Two Letters written by Louis Gallo and Robert Petrone
to Russ Crespolini, North Jersey Regional Manager of Patch Media

On May 21, 2021, Russ Crespolini, North Jersey Regional Manager of Patch Media, wrote a critical piece about Columbus. He claims Columbus brought so much woe to the new world that Columbus Day should be eliminated on the calendar and replaced with Election Day in October rather than November. Lou Gallo, National Consultant on Columbus for the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, and Robert Petrone, a Philadelphia lawyer and historian, vigorously respond.

On May 30 2021, Louis Gallo wrote:

     I read your piece regarding the above, and as the National Consultant on Columbus for the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA) I felt an urge to re-educate you about Columbus since you were sullied in your education by revisionist professors in your college years. What’s even sadder is the position you take as a fellow Italian American, but from my experience it’s not that unusual because historically Italians are a sectarian people who for centuries stifled any attempt at unitarianism on any subject in their lives. 

     Let me start out by telling you I have studied Columbus for eight years now, and have read and am still reading anything I can get my hands on about him. In my former role as the NYS Chairman of the Commission for Social Justice (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of OSDIA that I headed for four years, I commissioned four historians who had already written positive works on Columbus to share their knowledge with our group, which we parlayed into a handy pamphlet and a stand-alone website. From my studies I put together a dramatic one-hour presentation on Columbus in costume and in the first person that played to community and fraternal groups all over New York and Connecticut. Pre-pandemic I did eighteen of these that played to rave reviews, debunking every single misconception about this icon!! I have come to one singular conclusion based on my myriad experiences——what detractors are circulating about this man is a TOTAL FABRICATION! What you’re peddling is terribly misguided! 

     In your piece you put “new world” in quotes. Typical of all detractors is judging 15thc. behavior or ideology with 21stc. attitudes! For Europeans Columbus’ landing was a discovery and a truly new world.  NO EUROPEAN UP TO THAT POINT HAD EVER LANDED IN THE CARIBBEAN! For the aborigines he made contact with it was just as much a discovery for them too!  They had never seen such bearded white skin, such superior weaponry, such majestic ships, and all that clothing!! They came to realize they were part of a much larger world beyond their horizons. The reputable astrophysicist Neal Tyson DeGrasse called Columbus’ discovery the “greatest event of the human species on this planet ever” because it was a reuniting of two human races once again after the geological continental drift. On that fact alone he deserves a national holiday!!! 

     Then you said his accidental discovery brought "assault, theft, and disease.” Yeah, that’s what followed, but here’s the kicker——it wasn’t he that was guilty of these!!! READ HIS LOG, RUSS! The initial contact was very cordial; Columbus exchanged glass beads, sailor caps and bonnets, and hawk’s bells for parrots and cotton balls! On all his voyages he always did the same! That’s not theft! In fact, his settlements were really only “factoria,” trading outposts.  After all, wherever he landed, he had to settle somewhere, and to make worthy use of his time, he inquired about gold, food, water, and timber. As far as disease, upon contact over time both native and European contracted an exchange of diseases—natives contracted the common cold, flu, measles, and smallpox; Europeans hepatitis, encephalitis, tuberculosis, and the native skin disease known as yaws when contracted by the Europeans caused syphilis which spread all through Europe as a result of Columbus’ first and second voyages. Don’t just blame Columbus for disease! When different peoples make contact over time, disease is a natural consequence!  

     As far as “assault.” let’s get the story straight!  The pivotal event that transformed cordiality to brutality occurred when Columbus left thirty-nine of his crew behind on Hispaniola on his return to Spain in January 1493 after his first voyage. He gave strict orders: no rampaging or marauding, leave the women alone, don’t cause trouble, keep cordial relations with chief Guacanagari’.  If any gold is found, keep an accounting, and we’ll trade for it. When he left, the crew did the complete opposite!  Led by Roderigo Escobedo, Pedro Gutierrez, and Diego de Arana, the crew separated into gangs and beat the men and boys, stole all the gold they could find and kept it in separate caches for themselves, and took the women as concubines. Obviously enraged, Caonabo’ of the Kingdom of Maguana killed every last one of them and burned the fort to the ground. From this point on the returning crews sought endless revenge and the natives reacted in kind. Consequently, relations soured and Columbus had the tough task as intermediary in subduing the revenge of his crew and maintaining continuous cordial relations with the natives. Here lay the crux of the problem of the whole exploratory enterprise! PERIOD!! Columbus was not the guilty party. He didn’t even seek revenge upon his return.  He just established another settlement more eastward, but always remained on guard. 

