Columbus Day celebrates the day Christopher Columbus landed in Central America, October 12, 1492, which eventually led to the founding of the United States of America.
Americans began celebrating Columbus’ discovery of America in colonial days.
In 1792, many cities, including New York City, celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus sailing to the Americas.
In 1892, President Harrison issued a proclamation in honor of the 400th anniversary of Columbus discovering America, which stressed the importance of citizens celebrating Columbus Day. He considered it important for Americans to honor Columbus and show “their appreciation of the great achievements of the four completed centuries of American life.” That year also began the teaching of the ideals of patriotism, such as the importance of loyalty to the nation, during Columbus Day rituals.
In 1907, Colorado became the first state in the union to make Columbus Day an official state holiday. As a result of lobbying efforts of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian in Denver, the Colorado governor proclaimed the first statewide Columbus Day holiday in 1907.
In 1937, Columbus Day became a federal holiday when President Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 as Columbus Day. This was a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, and various Italian leaders in local communities.
On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Columbus Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend for federal employees. The change moved Columbus Day from its traditional October 12 date to the second Monday in October. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971.
Was a three-day weekend for federal employees the real reason behind the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, since it didn’t include all federal holidays? A review of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act debate of 1968 in the Congressional Record clearly shows that supporters of the bill were intent on moving federal holidays to Mondays to promote business. Nothing is more important than corporate America’s bottom line.
Christopher Columbus holidays have been celebrated around the world since the late 18th century.
Many countries in Central and South America celebrate the landing of Columbus in the New World (the Americas and a few surrounding islands), but with different names. In Spanish, the most common name for the celebration (also in some U. S. Latin American communities) is the Día de la Raza (“day of the race” or “day of the [Hispanic] people”).
Argentina first celebrated the date in 1917 (now called Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural [Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity]), Venezuela and Colombia began celebrating in 1921, Chile began celebrating in 1922, and Mexico first celebrated in 1928. Spain celebrated Día de la Raza until it was changed to Día de la Hispanidad (“Hispanicity Day”) in 1957. In 2002, Venezuela changed the name of the celebration to Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance). Originally created as a celebration of Hispanic influence in the Americas, Día de la Raza is now seen by indigenous activists throughout Latin America as a celebration of the native races and cultures and of the resistance against the arrival of Europeans in the Americas.
In the Bahamas, October 12th is celebrated as Discovery Day. Belize and Uruguay celebrate Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas).
Italy has celebrated Giornata Nazionale di Cristopher Columbus or Festa Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo since 2004.
In the U.S., Día de la Raza has been used as a mobilization tool for pan-ethnic Latino activists. Since the 1960s, La Raza has been a frequent rallying cry for Hispanic activists. The name has remained in the largest Hispanic social justice (Communist) organization, the National Council of La Raza.
THE FOUR VOYAGES OF COLUMBUS —
Europeans were accustomed to a safe land passage to China and India due to the influence of the Mongolian Empire. All that changed in 1453, when the Ottoman Turks (Muslims) defeated the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), and captured the city of Constantinople. The city was renamed Istanbul, and today is the largest city in Turkey.
By 1485, Columbus had developed a plan to sail into the Atlantic Ocean in search of a western route to Asia. He presented his plan to King John II of Portugal, which would have required the king to provide three sturdy and fully equipped ships for Columbus to use on an estimated one year sailing journey. In addition, Columbus requested he be made “Great Admiral of the Ocean”, appointed governor of any and all lands he discovered, and given one-tenth of all revenue from those lands.
The king had his experts review Columbus’ plan, and they rejected it. They thought Columbus’ 2,400 mile travel distance was significantly underestimated.
In 1488, Columbus made several appeals to the court of Portugal, but with no success. Soon after, a Portugal explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, returned from a successful voyage and announced he had successfully rounded the southern tip of Africa. Thinking this would lead to an eastern sea route to Asia, King John was no longer interested in Columbus and his plan.
Columbus then travelled to Genoa and Venice looking for a sponsor, but did not find one. He even sent his brother to visit King Henry VII of England to ask if he would sponsor his expedition, but this too proved to be unsuccessful.
Next, Columbus tried to get an audience with King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He was finally able to submit his proposal to Queen Isabella, who referred it to her experts for review. As had happened in Portugal, the Queen’s experts said Columbus substantially underestimated the distance to Asia, and recommended rejection of his proposal. Although the King and Queen agreed with their experts, they did pay Columbus an annual salary to prevent him from trying to get someone else to sponsor him. In 1489, the King and Queen gave Columbus a letter that granted him free food and lodging at any city or town in their kingdom.
In January 1492, after having conquered Granada, the remainder of Muslim Spain, Queen Isabella rejected Columbus’ proposal. However, King Ferdinand intervened and agreed to Columbus’ proposal. Later, the King would claim he was “the principal cause why those islands were discovered”.
In April 1492, Columbus was promised the rank of Admiral of the Ocean Sea and be appointed Viceroy and Governor of all the new lands he could claim for Spain if his voyage was successful. In addition, he could nominate three people for any office in the new lands, and the king and queen would choose the person for the office. Columbus would also receive 10% of all revenue obtained from the new lands, in perpetuity, and could also buy a one-eighth stake in any commercial venture in the new lands and receive one-eighth of the profits.
Columbus soon set sail on his first of four round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas, from 1492 to 1503. These voyages enabled future European explorers to colonize the American continents.
The first voyage of Columbus in 1492, ended in the Bahamas on an island he named San Salvador. Columbus thought he had landed in Japan.
As a result of Columbus’s success on his first voyage, other European countries began explorations. These countries were after the riches of the New World, as well as building trade networks and colonies, and converting the native people to Christianity while using them as labor.
