The First New World Voyage of Christopher Columbus (1492)
European Exploration of the Americas
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- Ph.D., Spanish, Ohio State University
- M.A., Spanish, University of Montana
- B.A., Spanish, Penn State University
How was the first voyage of Columbus to the New World undertaken, and what was its legacy? Having convinced the King and Queen of Spain to finance his voyage, Christopher Columbus departed mainland Spain on August 3, 1492. He quickly made port in the Canary Islands for a final restocking and left there on September 6. He was in command of three ships: the Pinta, the Niña, and the Santa María. Although Columbus was in overall command, the Pinta was captained by Martín Alonso Pinzón and the Niña by Vicente Yañez Pinzón.
First Landfall: San Salvador
On October 12, Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the Pinta, first sighted land. Columbus himself later claimed that he had seen a sort of light or aura before Triana did, allowing him to keep the reward he had promised to give to whoever spotted land first. The land turned out to be a small island in the present-day Bahamas. Columbus named the island San Salvador, although he remarked in his journal that the natives referred to it as Guanahani. There is some debate over which island was Columbus’ first stop; most experts believe it to be San Salvador, Samana Cay, Plana Cays or Grand Turk Island.
Second Landfall: Cuba
Columbus explored five islands in the modern-day Bahamas before he made it to Cuba. He reached Cuba on October 28, making landfall at Bariay, a harbor near the eastern tip of the island. Thinking he had found China, he sent two men to investigate. They were Rodrigo de Jerez and Luis de Torres, a converted Jew who spoke Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic in addition to Spanish. Columbus had brought him as an interpreter. The two men failed in their mission to find the Emperor of China but did visit a native Taíno village. There they were the first to observe the smoking of tobacco, a habit which they promptly picked up.
Third Landfall: Hispaniola
Leaving Cuba, Columbus made landfall on the Island of Hispaniola on December 5. Indigenous people called it Haití but Columbus referred to it as La Española, a name which was later changed to Hispaniola when Latin texts were written about the discovery. On December 25, the Santa María ran aground and had to be abandoned. Columbus himself took over as captain of the Niña, as the Pinta had become separated from the other two ships. Negotiating with the local chieftain Guacanagari, Columbus arranged to leave 39 of his men behind in a small settlement, named La Navidad .
Return to Spain
On January 6, the Pinta arrived, and the ships were reunited: they set out for Spain on January 16. The ships arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, on March 4, returning to Spain shortly after that.
Historical Importance of Columbus' First Voyage
In retrospect, it is somewhat surprising that what is today considered one of the most important voyages in history was something of a failure at the time. Columbus had promised to find a new, quicker route to the lucrative Chinese trade markets and he failed miserably. Instead of holds full of Chinese silks and spices, he returned with some trinkets and a few bedraggled Indigenous people from Hispaniola. Some 10 more had perished on the voyage. Also, he had lost the largest of the three ships entrusted to him.
Columbus actually considered the Indigenous people his greatest find. He thought that a new trade of enslaved people could make his discoveries lucrative. Columbus was hugely disappointed a few years later when Queen Isabela, after careful thought, decided not to open the New World to the trading of enslaved people.
Columbus never believed that he had found something new. He maintained, to his dying day, that the lands he discovered were indeed part of the known Far East. In spite of the failure of the first expedition to find spices or gold, a much larger second expedition was approved, perhaps in part due to Columbus’ skills as a salesman.
Herring, Hubert. A History of Latin America From the Beginnings to the Present. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962
Thomas, Hugh. "Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire, from Columbus to Magellan." 1st edition, Random House, June 1, 2004.
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The Ages of Exploration
Christopher columbus, age of discovery.
He is credited for discovering the Americas in 1492, although we know today people were there long before him; his real achievement was that he opened the door for more exploration to a New World.
Name : Christopher Columbus [Kri-stə-fər] [Kə-luhm-bəs]
Birth/Death : 1451 - 1506
Nationality : Italian
Birthplace : Genoa, Italy
Christopher Columbus leaving Palos, Spain
Christopher Columbus aboard the "Santa Maria" leaving Palos, Spain on his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. The Mariners' Museum 1933.0746.000001
Introduction We know that In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. But what did he actually discover? Christopher Columbus (also known as (Cristoforo Colombo [Italian]; Cristóbal Colón [Spanish]) was an Italian explorer credited with the “discovery” of the America’s. The purpose for his voyages was to find a passage to Asia by sailing west. Never actually accomplishing this mission, his explorations mostly included the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America, all of which were already inhabited by Native groups.
