Supreme Court held that such laws are unconstitutional.

And finally, here in Oklahoma, the states first flag was adopted in 1911, four years after statehood. Taking the colors red, white, and blue from the flag of the United States, the flag featured a large centered white star, outlined with thin stripes of blue on a red background. The number 46 was written in blue inside the star, as Oklahoma was the forty-sixth state to join the Union.

A contest, sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, was held in 1924 to replace the flag, as red flags (as previously noted) were closely associated with communism.

The winning entry by Louise Fluke, which was adopted as the state flag on April 2, 1925, consisted of a traditional Osage Nation buffalo-skin shield with seven eagle feathers on a sky blue field.

Oklahoma flag from 1925

The state name Oklahoma was added and the colors and shapes standardized by Oklahoma Senate Bill 1359 and signed into law by Governor Brad Henry on May 23, 2006.

Oklahoma State flag today

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