Columbus’s exploits ushered in the Age of Discovery that began in the 15th century. Searching for trading locations and ports, slaves, and trade goods, Europeans began exploring the world. The most prized trading goods were spices, gold, and silver. Although Columbus had not reached Asia, he had found a New World to the Europeans, the Americas. To avoid conflict, the Catholic monarchies of Spain and Portugal needed to create a division of influence. The Pope solved this problem in 1494 with the Treaty of Tordesillas that supposedly divided the world between the two countries.
Portugal was to receive everything outside of Europe east of a line that ran approximately 800 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands. The territory was believed to include the African and Asian continents, but not the New World. Everything west of the line belonged to Spain, which was territory almost completely unknown, except for the vast majority of the American continents the Pacific Ocean islands. This arrangement resulted in the Portuguese colonization of what is now Brazil when the Portuguese navigator, Pedro Cabral, landed on the eastern coast of South America and realized it was on the Portuguese side of the dividing line.
Hoping to be able to trade like explorers did in Africa or Asia, Columbus and other explorers were at first disappointed that the Caribbean islanders had little to trade. Colonization then became the focus of the explorers. After exploring the entire continent, Spain finally found the wealth it was looking for when it found an abundant supply of gold.
In the Americas, the Spanish discovered numerous empires, including the Aztec empire in Mexico (conquered in 1521) and the Inca empire in modern Peru (conquered in 1532) as large as those in Europe. The Spanish conquistadors were able to conquer these empires with the help of large armies of indigenous Americans groups. As a result of contact with the Europeans, pandemics of diseases such as smallpox devastated the indigenous populations. As soon as Spain had established sovereignty, the extraction and export of gold and silver became the focus.
During his third voyage, Columbus had returned to Hispaniola, and in 1500 was arrested and stripped of his political offices. In his defense, he and his sons began a time-consuming series of court cases against the Spanish Crown claiming the king and queen had illegally broken the promises of their contractual obligations to Columbus and his heirs. Although Columbus died in 1506, his sons continued to pursue the cases in court. The first judgment came in 1511, and confirmed his son Diego’s position as Viceroy, but modified his powers by reducing them. In 1512, Diego resumed court proceedings, which continued until 1536. Additional disputes continued until 1790.
Columbus always maintained that each of his voyages had reached Asia, even though there was growing evidence this was not true. Perhaps this is why the American continent was named after Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci instead of Columbus.
Historians have long argued that throughout his life, Columbus always believed he had explored the eastern coast of Asia. A leftist activist that writes for progressive publications, and also author of the 1990 book The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, maintains that Columbus knew he discovered a new continent based on a document in the Book of Privileges, which Columbus finished writing in 1502 before his fourth voyage. The journals of Columbus’s third voyage call the “land of Paria” a “hitherto unknown” continent. Yet, other writings of Columbus continued to claim he had reached Asia, such as when he insisted that Cuba was the east coast of Asia in a 1502 letter to Pope Alexander VI. Columbus aso believed that South America, the “Earthly Paradise,” was located “at the end of the Orient”. The actual beliefs of Columbus remain a mystery.
In The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, the author argued that Christopher Columbus was nothing more than an imperialist focusing on conquest from his first voyage. An historian and member of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Committee wrote a book review of The Conquest of Paradise and said about the author, “he has set out to destroy the heroic image that earlier writers have transmitted to us.” He “makes Columbus out to be cruel, greedy and incompetent (even as a sailor), and a man who was perversely intent on abusing the natural paradise on which he intruded.” The author’s work is “unhistorical, in the sense that [it] selects from the often cloudy record of Columbus’s actual motives and deeds what suits the researcher’s 20th-century purposes.” The historian felt that Columbus’ supporters and detractors present a “sort of history [that] caricatures the complexity of human reality by turning Columbus into either a bloody ogre or a plaster saint, as the case may be.”
Columbus called the inhabitants of the lands he visited indios (Spanish for “Indians”), because he always believed he had reached the East Indies he set out to find, rather than a continent previously unknown to Europeans.
The First Voyage of Columbus (August 3, 1492 – March 15, 1493) —
Columbus kept a journal throughout his voyage. Before embarking on his first voyage, he wrote in his journal that he had seen the royal banners of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella planted in the city of Granada after they had conquered the Muslims at the beginning of 1492. Columbus then said that he “. . . saw the Moorish king come out at the gate of the city and kiss the hands of your Highnesses, and of the Prince my Sovereign; and in the present month, in consequence of the information which I had given your Highnesses respecting the countries of India and of a Prince, called Great Can, which in our language signifies King of Kings, how, at many times he, and his predecessors had sent to Rome soliciting instructors who might teach him our holy faith, and the holy Father had never granted his request, whereby great numbers of people were lost, believing in idolatry and doctrines of perdition. Your Highnesses, as Catholic Christians, and princes who love and promote the holy Christian faith, and are enemies of the doctrine of Mahomet, and of all idolatry and heresy, determined to send me, Christopher Columbus, to the above-mentioned countries of India, to see the said princes, people, and territories, and to learn their disposition and the proper method of converting them to our holy faith; and furthermore directed that I should not proceed by land to the East, as is customary, but by a Westerly route, in which direction we have hitherto no certain evidence that any one has gone. . .”
On August 3, 1492, Columbus officially began his voyage to hopefully discover a western route to Asia.
On October 11, 1492, Columbus wrote in his journal that, “. . . The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful . . . ”
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on the morning of October 12, 1492, land was spotted by the lookout on the Pinta. The captain of the ship verified the discovery and notified Columbus on the Santa Maria. Columbus would later claim that he had seen a light on the land several hours before the lookout did. That way, as the first person to sight land, he would collect a lifetime pension from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Columbus had landed in the Bahamas, but exactly which island he landed on has never been resolved. He named the island San Salvador. Columbus thought he had landed in Japan. There has been much speculation that the island was Watlings Island, named for the English pirate that colonized the island in the 17th century. In 1925, the island was renamed San Salvador Island because historians believed this was where Columbus landed.
