January 1, 1492 - Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451, during his childhood his father was a weaver and a merchant. When Columbus became a teenager, he got a job on a merchant ship for trading. The job made Columbus travel for mass amounts of time. While out at sea, pirates attacked Columbus’s ship on the coast of Portugal, and the boat sank. Columbus managed to float to shore on a piece of wood until he arrived in Lisbon, Portugal. When he was there, he began to grow his education in mathematics, astronomy, cartography, and navigation, which would help him later in life. With all of this knowledge, Columbus came up with a plan to reach the Indies. Columbus planned to go a different way around the world. When in Portugal, Columbus tried to get royal patronage for this voyage. The royal patronage was so that he could make it to the Indies and gain more wealth for the trade that was going on. This voyage failed, so Columbus went to the French and English courts, but they denied Columbus’s request, he found himself in Spain with no one to support his voyage. Finally, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella decided to back his expedition. On August 3, 1492, Columbuses fleet of 3 ships set sail.


The Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña began there voyage across the Atlantic ocean in hopes of finding the Indies. The route to the Indies was very long and time consuming, Columbus wanted to make a quicker way to get to these islands. Columbus decided to travel west across the Atlantic ocean instead of around the large African continent. Columbus thought by doing this that he would be able to travel to the Indies quicker. This plan made sense to the people at the time, but his math was very incorrect. Columbus convinced everyone that the circumference of Earth was much smaller than they previously believed. With this information, Columbus persuaded everyone that this journey was possible. Columbus wanted fame and money from this exploration, which Spain was also very interested in. Columbus was able to sign a contract with Spain’s rulers for 10 percent of the valuables he found, a very noble title, and governorship of the land that he discovers. On October 12, the three ships were able to find land, but it wasn’t what they were expecting. When the vessels arrived, they thought that they arrived at the East Indies, but this was very wrong. The ships landed on one of the Bahamian Islands, which people think was most likely San Salvador.


Landing on these Islands caused a lot of confusion, they didn’t know they were in the wrong place, and they were searching for something that didn’t exist. For months, Christopher Columbus sailed throughout what we know as the Caribbean Islands. Columbus searched for the valuables that he had promised to bring back to the rulers in Spain, but Columbus was unsuccessful. In January 1493, Columbus left dozens of men behind in a settlement on Hispaniola. Columbus did this when he left for Spain. Six months later, in September 1493, Columbus returned. He discovered that the settlement in Hispaniola was destroyed; he left his brothers and crew to rebuild this settlement. Columbus continued to head west for his search of these valuables, with a large group of indigenous people he had enslaved. Columbus was unsuccessful since he did not find the valuables he promised, Columbus sent 500 slaves to Queen Isabella. Queen Isabella was horrified by this gift, and Isabella returned it to Columbus immediately. Columbus had to find a way to repay the Queen for the riches that he promised her.


In May 1498, Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic ocean for the third time. Columbus returned to the Hispaniola settlement and found a bloody revolt from the colonist against the Columbus brothers. The governing conditions were so bad that the Spanish sent a new governor to take over. During this, the Taino population was forced to search for gold by Columbus, but they were killed. Only a couple hundred of the 250,000 survived, Christopher Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain for the horrific events that occurred. In 1502, Columbus persuaded the Spanish rulers for one final trip. During this trip, Columbus made it to Panama, which was miles away from the Pacific Ocean. When he arrived he abandoned two ships, Columbus was empty and finally returned to Spain. Columbus died four years after his last voyage. Christopher Columbus changed history forever by discovering the Americas. Columbus was one of the most achieved explorers of his time even if he did not know it. Columbus finding the wrong island still made him one of the most impactful men in history. We are able to see through Columbus how sometimes mistakes are amazing.

By Will Kistler