Biography Early Life Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, part of present-day Italy, in 1451. His parents’ names were Dominico Colombo and Susanna Fontanarossa. He had three brothers: Bartholomew, Giovanni, and Giacomo; and a sister named Bianchinetta. Christopher became an apprentice in his father’s wool weaving business, but he also studied mapmaking and sailing as well. He eventually left his father’s business to join the Genoese fleet and sail on the Mediterranean Sea. 1 After one of his ships wrecked off the coast of Portugal, he decided to remain there with his younger brother Bartholomew where he worked as a cartographer (mapmaker) and bookseller. Here, he married Doña Felipa Perestrello e Moniz and had two sons Diego and Fernando.
Christopher Columbus owned a copy of Marco Polo’s famous book, and it gave him a love for exploration. In the mid 15th century, Portugal was desperately trying to find a faster trade route to Asia. Exotic goods such as spices, ivory, silk, and gems were popular items of trade. However, Europeans often had to travel through the Middle East to reach Asia. At this time, Muslim nations imposed high taxes on European travels crossing through. 2 This made it both difficult and expensive to reach Asia. There were rumors from other sailors that Asia could be reached by sailing west. Hearing this, Christopher Columbus decided to try and make this revolutionary journey himself. First, he needed ships and supplies, which required money that he did not have. He went to King John of Portugal who turned him down. He then went to the rulers of England, and France. Each declined his request for funding. After seven years of trying, he was finally sponsored by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.
Voyages Principal Voyage Columbus’ voyage departed in August of 1492 with 87 men sailing on three ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Columbus commanded the Santa María, while the Niña was led by Vicente Yanez Pinzon and the Pinta by Martin Pinzon. 3 This was the first of his four trips. He headed west from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean. On October 12 land was sighted. He gave the first island he landed on the name San Salvador, although the native population called it Guanahani. 4 Columbus believed that he was in Asia, but was actually in the Caribbean. He even proposed that the island of Cuba was a part of China. Since he thought he was in the Indies, he called the native people “Indians.” In several letters he wrote back to Spain, he described the landscape and his encounters with the natives. He continued sailing throughout the Caribbean and named many islands he encountered after his ship, king, and queen: La Isla de Santa María de Concepción, Fernandina, and Isabella.
It is hard to determine specifically which islands Columbus visited on this voyage. His descriptions of the native peoples, geography, and plant life do give us some clues though. One place we do know he stopped was in present-day Haiti. He named the island Hispaniola. Hispaniola today includes both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In January of 1493, Columbus sailed back to Europe to report what he found. Due to rough seas, he was forced to land in Portugal, an unfortunate event for Columbus. With relations between Spain and Portugal strained during this time, Ferdinand and Isabella suspected that Columbus was taking valuable information or maybe goods to Portugal, the country he had lived in for several years. Those who stood against Columbus would later use this as an argument against him. Eventually, Columbus was allowed to return to Spain bringing with him tobacco, turkey, and some new spices. He also brought with him several natives of the islands, of whom Queen Isabella grew very fond.
Subsequent Voyages Columbus took three other similar trips to this region. His second voyage in 1493 carried a large fleet with the intention of conquering the native populations and establishing colonies. At one point, the natives attacked and killed the settlers left at Fort Navidad. Over time the colonists enslaved many of the natives, sending some to Europe and using many to mine gold for the Spanish settlers in the Caribbean. The third trip was to explore more of the islands and mainland South America further. Columbus was appointed the governor of Hispaniola, but the colonists, upset with Columbus’ leadership appealed to the rulers of Spain, who sent a new governor: Francisco de Bobadilla. Columbus was taken prisoner on board a ship and sent back to Spain.
On his fourth and final journey west in 1502 Columbus’s goal was to find the “Strait of Malacca,” to try to find India. But a hurricane, then being denied entrance to Hispaniola, and then another storm made this an unfortunate trip. His ship was so badly damaged that he and his crew were stranded on Jamaica for two years until help from Hispaniola finally arrived. In 1504, Columbus and his men were taken back to Spain .
Later Years and Death Columbus reached Spain in November 1504. He was not in good health. He spent much of the last of his life writing letters to obtain the percentage of wealth overdue to be paid to him, and trying to re-attain his governorship status, but was continually denied both. Columbus died at Valladolid on May 20, 1506, due to illness and old age. Even until death, he still firmly believing that he had traveled to the eastern part of Asia.