When Columbus first looked on the New World, he saw an island covered with many trees, lush, beautiful vegetation, and unknown fruit in the trees. Natives, who were completely naked, came running from all parts of the island to gaze in wonder at the ships. Columbus had his ships drop anchor. He then ordered that some of the crew get in boats so they could go ashore.
When Columbus landed, he fell to his knees, kissed the earth, and tearfully thanked God. The rest of his crew did as Columbus had done. Then, Columbus got up, drew his sword, and took possession of the land in the name of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
On October 12, 1492, Columbus wrote in his journal about the natives he had seen, and said, “. . . As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us. Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk’s bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse’s tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black, which makes them appear like those of the Canaries, neither black nor white; others with white, others with red, and others with such colors as they can find. Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language. I saw no beasts in the island, nor any sort of animals except parrots . . .”
Two weeks later, Columbus explored the northeast coast of Cuba, which he thought was China, and six weeks after leaving Cuba, he landed at Hispaniola (today known as Haiti/Dominican Republic), on December 5, 1492. Columbus had turned back southeastward searching for the fabled city of Zaiton. As it turned out, this decision caused Columbus to miss Florida and his only chance of landing in North America.
The Santa María ran aground at Hispaniola and had to be abandoned. The natives allowed Columbus to leave some of his crew behind. He left 39 men at the La Navidad settlement he founded, which today is known as Bord de Mer de Limonade, Haiti.
Columbus took additional natives as prisoners and continued exploring the northern coast of Hispaniola until he met up with the Pinta on January 6, 1493. One week later, Columbus made his final stop on this voyage at the Dominican Republic. Columbus ran into some difficulties with the natives when he tried to negotiate for some supplies. He kidnapped between 10 and 25 natives and took them back to Spain with him, but only about seven or eight survived the voyage.
Columbus returned to Spain on March 15, 1493, and news of his discovery of new lands quickly spread throughout Europe.
The Second Voyage of Columbus (September 3, 1493 – June 11, 1496) —
On September 24, 1493, Columbus left the port of Cadiz to establish permanent colonies in the New World, accompanied by a fleet of 17 ships carrying 1,200 men and supplies. Also on the voyage were the new colonists, including priests, farmers, and soldiers. Columbus was implementing Spain’s new policy of establishing “colonies of settlement” that would include missions to convert the natives to Christianity. There is speculation that free black Africans may have been crew members. This would have been approximately 10 years before slave trading began.
On November 3, 1493, Columbus sighted an island he named Dominica (Latin for Sunday). Columbus continued exploring until he landed at Guadeloupe island, which he named Santa María de Guadalupe de Extremadura, after the image of the Virgin Mary at the Spanish monastery of Villuercas. He continued exploring Guadeloupe for approximately one week.
The exact route Columbus took to sail through the Lesser Antilles is unresolved. It has been speculated that Columbus turned north and named several islands in his path, including Montserrat (named Santa María de Montserrate, after the Blessed Virgin of the Monastery of Montserrat), Antigua (named Santa Maria la Antigua), St. Kitts (named for St. Christopher the patron of sailors and travelers), St. Martin (named San Martin), and St. Croix (named Santa Cruz). Other islands Columbus named included Islas de Santa Ursula y las Once Mil Virgenes (literally meaning the Islands of Saint Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins, which was shortened to the Virgin Islands).
Columbus then sailed through the Greater Antilles where he landed at Puerto Rico (named San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist). The name of San Juan was later used to name the capital city of Puerto Rico.
On November 22, 1493, Columbus returned to Hispaniola to visit the settlement he had founded at La Navidad on his first voyage when he left 39 crew members behind as the first colonists in the New World. When he arrived at the settlement, Columbus found it had been destroyed by the Taino natives, and 11 of the 39 crew members had been killed.
Columbus then sailed along the northern coast of Hispaniola until he arrived at what is now the Dominican Republic. There, he established a new settlement he named La Isabela. Unfortunately, the settlement was poorly situated and didn’t last long.
Sometime during the voyage, Columbus sent a letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella with a plan to enslave some of the natives of the Carib tribe because they were enemies of the Taíno tribe. In February 1495, Columbus decided to diobey the orders of the Queen. He captured 1,600 Arawak tribe natives that were then taken by the Carib and enslaved. Approximately 400 of the Arawaks were released because there was no room for them.
Financing the voyages was becoming problematic because Columbus was never able to find Cathay (China), or Zipangu (Japan). He had expected to establish trading posts for the Spanish Crown in the cities in Asia that had been made famous by Marco Polo. Since he was unable to participate in the lucrative spice trade, he turned to another lucrative trade that he was familiar with: slavery.
At the time, slavery was a worldwide practice, including some Indian tribes. The Portuguese had learned how profitible the slave trade was, and they had provided Columbus with his navigation training.
Columbus sent approximately 600 slaves back to Spain. Only 400 survived the trip, and half of those were sick when they arrived. Legal proceedings resulted to handle the slaves. Some slaves were released and returned to their homeland, and others ended up as galley slaves for Queen Isabella. Columbus did not understand that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were against the Portuguese slavery policy and would never adopt it for Spain.
In an effort to fulfill his promise of filling his ships with gold, which he had not found, Columbus came up with a tribute system for the natives on Hispaniola. All natives older than 14 were required to provide a specific gold quota every three months. If they did not comply, the punishment they received ended in death.
