Moral Reflections on the Columbian Legacy
THE IMPETUS GIVEN BY OUTSIDE INVITATIONS TO PUT one's thoughts on paper cannot be overvalued. Although invitations often arrive at inopportune moments (during final exams, the extraction of wisdom teeth, the arrival of a new baby), they almost always allow enough lead time to research, outline, and write the masterwork while ignoring only two other commitments and a trio of best laid plans. Occasionally, the results seem worth all the angst and you silently thank your persistent benefactors for providing both a text and a pretext for exercising your latent literary inclinations.
For this reason especially I am grateful to the Mead-Swing Lectureship Committee at Oberlin College for inviting me to talk about "the moral dimensions of the interaction of European and native American peoples in the wake of Columbus's voyages" in September. 1990. I had just taught a course "The World of Columbus" and was eager to see what I thought about the whole messy "Encounter" by writing it down. I was also happy to accept because an old Yale and Cambridge friend, Fred Starr, was president and my younger son had attended the college not long before.
Having fulfilled my obligations to Oberlin, I was free to take the lecture on the road whenever a university or group wanted an unconventional slant on the Quincentenary, which happened