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Sample DBQ response to "Should the Voyages of Zheng He Be Celebrated?"
Here's the sample. I went with the "yeah he deserves some recognition" narrative. FYI, this was written when I was in the tenth grade and I'd like to mention I'
Should the Voyages of Zheng He Be Celebrated?
Any elementary student should be able to recognize the name of Christopher Columbus. He is typically associated with “discovering” the American continent on a voyage to find a new route to India. He is seen as a national hero, a revolutionizer, the man has his own holiday, With history normally centralized around Europe and America, names like Zheng He and Vasco Da Gama are not usually recognized. Zheng He was a Muslim eunuch from China who led seven great voyages with huge treasure ships and numbers across great distances. However, his name isn’t a household name like Christopher Columbus. Zheng He does deserve to be treated on par with Columbus because of the great distances he travelled, the sheer size of his fleet, and his impact on the world.
Zheng He commanded seven voyages and on each round trip he travelled more than 11,000 miles. On his seventh voyage, starting from Nanking, China to Mombasa, Kenya and back to Nanking was approximately 19,000 miles long [The Voyages of Zheng He, “Great Armada”]. Christopher Columbus travelled only 2,000 miles on the his voyages [Based on the Chart comparing Zheng He and Columbus]. The Chinese eunuch travelled all throughout the “four seas under the canopy of heaven” [The Chengle Inscription]. His achievement of not only spending decades of his life travelling thousands and thousands of miles should give him the merit of at least being known, but the fact that he travelled much more than the famed Columbus should make him just as well-known.
The size of his treasure ships and number of boats in his fleet makes it a true wonder of why he was not renowned for his voyages. His fleet was made up of 255 ships and well over 27,000 people in his fleet [Zheng He’s Fleet by the Numbers], as opposed to Columbus's 3 ships and only about 90 people in his crew [ Based on the Chart comparing Zheng He and Columbus]. That speaks magnitudes of the blatant favoritism in history in terms of just emphasizing Europe’s roles in shaping history. Zheng He had 62 treasure ships, large 400 feet ships with 7 masts and sails, as opposed to Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria, which was complete with 3 masts and sails at the length of only 85 feet [When China ruled the seas]. He controlled the largest fleet of wooden ships known by history, and most people cannot recognize his name?
The number one reason why Zheng He should be remembered is his impact on the world. He controlled a fleet that visited 7 main centers of civilization in the East (meaning that the Americas was a not a fact) and recreated or reinforced their contact with China. Early Ming Dynasty China was offered tribute by foreign envoys at the Chinese Court. A partial list of things offered to the Chinese includes; pepper, exotic animals, and local products from places like North Vietnam and India. Emperor Yongle (Chinese) in turn offered silk, paper money, and copper coins. Zheng He helped make trade prosper, but the Chinese gave so much paper money to the Indian Ocean region, that their influence was a unforgettable for a while. The paper money from China created a huge inflation in the area that was a serious problem. Zheng He impacted the world in another way too. When he came into contact with “barbarian kings who resisted” and he “captured alive --wiped out the bandits” [Chengle Inscription]. The soldiers he had fought and weakened anyone they saw as resistant. Everything about wars in World History tells learners that fighting and invasions weaken everything from small bands to entire empires. Zheng He and his men might have helped with the fall of some groups; confrontation, no matter how small, erodes at the foundation of society.
Christopher Columbus’s achievements pale in comparison of Zheng He’s, but Columbus has a national holiday. Columbus aided in the murder of numerous Native Americans and the enslavement of the ones that survived. Zheng He might have been a Chinese admiral, which meant that since he wasn’t European, the world conveniently forgot about him in favor of other “proper” figures. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be remembered; his travels with his vast, amazing fleet travelling wide and far, while impacting the world with both positive and negative things. Achievements like that are hard to find in the world during his time period.