Columbus did not get a lot of gold from Hispaniola, and Europeans that were hoping to get rich quick in the “gold rush” became disillusioned. It did not prevent other Europeans from trying their luck in the gold rush. This resulted in intermarriage and assimilation of the native people into European culture while at the same time destroying their own culture. European settlers were allowed to take Indian women they had families with back to their home country.
The Third Voyage of Columbus (May 30, 1498 – November 25, 1500) —
On May 30, 1498, Columbus left the port of Sanlúcar, Spain, for his third voyage to the New World, accompanied by a fleet of six ships. Three of the ships were supply ships that sailed directly to Hispaniola. Columbus and the other three ships returned to islands in the Caribbean they had already explored, and continued searching for a western route to Asia.
As Columbus was crossing the Atlantic after leaving the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, he noticed some unexpected changes to his compass. He had discovered the phenomenon now known as “compass variation” when he noticed that the angle between North as indicated by a magnetic compass and North as measured by the position of the pole star changed with his position. He would later use his previous measurements of the compass variation to adjust his reckoning.
On July 31, 1498, Columbus sighted Trinidad. Sailing along the southern coast, he finally landed at Trinidad at Icacos Point (named Punta de Arenal) on August 2nd. Columbus spent the next couple days resupplying before exploring the Gulf of Paria, which separates Trinidad and Venezuela. After a week, Columbus landed on the South American mainland at Paria Peninsula.
Columbus observed a vast amount of fresh water flowing through the Oninoco River into the Atlantic Ocean, and determined this meant he was at a continental landmass. When he sailed into the Gulf of Paria, Columbus observed the diurnal rotation of the pole star in the sky. He incorrectly believed it meant the Earth was not perfectly round, but instead bulged out like a pear around this landmass. He even thought the landmass might be the location of the biblical Garden of Eden. He continued his voyage and sighted Tobago ( named Bella Forma) and Grenada (named Concepción).
Returning to Hispaniola on August 19, 1498, and sick with arthritis and the common eye inflamation disease in sailors, ophthalmitis, Columbus found many of the Spanish settlers in rebellion over his rules. Their claims included being misled about the riches that would be found in the New World. In proceedings at a Spanish court, Columbus and his brothers were accused of gross mismanagement by many returning settlers and sailors. As a result, Columbus ordered some of his crewmen hanged for the offense of disobedience.
Columbus was not eager to baptize the Hispaniola natives because using them as slaves was profitable. He was criticized by some in the church. A September 1498 entry in Columbus’ journal mentions the situation, “From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold …” Peace was eventually achieved between Columbus and the colonists, but at a high cost.
In 1500, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella removed Columbus as Governor of the Indies. He was arrested and returned to Spain in chains. Eventually he was freed and returned to the New World, but not as governor.
The Fourth Voyage of Columbus (May 11, 1502 – November 7, 1504) —
The fourth and final voyage of Columbus was to search for the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. On May 11, 1502, Columbus left Cadiz with his brother Bartolomeo and his 13-year-old son Fernando on his flagship Santa María, and he was accompanied by the ships Gallega, Vizcaína, and Santiago de Palos.
The first stop on the voyage was to rescue Portuguese soldiers on the Moroccan coast that Columbus had heard were under siege by the Moors.
On June 15, 1502, Columbus landed on Martinique (Martinica) island. He continued on to Hispaniola hoping to find shelter from a looming hurricane. On June 29th, Columbus landed at Santo Domingo but was denied port. The new governor ignored Columbus’ warnings about the storm. While Columbus sheltered is ships at the mouth of a river, the first Spanish treasure fleet sailed into the hurricane. Columbus’s ships sustained minor damage, but 29 of the 30 ships in the governor’s fleet were lost in the hurricane. The loss of life was substantial, with 500 being killed, including the governor. Also lost at sea was their huge cargo of gold.
On July 30th, Columbus landed at the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras. Here they were able to trade with merchants.
On August 14th, Columbus landed on the mainland near Trujillo, Honduras. After exploring the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica for two months, Columbus arrived in Panama on October 16th. While in Panama, the natives told Columbus of a way to another ocean. The leader of the natives told Columbus not to go beyond a certain point in the river. Columbus explored the surrounding area until January 1503, when he established a garrison at the mouth of a river.
On April 6, 1503, one of Columbus’s ships became stranded in the river, while at the same time the native leader attacked the garrison and damaged the ships. On April 16th Columbus left for Hispaniola, heading north.
On May 10th, Columbus sighted the Cayman Islands and named them “Las Tortugas” after the numerous sea turtles in the vicinity. A storm off the coast of Cuba caused additional damage to his ships, rendering them unable to sail. On June 25th, Columbus and his crew were stranded in Jamaica.
After being stranded on Jamaica for one year, a member of Columbus’ crew and some natives were able to paddle a canoe to Hispaniola to seek help. However, the governor sabotaged all rescue efforts of Columbus and his men because he hated Columbus. In an effort to convince the natives to continue providing supplies to him and his men, Columbus was able to obtain their continued assistance when he predicted a lunar eclipse for February 29, 1504, using astronomical charts.
On June 29, 1504, help finally arrived so Columbus and his men could return to Spain. Columbus concluded his fourth and final voyage on November 7th when he and his men arrived back in Spain.
WHO REALLY DISCOVERED AMERICA?
Christopher Columbus has always been considered the “discoverer of America,” even though he never actually set foot in America. History has since proven that Columbus was not the only person that discovered America. However, his discovery of America was the only discovery that eventually led to the formation of the country of the United States of America.
Theories abound of a Chinese settlement in the fifth century, as well as Mongol and Japanese settlement theories.
