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Bartolomé de las Casas

Bartolomé de las Casas was a 16th-century Spanish colonist who acted as a historian and social reformer before becoming a Dominican friar. He was appointed as the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, the first appointed "Protector of the Indians", his extensive writings, the most famous being A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies and Historia de Las Indias, chronicle the first decades of colonization of the West Indies. He described the atrocities committed by the colonizers against the indigenous peoples. Arriving as one of the first Spanish settlers in the Americas, Las Casas participated in, but felt compelled to oppose the abuses committed by colonists against the Native Americans; as a result, in 1515 he gave up his Indian slaves and encomienda, advocated, before King Charles I of Spain, on behalf of rights for the natives. In his early writings, he advocated the use of African slaves instead of Natives in the West Indian colonies but did so without knowing that the Portuguese were carrying out "brutal and unjust wars in the name of spreading the faith".

In life, he retracted this position, as he regarded both forms of slavery as wrong. In 1522, he tried to launch a new kind of peaceful colonialism on the coast of Venezuela, but this venture failed. Las Casas became a friar, leaving public life for a decade, he traveled to Central America, acting as a missionary among the Maya of Guatemala and participating in debates among colonial churchmen about how best to bring the natives to the Christian faith. Traveling back to Spain to recruit more missionaries, he continued lobbying for the abolition of the encomienda, gaining an important victory by the passage of the New Laws in 1542, he was appointed Bishop of Chiapas, but served only for a short time before he was forced to return to Spain because of resistance to the New Laws by the encomenderos, conflicts with Spanish settlers because of his pro-Indian policies and activist religious stance. He served in the Spanish court for the remainder of his life. In 1550, he participated in the Valladolid debate, in which Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda argued that the Indians were less than human, required Spanish masters to become civilized.

Las Casas maintained that they were human, that forcefully subjugating them was unjustifiable. Bartolomé de las Casas spent 50 years of his life fighting slavery and the colonial abuse of indigenous peoples by trying to convince the Spanish court to adopt a more humane policy of colonization. Unlike some other priests who sought to destroy the indigenous peoples' native books and writings, he opposed this action. Although he failed to save the indigenous peoples of the Western Indies, his efforts did result in improvement of the legal status of the natives, in an increased colonial focus on the ethics of colonialism. Las Casas is considered to be one of the first advocates for a universal conception of human dignity. Bartolomé de las Casas was born on 11 November. For centuries, Las Casas's birthdate was believed to be 1474. Subsequent biographers and authors have accepted and reflected this revision, his father, Pedro de las Casas, a merchant, descended from one of the families that had migrated from France to found the Christian Seville.

According to one biographer, his family were of converso heritage, although others refer to them as ancient Christians who migrated from France. Following the testimony of Las Casas's biographer Antonio de Remesal, tradition has it that Las Casas studied a licentiate at Salamanca, but this is never mentioned in Las Casas's own writings; as a young man, in 1507, he journeyed to Rome. With his father, Las Casas immigrated to the island of Hispaniola in 1502, on the expedition of Nicolás de Ovando. Las Casas became a slave owner, receiving a piece of land in the province of Cibao, he participated in slave raids and military expeditions against the native Taíno population of Hispaniola. In 1510, he was ordained the first one to be ordained in the Americas. In September 1510, a group of Dominican friars arrived in Santo Domingo led by Pedro de Córdoba. Las Casas was among those denied confession for this reason. In December 1511, a Dominican preacher Fray Antonio de Montesinos preached a fiery sermon that implicated the colonists in the genocide of the native peoples.

He is said to have preached, "Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before. Why do you keep them so oppressed and exhausted, without giving them enough to eat or curing them of the sicknesses they incur from the excessive labor you give them, they die, or rather you kill them, in order to extract and acquire gold every day." Las Casas himself argued against the Dominicans in favour of the justice of the encomienda. The colonists, led by Diego Columbus, dispatched a complaint against

McMurdo Sound

McMurdo Sound and its ice-clogged waters extends about 55 kilometres long and wide. The sound connects the Ross Sea to the north with the Ross Ice Shelf cavity to the south via Haskell Strait; the strait is covered by the McMurdo Ice Shelf. The Royal Society Range rises from sea level to 4,205 metres on the western shoreline. Ross Island, an historic jumping-off point for polar explorers, designates the eastern boundary; the active volcano Mount Erebus at 3,794 metres dominates Ross Island. Antarctica's largest scientific base, the United States' McMurdo Station, as well as the New Zealand Scott Base are on the southern shore of the island. Less than 10 percent of McMurdo Sound's shoreline is free of ice, it is the southernmost navigable body of water in the world. Captain James Clark Ross discovered this sound, about 1,300 kilometres from the South Pole, in February 1841, he named it after Lt. Archibald McMurdo of HMS Terror; the sound today serves as a resupply route for cargo ships and for airplanes that land on the floating ice airstrips near the McMurdo Station.