Legacy Columbus never made it to Asia, nor did he truly discover America. His “re-discovery,” however, inspired a new era of exploration of the American continents by Europeans. Perhaps his greatest contribution was that his voyages opened an exchange of goods between Europe and the Americas both during and long after his journeys. 5 Despite modern criticism of his treatment of the native peoples there is no denying that his expeditions changed both Europe and America. Columbus day was made a federal holiday in 1971. It is recognized on the second Monday of October.
- Fergus Fleming, Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration (New York: Grove Press, 2004), 30.
- Fleming, Off the Map, 30
- William D. Phillips and Carla Rahn Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 142-143.
- Phillips and Phillips, The Worlds of Christopher Columbus, 155.
- Robin S. Doak, Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World (Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2005), 92.
Doak, Robin. Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2005.
Fleming, Fergus. Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration. New York: Grove Press, 2004.
Phillips, William D., and Carla Rahn Phillips. The Worlds of Christopher Columbus. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Map of Voyages
Click below to view an example of the explorer’s voyages. Use the tabs on the left to view either 1 or multiple journeys at a time, and click on the icons to learn more about the stops, sites, and activities along the way.
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Aug 3, 1492 ce: columbus sets sail.
On August 3, 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus started his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.
Geography, Human Geography, Social Studies, U.S. History, World History
On August 3, 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus started his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. With a crew of 90 men and three ships—the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria—he left from Palos de la Frontera, Spain. Columbus reasoned that since the world is round, he could sail west to reach “the east” (the lucrative lands of India and China). That reasoning was actually sound, but the Earth is much larger than Columbus thought—large enough for him to run into two enormous continents (the “New World” of the Americas) mostly unknown to Europeans. Columbus made it to what is now the Bahamas in 61 days. He initially thought his plan was successful and the ships had reached India. In fact, he called the indigenous people “Indians,” an inaccurate name that unfortunately stuck.
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October 19, 2023
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This Day In History : October 12
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Columbus reaches the “New World”
After sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sights a Bahamian island on October 12, 1492, believing he has reached East Asia. His expedition went ashore the same day and claimed the land for Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain , who sponsored his attempt to find a western ocean route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.
Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. Little is known of his early life, but he worked as a seaman and then a maritime entrepreneur. He became obsessed with the possibility of pioneering a western sea route to Cathay (China), India, and the gold and spice islands of Asia. At the time, Europeans knew no direct sea route to southern Asia, and the route via Egypt and the Red Sea was closed to Europeans by the Ottoman Empire , as were many land routes.
Contrary to popular legend, educated Europeans of Columbus’ day did believe that the world was round, as argued by St. Isidore in the seventh century. However, Columbus, and most others, underestimated the world’s size, calculating that East Asia must lie approximately where North America sits on the globe (they did not yet know that the Pacific Ocean existed).
With only the Atlantic Ocean, he thought, lying between Europe and the riches of the East Indies, Columbus met with King John II of Portugal and tried to persuade him to back his “Enterprise of the Indies,” as he called his plan. He was rebuffed and went to Spain, where he was also rejected at least twice by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. However, after the Spanish conquest of the Moorish kingdom of Granada in January 1492, the Spanish monarchs, flush with victory, agreed to support his voyage.
On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain, with three small ships, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina . On October 12, the expedition reached land, probably Watling Island in the Bahamas. Later that month, Columbus sighted Cuba, which he thought was mainland China, and in December the expedition landed on Hispaniola, which Columbus thought might be Japan. He established a small colony there with 39 of his men. The explorer returned to Spain with gold, spices, and “Indian” captives in March 1493 and was received with the highest honors by the Spanish court. He was the first European to explore the Americas since the Vikings set up colonies in Greenland and Newfoundland in the 10th century.
During his lifetime, Columbus led a total of four expeditions to the "New World," exploring various Caribbean islands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the South and Central American mainlands, but he never accomplished his original goal—a western ocean route to the great cities of Asia. Columbus died in Spain in 1506 without realizing the scope of what he did achieve: He had discovered for Europe the New World, whose riches over the next century would help make Spain the wealthiest and most powerful nation on earth. He also unleashed centuries of brutal colonization, the transatlantic slave trade and the deaths of millions of Native Americans from murder and disease.
Columbus was honored with a U.S. federal holiday in 1937. Since 1991, many cities, universities and a growing number of states have adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day , a holiday that celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans. Not by coincidence, the occasion usually falls on Columbus Day , the second Monday in October, or replaces the holiday entirely. Why replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Some argue that the holiday overlooks Columbus' enslavement of Native Americans—while giving him credit for “discovering” a place where people already lived.
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Was Christopher Columbus a Hero or Villain?
Columbus Day churns up a stormy sea of controversy every year: Was Christopher Columbus a gifted navigator or reckless adventurer?