In the thirteenth century, Kublai Khan, the Mongolian emperor, sent an expedition to Japan that ultimately failed. The expedition had been caught in a violent storm and the ships had been scattered. Some of the ships made it to Peru, supposedly, where they founded the empire of the Incas. A Mongolian fleet being caught in a storm on its way to Japan, is a historical fact. However, there is no evidence that any of the ships made it to Peru, and apparently no news of such an event ever reached Asia.
The Native American tribes of the pacific northwest are thought to be of Japanese origin. How could this happen, and why Japanese and not Chinese?
There is an ocean current running from the Arctic Ocean down the east coast of Asia. This would make all Chinese ships go south. The current, called the Japan current, runs northward past the eastern coast of the Japan Islands, then curves east and south, eventually running down the west coast of North America.
Small groups of Japanese are believed to have periodically reached North America, and subsequently married some of the women. There are numerous records of Japanese shipwrecks eventually ending up on the coast of North America after having floated helplessly for months, but no records of Japanese women being onboard any of the ships. Since 1782, for instance, there have been at least 41 instances of Japanese ships reaching America, with 28 of these ships reaching America since 1850.
The first Europeans known to have discovered North America were the Vikings. Having advanced seafaring skills, the Vikings left their Scandinavian homeland to explore northern and central Europe, and European Russia. They set up communities in these areas and expanded into the British Isles, France, Sicily, the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Their methods of expansion were raiding and pillaging, as well as trading in furs, tusks, and seal fat for boat sealant. The main source of revenue for the Vikings was slave-trading.
Around the year 1000, the Viking Leif Erickson, the son of Eric the Red, set sail from Greenland (which Leif had named Markland) in search of new land to explore. After two days, land was sighted. After making land, they built dwellings and decided to stay there during the winter. There was plenty of salmon in the nearby river and lake, and they believed the soil would provide sufficient food for cattle during the cold winters.
While exploring the area during the winter, one of the Vikings discovered winewood and wineberries. In the spring, the Vikings loaded their ships with wineberries and wood and returned to Greenland. Leif named the location Vinland.
The Vikings made many trips to Vinland, but did not try to colonize it, as they had other areas such as Greenland. The trips to Vinland by the Vikings continued into the fourteenth century.
There has been no concensus as to where Vinland was geographically located. Some believe the Vikings were as far south as Rhode Island. Others believe the Vikings were at Labrador in Newfoundland, Canada.
Europeans did not return to North America until the time of Columbus, when the British sent expeditions to the New World and actually landed in America, unlike Columbus.
On March 5, 1496, King Henry VII of England signed an agreement with John (Giovanni) Cabot to explore the western hemisphere under the authority of England. Speculation was that the King disagreed with the Treaty of Tordesillas, as well as the Pope’s decision to divide the world between Spain and Portugal. Cabot, a Genoese native sailing under the English flag, tried a first voyage, but with only one ship he was unsuccessful and had to turn back.
On May 2, 1497, Cabot departed England on his second voyage for the western hemisphere, which proved to be successful. He rediscovered the North American continent, and on June 24, 1497, Cabot became the first European to land and explore the continent since the Vikings had in the 11th century. He landed in Newfoundland and then explored the coast.
In May 1498, Cabot made his third voyage to the New World. This time there was controversy as to whether he actually returned from the voyage. According to various reports, his ships were lost at sea. Recently, however, research has suggested that he did return to England two years later after exploring the coastline of Canada and the United States. He also visited the Caribbean territories Columbus had claimed for Spain.
One of the explorers inspired to sail to America following Columbus’s discoveries of new lands was the Italian Amerigo Vespucci. He was a passenger on several voyages, between 1499 and 1502, that explored South America and discovered that it extended farther south than originally thought.
Vespucci was the first person that began to question whether Columbus had actually reached part of Asia, or discovered a new continent. He documented his voyages in travel journals that were published between 1502 and 1504. Those journals enabled German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller to come to the same conclusion. In 1507 he published a world map that included a new continent named America, which was derived from Vespucci’s Latinized name “Americus”.
DENIGRATING THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS —
Since colonial times, Columbus has been viewed with admiration. In 1738, a weekly publication of debates of the British Parliament listed Columbia as the name for America. Using the name Columbus or variations of it gained great popularity after the American Revolution. It’s even used in the name of the capital of the United States, the District of Columbia. It’s also used as the name of capital cities in some states, as well as rivers.
In South American countries, the Republic of Colombia is named after Columbus. Throughout Latin America and Spain numerous cities, towns, counties, streets, and plazas have been named after him.
In 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery of the Americas seems to have marked the peak of Columbus’ popularity. Statues honoring Columbus were erected in Chicago, New York City, and other cities throughout the United States and Latin America.
Disapproval of Columbus Day began in the 19th century because the celebrations were associated with immigrants and the Knights of Columbus. Concern was that the celebrations were being used to spread Catholic influence. Today, the opposition is because of what happened to the indigenous populations of the Americas, and that did not become popular until towards the end of the 20th century.
By the time the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America came in 1992, radicals had begun vilifying Columbus’ accomplishments by changing the name of the holiday. Although this movement began in Berkeley, California, it has spread throughout the country.
A member of the radical leftist American Indian Movement, Russell Means, even claimed that Columbus “makes Hitler look like a juvenile delinquent.”
A University of Oklahoma professor’s comments about Columbus illustrated what the liberal progressives have been inaccurately saying about Columbus for years. She said, “There are plenty of other people who came and “found” the Americas before Columbus did. I think that even if Columbus isn’t necessarily important as the person to discover the new world, his voyage, and then further, Spanish and Portuguese settlements, set up a chain reaction that made the Americas what they are today. Things like slavery, the decimation of native populations, all of those things were initiated by that first contact.”
As has already been pointed out, while Columbus was not the first person to discover America, his discovery was what eventually resulted in the formation of the United States of America. This makes Columbus’s discovery of the Americas the most important discovery, even though he wasn’t the first discoverer.