However, McMurdo Station's continuous occupation by human beings since 1957/58 has dirtied the harbor of Winter Quarters Bay. The pack ice that girdles the shoreline at Winter Quarters Bay and elsewhere in the sound presents a formidable obstacle to surface ships. Vessels require ice-strengthened hulls and have to rely upon escort by icebreakers; such extreme sea conditions have limited access by tourists, who otherwise are appearing in increasing numbers in the open waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. The few tourists who reach the McMurdo Sound find spectacular scenery with wildlife to be seen, including killer whales, seals, Adélie penguins, emperor penguins. Cold circumpolar currents of the Southern Ocean reduce the flow of warm South Pacific or South Atlantic waters reaching McMurdo Sound and other Antarctic coastal waters. Bitter katabatic winds spilling down from the Antarctic polar plateau into McMurdo Sound demonstrate Antarctica's status as the coldest and windiest continent in the world.

The McMurdo Sound freezes over with sea ice about 3 metres thick during the winter. The Antarctic summer causes the pack ice to break up. Wind and currents may push the ice northward into the Ross Sea, stirring up cold bottom currents that spill into the ocean basins of the world. Temperatures during the dark winter months at McMurdo Station have dropped as low as −51 °C; however and January are the warmest months, with average highs at −1 °C, according to USA Today. McMurdo Sound's role as a strategic waterway dates back to early 20th century Antarctic exploration. British explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Scott built bases on the sound's shoreline as jumping-off points for their overland expeditions to the South Pole. McMurdo Sound's logistic importance continues today. Aircraft transporting cargo and passengers land upon frozen runways at Williams Field on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. Moreover, the annual sealift of a cargo ship and fuel tanker rely upon the sound as a supply route to the continent's largest base, the United States' McMurdo Station.

Both the U. S. base and New Zealand's nearby Scott Base are on the southern tip of Ross Island. Ross Island is the southmost piece of land in Antarctica, accessible by ship. In addition, the harbor at McMurdo's Winter Quarters Bay is the world's southmost seaport; the access by ships depends upon favorable ice conditions. McMurdo Sound during austral winter presents a impenetrable expanse of surface ice. During summer, ships approaching McMurdo Sound are blocked by various concentrations of first-year ice, fast ice, hard multi-year ice. Subsequently, icebreakers are required for maritime resupply missions to McMurdo Station. Nonetheless, ocean currents and fierce Antarctic winds can drive pack ice north into the Ross Sea, temporarily producing areas of open water. A common event of unseen dimensions occurred on the Ross Ice Shelf in 2000 that wreaked havoc at McMurdo Sound more than five years later; the 282-kilometre long Iceberg B-15, the largest seen at the time, broke off from the Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000.

On 27 October 2005, B-15 broke up. Research based upon measurements retrieved from a seismometer placed on B-15 indicated that ocean swells caused by an earthquake 13,000 kilometres away in the Gulf of Alaska caused the breakup, according to a report by the U. S. National Public Radio. Wind and sea currents shifted a still massive Iceberg B-15A towards McMurdo Sound. B-15A's enormous girth temporarily blocked the outflow of pack ice from McMurdo Sound, according to news reports. Iceberg B-15A's grounding at the mouth of McMurdo Sound blocked the path for thousands of penguins to reach their food source in open water. Moreover, pack ice built up behind the iceberg in the Ross Sea creating a nearly 150-kilometre frozen barrier that blocked two cargo ships en route to supply McMurdo Station, according to the National Science Foundation; the icebreakers USCGC Polar Star and the Russian Krasin were required to open a ship channel through ice up to 3 metres thick. The last leg of the channel followed a route along the eastern shoreline of McMurdo Sound adjacent to Ross Island.

The icebreakers escorted the tanker USNS Paul Buck to McMurdo Station's ice pier in late January. The freighter MV American Tern followed on 3 February. Similar pack ice blocked a National Geographic expedition aboard the 34-metre Braveheart from reaching B-15A. However, expedition divers were able to explore the underwater world

James Davidson (Scottish architect)

James Davidson, JP FRIBA was a Scottish architect. He served as a Provost of Coatbridge and a President of Airdrie Savings Bank. Davidson was born in 1848 in the son of a weaver, he was educated at Airdrie Academy and trained as a joiner. As a teenager he attended classes at the Athenaeum in Ingram Street. In 1905 and 1906, Davidson designed the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, in collaboration with J. D. Swanston. Davidson was responsible for designing the exterior and Swanston designed the interior. Davidson designed many schools for the Old Monklands School Board between 1892 and 1914; these included Calderbank Public School, Bargeddie Primary School, Greenhill Primary School, Gartsherrie Primary School and Langloan Primary School. On 10 November 1909, Davidson was elected Provost of Coatbridge, he continued in this role until 1912. In 1920 he designed the building of Airdrie Savings Bank. From 1921 until his death in April 1923, Davidson served as the tenth President of Airdrie Savings Bank. In 1877 and 1878, Davidson served as the Master of the Operative Lodge of Airdrie No 203, part of the Freemasons