     IN FACT, it should be noted that he was never the guilty party as far as savagery and brutality. HE WAS NOT THERE WHEN THEY OCCURRED! He was either trekking into the interior to make deals with the natives for food, water, and timber since royal officials always shorted his provisions on the voyages, or establishing a settlement or trading outpost. He was under contract to explore and find new lands and thereby left the outposts to a commission which was to govern and control the settlers.  Sadly, the settlers took the opportunity to grab land and torture the natives. Lastly, he went back and forth to Spain to organize other voyages, and on his fourth voyage he was marooned on Jamaica for over a year because of shoddy ships that were shipwrecked. In the meantime Nicolas de Ovando, the new viceroy, committed a reign of terror on Hispaniola against the natives, killing eighty-four chiefs including their Queen Anacaona. RUSS, THE REAL CULPRITS BESIDES THE ONES AFOREMENTIONED ALSO INCLUDE MOSEN PEDRO MARGARIT, ADRIAN DE MUJICA, ALONSO DE OJEDA, FRANCISCO DE BOBADIILLA, FRANCISCO ROLDAN, DIEGO ESCOBAR, FRANCISCO AND DIEGO DE PORRAS, NOT COLUMBUS, AND ALL DOCUMENTED BY PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES, AND EACH WITH HIS OWN GORY STORY OF BRUTALITY AGAINST THE NATIVES!!!!! DETRACTORS NEVER TELL OF ANY OF THESE OCCURRENCES!!! Now you know who committed all the “woe" you refer to in your article!!! 

     As far as Indigenous Peoples Day OSDIA is foursquare supportive, just not on the second Monday in October! His historic sighting was at 2 am, Friday, October 12, 1492, and since Columbus was Genovese, Italians have obviously appropriated the day more than other Americans, a veritable symbol of pride, you can agree. How many other ethnic groups can claim such a proud moment that affected the entire course of western civilization, and he wasn’t, as you say, “lost.” You’re guilty of a 21stc. judgment again! Not one map he had with him had a continent on it between Africa and Asia! I’VE SEEN HIS MAPS! Europeans by their explorations in the 15thc. were just learning about the world around them on this planet. As far as Columbus calculated he landed in Asia! Period! 

      Consequently, such a day in our eyes should remain exclusive and not invaded by any other celebration. His discovery shifted the entire European mentality away from the Mediterranean and towards the Atlantic.  It set off a burgeoning wave of further exploration, settlement, migration, and colonization in the western hemisphere the world peoples had never seen!  Those peoples brought their cultural traits, mores, and folkways that eventually launched the greatest country on the face of the earth——THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! How as an Italian American can you not be enthralled with that evolution, Russ?! Or are you just following the trend of political faddism and correctness?!

      Yes, changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day is sacrilege and cultural discrimination! Reread the aforesaid history! Unilaterally or legislatively, municipalities, states, and school districts have rashly wiped away a day on a calendar regardless of its intrinsic value to Italian Americans, and yet declaim the mantra of diversity?! How hypocritical!! Geez! Your suggestion “eliminating Columbus Day” in favor of “Election Day”  doesn’t even compare to the magnitude of Columbus’ revelatory discovery! It’s not even on the same plane at all! Ruminating further, one can say if it  wasn’t for Columbus’ momentous event, we wouldn’t even have an Election Day in this country, if these hemispheric lands were not founded! 

     Here’s my suggestion for your re-education.  Go to, the CSJ website on the The True Legacy of Christopher Columbus.  You will discover a bevy of eclectic primary and secondary sources that will unravel your predisposition about Columbus.  You will become a downright believer, and when you finally do, please join us in our protracted campaign in promoting and protecting the true legacy of this transformative world icon. I remain---


Lou Gallo
National Consultant on Columbus
Immediate Past Chairman NYS CSJ
Miller Place, New York



On May 30 2021,  Robert Petrone wrote:

Mr. Crespolini,  

Not ONLY was Columbus not responsible for the troubles in the West Indies, as Mr. Gallo aptly points out, Columbus actively fought against those who were responsible and, for a multitude of reasons, was the first civil rights activist of the Americas. 

I am an attorney, author, professional researcher and expert on Christopher Columbus, having been hired by Philadelphia City Council to study the primary historical sources and respond to the false claims that Christopher Columbus was a racist / rapist / maimer / murder / genocidal maniac that have driven so many government policies lately.  All experts on Christopher Columbus agree categorically that Christopher Columbus was not the evil person that you portray him to be, Mr. Crespolini.  Stanford University Professor Carol Delaney, who dedicated decades of her life traveling around the world studying the primary historical sources regarding Columbus, has also explicitly stated that Columbus never engaged in any such atrocities. 