Also, Columbus was not looking for the New World when he sailed on his first voyage. Having been inspired by the travels of Marco Polo, Columbus wanted to reach the Mongol ruler of China, Gran Khan, who had expressed an interest in Christianity. After carefully studying the Bible, especially the Book of Revelation, and the works of various historians, Columbus determined that Christians must be in control of the city of Jerusalem so the Antichrist could be defeated before Jesus would return. Muslims had recently completed their conquest of the Christian world, including the areas where Jesus had lived, died, and risen from the dead. Columbus thought he could use the Chinese armies to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land.
Columbus believed all his voyages had been directed by God, because God intended him to spread Christianity by sailing the Atlantic Ocean. In the Book of Prophecies, Columbus wrote a collection of Bible passages he believed were relevant to his mission of discovery. He also believed he was fulfilling the mission God had for his life.
Columbus also introduced Christianity to millions of natives in the Western hemisphere. As a result, human sacrifice and cannibalism soon stopped. New foods were introduced to Europe as a result of Columbus inspiring other explorers.
According to the author of Christopher Columbus, Mariner, “We now honor Columbus for doing something he never intended to do…. Yet we are right in so honoring him because no other sailor had the persistence, the knowledge, and the sheer guts to sail thousands of miles into the unknown ocean until he found land.”
A source frequently cited as reporting the atrocities Columbus allegedly committed was Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish priest. On one occasion, de las Casas described Spaniards driven by “insatiable greed . . . killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples,” with “the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty.” He added that systematic violence was aimed at preventing “[American] Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings.” The Spaniards “thought nothing of knifing [American] Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades,” de las Casas wrote. “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write.” Yet, in his book, Historia de las Indias, the very same book critics use to demonize Columbus, las Casas praised Columbus and said, “He [Columbus] was a gentle man of great force and spirit, of lofty thoughts and naturally inclined to undertake worthy deeds and signal enterprises; patient and longsuffering, a forgiver of injustices who wished no more than that those who offended him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled to him.”
While it’s true that European diseases had a devastating effect on the native populations, syphilis, from the native populations, had a similar effect on Europeans killing more than five million Europeans.
In 1507, more than a year after Columbus had died, the Taino native population of Hispaniola was decimated as European diseases began affecting native populations. During the next fifty years, several smallpox epidemics decreased the population from hundreds of thousands to less than five hundred.
In The Truth About Columbus, the author stated, “It is wrong also to blame Columbus for bringing genocidal microbes to kill native Americans.” He noted that the detractors “make fun of him thinking he was in the East. So was his evil plan to bring disease to wipe out the East?”
Demonizing Columbus is part of the plan to attack the foundations of Western civilization. Columbus is being attacked in the same way George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are being attacked. If American historical figures can be marginalized, they can be replaced with leftist icons to push the secular and socialist agenda of liberal progressives.
This is also a Communist plan. In 1958, Cleon Skousen, a former FBI agent, police chief, and university professor, wrote a book, The Naked Communist, based on his knowledge of Communist writings, and of their activities, through FBI informants. That book contained a list of 45 Communist goals for their plan for America to slide into Socialism as part of the Communist strategy to take over the world. On January 10, 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr., of Florida, read the list of these Communist goals into the Congressional Record.
One of the goals, Goal No. 31, states, “Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of “the big picture.” Has this been happening since the book was written?
Atrocities Attributed to Columbus and Europeans That Came After Him —
After his first voyage, Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of Hispaniola. In the middle of his third voyage, Columbus was exhausted and in poor health. In October 1499, he sent two ships to Spain to ask for a royal commissioner to be appointed to help him govern.
At the same time, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand had heard accusations of Columbus’ tyranny and incompetence. When Columbus’s request for assistance to help him govern reached the monarchs, they removed Columbus from power and replaced him with Francisco de Bobadilla.
The duties of Bobadilla, who was governor from 1500 until he died in a storm in 1502, included investigating accusations of brutality made against Columbus. He arrived in Hispaniola while Columbus was on his third voyage, and was immediately faced with complaints about Columbus’s three brothers. In 2006, a 48-page report was found in the state archive in the Spanish city of Valladolid, containing testimony from 23 people, both enemies and supporters of Columbus, about how colonial subjects were treated by Columbus and his brothers during Columbus’s seven-year rule.
According to the report, Columbus once punished a man found guilty of stealing corn by having his ears and nose cut off and then selling him into slavery. Other testimony in the report claims that Columbus congratulated one of his brothers for “defending the family” when the brother ordered a woman paraded naked through the streets and then had her tongue cut out for suggesting that Columbus was of lowly birth. In addition, Columbus’s methods for stopping native unrest and revolt were described in the document. He ordered a brutal crackdown resulting in many native deaths, then paraded their dismembered bodies through the streets to discourage further rebellion.
A Spanish historian familiar with the report said, “Columbus’s government was characterised by a form of tyranny. Even those who loved him [Columbus] had to admit the atrocities that had taken place.”
As a result of Columbus’s governance abilities, when Columbus returned to Spain from his third voyage he and his brothers were arrested and imprisoned. After six weeks King Ferdinand ordered their release. Soon after, the monarchs heard the pleas of Columbus and his brothers. Their freedom and wealth was restored, and the monarchs were persuaded to fund a fourth voyage for Columbus. He would not, however, return to being governor.
Recently, Columbus has been severely condemned. Yet, the documents used to condemn Columbus have been known for more than one hundred years.
When a new governor arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, he said, “there were 60,000 people living on this island, including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery, and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it….” Columbus had implemented a feudal system similar to what Medieval Europe had used, which resulted in approximately 98% of the native Taino people of Hispaniola being eliminated by several causes.