My years of research of the primary sources have revealed that, in fact, Christopher Columbus was the first civil rights activist of the Americas.  The primary sources, cited below, indicate that not only did he not harm anyone, either personally or by endorsing the harming of any of the tribal peoples of the West Indies, he actively fought against such behavior by the Spanish nobles who sought to enslave and force labor upon the tribal peoples of the West Indies.  Specifically, Christopher Columbus engaged in a list of at least twelve demonstrable deeds firmly establishing him as the greatest hero of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries and the Americas' first civil rights activist, including that he: 

1. consistently and persistently advocated for granting the indigenes of the West Indies full rights and protections as Spanish citizens (Letter of Christopher Columbus dated February 15, 1493, stating that the Crown should give the tribal peoples of the Indies "the love and service of their Highnesses and of the whole Spanish nation"; Historia de las Indias, Columbus's Journal entry of October 14, 1492, where he suggest they be made "subjects" of the Crown, which would grant them all the rights attendant thereto);

2. sailed the Caribbean on his Second Voyage rescuing Tainos from capture and enslavement by the flesh-eating Carib and Canib tribes, thus creating the first "underground railroad" in the Americas (Epistolary account of Columbus's 2nd Voyage by Dr. Diego Chanca; Columbus's Journal entries describing his 2nd Voyage, dated 1493 through 1496);

3. actively fought the violence of the imperialist expansion of the Crown of Spain, at times going as far as to interpose his body between the swords of conquistadors and resistant indigenes (Historia de las Indias, Book I, Chapter 92, recounting Columbus's freeing of tribal people arrested and maimed by Alonso de Hojeda, saving their lives from Hojeda's bloodthirst);  

4. highly regarded the indigenous Tainos he found in the New World, characterizing them as “intelligent,” “trustworthy,” “beautiful” and the makings of “good Christians” (Columbus's letters to the Crown of Spain, passim); 

5. promoted peace in accordance with the Commandments and the Scriptures he held in such reverence (See all entries in his diary recording his contact with the tribes, all of which were peaceful and friendly -- the entries are too numerous to list here, but are corroborated in Book I of Historia de las Indiaspassim); 

6. intervened always as a pacifying force against the greedy and entitled Spanish nobles who defied his prohibitions against enslaving the tribal peoples, revolted against Columbus’s governance in response, and indulged in mutual hostilities with the tribal peoples against Columbus’s direct mandates for peace (Books I and II of Historia de las Indias); 

7. maintained friendly, peaceful, mutually beneficial relations with the indigenes of the Americas, the overwhelming majority of whom who considered Columbus a good friend and a welcome newcomer (Book I of Historia de las Indias; Columbus's journal entries recording first contact with various tribes during his 1st and 2nd Voyages);

8. provided testimony to the court of Spain resulting in the deposing of Francisco de Bobadilla, the real perpetrator of the atrocities in the West Indies (Historia de las Indias, Book II, Chapter 3);

9. spent the entirety of his fourth voyage working to depose Bobadilla's successor, Nicolás Ovando, who continued Bobadilla’s atrocities in Columbus’s absence (Historia de las Indias, Book II, Chapter 36, recounting how Governor Ovando prohibited Columbus from coming to Hispaniola, but Columbus came anyway to confront Ovando in his own court);

10. successfully petitioned the crown of Spain to enact the first civil rights legislation of the Americas, forever securing an impregnable decree from the highest authority protecting the indigenes from enslavement or any other mistreatment (Historia de las Indias, Book II, Chapter 3);  

11. inspired Friar Bartolomé de las Casas, Protector of the Indians, to petition the crown of Spain (successfully) to fund the formation of an order of Dominican friars who stationed themselves in the West Indies and enforced the civil rights legislation that Columbus got passed, forcing the Spanish nobles to end their mistreatment and slavery of the indigenes once and for all (Historia de las Indias, Book III, Chapters 130 through 139); and 

12. initiated more than five hundred years of cultural, economic, and political relations between the Old World and the New, commencing a perpetual exchange of science, technology, law, commerce, art, music, literature, and people, benefiting and enriching the globe from pole to pole (Historia de las Indiaspassim; Journals and log books of Columbus, passimThe Life of the Admiral by Hernando Colón, passim).

I certainly hope that truth is a value to you, Mr. Crespolini.  And if so, I hope you educate yourself on the primary historical sources.  The world falls apart when you don't tell the truth!  Or maybe that is what you want? 

Robert F. Petrone, Attorney at Law
Chair of the Committee for Heritage Justice, Filitalia International & Foundation
Co-chair of 
Conference of Presidents Subcommittee to Preserve Columbus Day
Host of 
"Christopher Columbus University" on Radio Voice Italia
Co-curator of the informational repository


the truth about christopher columbus