A major cause of death of the natives was disease, but a smallpox epidemic didn’t occur until 1519, approximately 25 years after Columbus arrived. Apparently other diseases contributed to the significant loss of life, as well as extreme overwork and loss of will to live. By 1548, less than 500 Tainos were still on the island.
Allegedly, at every landing in Hispaniola, Columbus’s soldiers were allowed to rape, kill, and enslave the natives at will. While Columbus was ill in 1495, his soldiers reportedly went on a rampage and killed 50,000 natives. When Columbus recovered, he organized a squadron of several hundred soldiers that ravaged the area by killing thousands of sick and unarmed natives.
According to an historian, “Columbus not only sent the first slaves across the Atlantic, he probably sent more slaves – about five thousand – than any other individual… other nations rushed to emulate Columbus.” The historian also pointed out that while “Haiti under the Spanish is one of the primary instances of genocide in all human history”, only one major history text he reviewed mentions Columbus’ role in it.
We will never know what really happened in regards to mistreatment of slaves and settlers during Columbus’s voyages, because there are too many contradictory accounts to know which account is accurate. However, whatever happened needs to be looked at in regards to what was going on in the world at the time these events took place. Slavery had been very popular throughout the world for centuries before Columbus set sail on his first voyage, financed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who also had slaves. Even the native people of the Americas practiced slavery among different tribes, as did many African tribes. The Vikings, which were the first Europeans to discover America, found slave-trading to be very lucrative. Their raiding and slave-trading started diminishing when the Vikings began converting to Christianity from paganism.
Remember, when Columbus left on his first voyage he was trying to find a safe route to Asia as an alternative to the land route that became treacherous to travel after the Muslims defeated the Eastern Roman Empire. He was hoping to land in China and duplicate the exploits of Marco Polo and bring back riches to Spain. He also wanted to spread Christianity.
Columbus always believed that on each of his voyages he had reached his destination of China, and also the East Indies.
When he first landed in the Americas on October 12, 1492, he and his men were greeted by natives. In his journal, Columbus wrote that he thought the natives would be good servants and could be quickly converted to Christianity.
Columbus never found the riches he expected to find, so he turned to slave trading, which he probably learned from the Portuguese that taught him navigation, to repay his benefactors because it was such a lucrative business. Why would he kill so many natives if he wanted to be profitable in the slave trade? One account says he kidnapped 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children and sent 500 of the best looking slaves back to Spain. Another account says there were 1,600 Arawak people taken captive because they were the enemy of the Taino, and they were subsequently taken by the Carib tribe. Approximately 500 were sent to Spain, but 400 were released because there was no room in the ships. When they arrived in Spain, trials were held to deal with the slaves. Some of the slaves were sent back to their native land and others were kept as slaves by Queen Isabella.
One account says that between 1494 and 1508, the Taino population on Hispaniola had been reduced by 98%, from more than three million to 60,000. Yet modern estimates place the population at 250,000 to 300,000. Another account says that during the following 50 years, several smallpox epidemics (which first occurred in 1519) reduced the population from hundreds of thousands to less than 500. If there were 60,000 Tainos in 1508, and the primary cause of death had been disease, wouldn’t people have continued to die from these diseases before smallpox epidemics began in 1519? So where did the hundreds of thousands of Tainos that died during the next fifty years come from?
In 1495, Columbus became sick during his second voyage and recovered on Hispaniola. While he was recovering, his men allegedly went on a rampage and killed 50,000 sick and unarmed (they were always unarmed) natives. When Columbus recovered, he supposedly assisted his men in killing thousands more natives. Was this in retaliation for the Tainos killing 11 of the 39 crew members Columbus left at the La Navidad settlement from his first voyage? Why would the Spaniards kill the Tainos they were using for profitable slave-trading?
The Indigenous People’s Day Movement —
To further minimize Columbus’s accomplishments, there is a movement to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on the second Monday in October, instead of Columbus Day. This is another aspect of the destructive multiculturalism. The belief is that all cultures are essentially morally equal, so there’s no justification for elevating Columbus Day over Indigenous Peoples Day.
In reality, different cultures have different values, so without morally equal values cultures cannot be morally equal. This mistake is called moral relativism. A multiculturalist will say, “Be tolerant of other cultures and give them a place at the table.” If all values are equal, how can equality be better than inequality or tolerance better than intolerance?
History shows that all civilizations are the result of dominance of other civilizations. The Middle East and North Africa were mainly Christian until conquered by the sword of Islamic invaders. African tribes were dominated by the Zulu tribe. Some European civilizations, such as the Alans, Goths, and Frisians were absorbed into more powerful forces.
Romans colonized and enslaved our European ancestors. The Romans, however, spread a superior culture and Christianity. These Europeans later spread these same values to other cultures, including the Aztec Empire in Mexico. At the time, the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of people each year on altars, ripping their hearts out while they were still alive. Natives joined with the Europeans to defeat the Aztecs and escape the horrific practices of the Aztecs.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day (also known as Native American Day) began as a way of promoting Native American culture and its history instead of Columbus’s founding of America and everything that followed.
In 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations, first mentioned the idea of replacing Columbus Day with a celebration of indigenous people of North America.
In July 1990, at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance, representatives of various Indian groups from the Americas agreed they would make 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage, as a day to promote “continental unity” and “liberation.”
The U. S. Congress had organized a “Quincentennial Jubilee” for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day, 1992, that would include, among other things, a reenactment of Columbus’s “discovery” of America with replicas of Columbus’s ships. As a result of the First Continental Conference, a “Resistance 500” task force was formed to plan protests and push the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of indigenous people. The Jubilee was cancelled.
In 1992, the task force convinced the city council of Berkeley, California (a sanctuary city for illegal aliens) to declare October 12 “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People”, and 1992 the “Year of Indigenous People.” This designation resulted in related programs in schools, libraries, and museums being implemented. Berkeley also symbolically renamed Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
In 1993, Berkeley began the annual Indigenous Peoples Day pow wow festival organized by the Indigenous Peoples Committee. The mission statement of the Committee includes the following statement, “We work to foster social justice for Native Peoples as an essential ingredient for any positive social progress in this hemisphere; to empower our constituencies to be an instrument of positive social change affecting the policies of the US and other governments and non-governmental organizations toward Native Nations.” Social justice means Communism.
In 1994, the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People was declared by the United Nations. The date chosen was August 9 so as not to upset some member nations. The International Day has been an international celebration.
Cities in the United States that have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day include the following:
In April 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota, officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day along with Columbus Day. This was followed by Seattle, Washington officially recognizing the holiday.
On April 28, 2014, Red Wing, Minnesota, replaced Columbus Day with Chief Red Wing Day to honor the city’s namesake, Hupaha-duta, the Dakota leader known as “Red Wing”.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was recognized in place of Columbus Day at Minnesota State University, Mankato, following an official vote of the Minnesota State Student Association in October 2014.
On December 15, 2014, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
On February 2, 2015, Traverse City, Michigan, recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Newstead and Village of Akron, New York, and the Akron Central School District, celebrated Indigenous People’s Day on Columbus Day in May 2015.
On August 12, 2015, St. Paul, Minnesota recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day.
On September 28, 2015, Lewiston, New York, declared the second Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In October 2015, Anchorage, Alaska, Portland, Oregon, Carrboro, North Carolina and Albuquerque, New Mexico recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
In October 2015, the governor of Alaska renamed Columbus Day “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
On October 5, 2015, San Fernando, California, recognized Indigenous People’s Day.
There have been attempts throughout the Americas to honor American Indians as part of Columbus Day, or celebrating two holidays on the same date. Protests against Columbus Day celebrations have also occurred. In Peru, the Maoist guerrilla insurgent organization Shining Path (The Communist Party of Peru) stages protests and disrupts Columbus Day parades.
Some states, including California and Texas, no longer celebrate Columbus Day as a paid holiday for government workers. Yet, they still maintain Columbus Day as a day of recognition or a legal holiday for other purposes. A few states don’t recognize Columbus Day at all.
Were There Indigenous People in the Americas?
What are indigenous people? They are people that originated in a particular region or country. Are native Americans the indigenous people of the Americas? No, because there are no people indigenous to the Americas.
The current migration model being used for how humans appeared in the New World is that they came from Asia across the land bridge of Beringia, that connected the two continents across what is now called the Bering Strait. Most experts agree the migration took place approximately 13,500 years ago, while other experts believe the migration could have occurred up to 40,000 years ago. These Paleo-Indians expanded throughout the Americas into hundreds of distinct nations and tribes. They are referred to in many creation myths of various tribes.
Columbus originated the use of the term ‘Indian” to describe the natives of the lands he explored because he thought he had arrived in the East Indies while he was searching for Asia. Initially the Americas were known as the West Indies, which now refers to islands in the Caribbean sea. Many indigenous people have embraced the name of Indian over the past two centuries after originally not accepting it. Although Indian usually does not refer to Aleuts, Inuit, or Yupiks, these people are considered indigenous people of the Americas.
THE LEGACY OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS —
Columbus’s discovery of the Americas was soon followed by Spaniards establishing colonies in the Americas. Other countries showed little interest in exploring and settling the newly discovered continent. Twemty years after Columbus discovered the New World, active colonies had been established on the four largest West Indies islands. It would be more than one hundred years before any other countries established permanent American colonies. The one exception was Portugal establishing a few small settlements in Brazil.
Soon after establishing the colonies, the Spaniards continued exploring the lands and conquered the Incas in Peru, whose empire consisted of a large portion of western South America that had been expanded through conquest and peaceful assimilation, and had the most powerful army in the area. The Spaniards also conquered the Aztecs in Mexico, who practiced human sacrifice and reported that they sacrificed 80,400 prisoners over the course of four days, and whose empire consisted of large parts of Mesoamerica that had been rapidly expanded through conquest. The Spaniard conquest was accomplished with the assistance of other local tribes. Next, the Spaniards explored the southern United States. The Spaniards were encouraged to continue their exploration expeditions by the mild climate and riches they found.
The entire world changed for the better on October 12, 1492. Prior to Columbus arriving in the New World, native tribes and civilizations followed a pattern of one of them rising to power and enslaving its neighbors until a more powerful civilization came along and did the same thing to them. This pattern continued to repeat itself. Looking at it from this perspective, the Spanish and other Europeans were just the latest civilization to rise to power and dominate the other civilizatons.
The discovery of the New World greatly influenced Europe by changing perspectives and encouraging new endeavors and modes of thought. According to a University of California at Berkeley professor and author of Coming of Age in the Milky Way , the explorations “opened up the human imagination,” and prompted an “expansion in the cosmos of the mind.”
The author of Story of Civilization wrote about the aftermath of Columbus’s explorations and remarked, “Industry was stimulated in Western Europe, and demanded the mechanical inventions, and better forms of power, that made the Industrial Revolution. Christianity was spread over a vast hemisphere.” At the same time, “The European intellect was powerfully moved by the revelation of so many peoples, customs, and cults,” which resulted in the Age of Enlightenment. In addition, “all limits were removed; all the world was open; everything seemed possible. Now, with a bold and optimistic surge, modern history began.”
Columbus had created the beginning of the modern age, and, simply put, civilization wouldn’t be where we are today without Columbus.