Columbus never discovered America but his voyage was no less courageous
Even if you were to overlook the not-so-minor fact that millions of people were already living in the Americas in 1492, the fact is that Columbus never set foot on the shores of North America. In fact, October 12 marks the day of his arrival to the Bahamas. While he did reach the coasts of what today are Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, as well as explore the Central and South American coasts, he never unfurled a Spanish flag in North America. ( Leif Eriksson is the first European believed to have sailed to North America, having reached Canada 500 years before Columbus set sail to the west.)
He didn’t reached Asia as planned, but you can’t discount the sheer will required to make his journey. Beginning at the age of 41, he defied naysayers across Europe and led four voyages across an uncharted ocean in wooden sailing ships that weren’t designed to take on the punishing waters of the Atlantic.
Many already believed the world was round
By 1492, most educated Europeans already believed the earth was round. In fact, it was an idea that had been established by the ancient Greeks in the 5 th century BCE. Contrary to the popular myth, Columbus didn’t set out to prove that the world was round, but rather that it was possible to sail around it, a voyage the explorer drastically underestimated.
He had struck a lucrative deal with the Spanish
Columbus stood to gain significant wealth and power from his voyage, terms he negotiated with King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. His contract with the monarchs, called The Capitulations of Santa Fe, named Columbus the admiral, viceroy, and governor of any land he discovered. It also stated that Columbus could keep 10 percent of any “merchandise, whether pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects” that he “acquired” within the new territory. Columbus might indeed have had noble intentions when he sailed west, but his agreement with Spain suggests his intentions were far from selfless.
He enslaved and mutilated Indigenous peoples
When Columbus first set foot on Hispaniola (what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he encountered a population of Indigenous peoples called the Taino. A friendly group, they willingly traded jewelry, animals, and supplies with the sailors. “They were very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces,” Columbus wrote in his diary. “They do not carry arms or know them... They should be good servants.” The Indigenous peoples were soon forced into slavery and punished with the loss of a limb or death if they didn’t collect enough gold. Between the European’s brutal treatment and their infectious diseases, within decades, the Taino population was decimated.
He was arrested by the Spanish Government
In 1499, the Spanish monarchs got wind of the mistreatment of Spanish colonists in Hispaniola, including the flogging and executions without trial. Columbus, who was governor of the territory, was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain. Although some of the charges might have been manufactured by his political enemies, Columbus admitted to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that many of the accusations were true. Columbus was stripped of his title as governor.
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Several european countries had rejected columbus.
For nearly a decade, Columbus lobbied European monarchs to bankroll his expensive quest to discover a western sea route to Asia. In 1484, he tried unsuccessfully to get support from King John II of Portugal, whose experts believed Columbus had underestimated how far he would need to sail. Three years later, he appealed to King Henry VII of England and King Charles VIII of France but was once again turned down. He was even initially rejected by Spain in 1486, but the Spanish monarchs changed their mind and eventually agreed to fund his trip.
Good or bad, Columbus created a bridge between the old and new world
In what has become known as the Columbian Exchange, Columbus’ voyages enabled the exchange of plants, animals, cultures, ideas, and, yes, disease between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. Once the Europeans were able to reach nearly all parts of the globe, a new modern age would begin, transforming the world forever.
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Columbus reports on his first voyage, 1493
A spotlight on a primary source by christopher columbus.
On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain to find an all-water route to Asia. On October 12, more than two months later, Columbus landed on an island in the Bahamas that he called San Salvador; the natives called it Guanahani.
For nearly five months, Columbus explored the Caribbean, particularly the islands of Juana (Cuba) and Hispaniola (Santo Domingo), before returning to Spain. He left thirty-nine men to build a settlement called La Navidad in present-day Haiti. He also kidnapped several Native Americans (between ten and twenty-five) to take back to Spain—only eight survived. Columbus brought back small amounts of gold as well as native birds and plants to show the richness of the continent he believed to be Asia.
When Columbus arrived back in Spain on March 15, 1493, he immediately wrote a letter announcing his discoveries to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who had helped finance his trip. The letter was written in Spanish and sent to Rome, where it was printed in Latin by Stephan Plannck. Plannck mistakenly left Queen Isabella’s name out of the pamphlet’s introduction but quickly realized his error and reprinted the pamphlet a few days later. The copy shown here is the second, corrected edition of the pamphlet.
The Latin printing of this letter announced the existence of the American continent throughout Europe. “I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance,” Columbus wrote.
In addition to announcing his momentous discovery, Columbus’s letter also provides observations of the native people’s culture and lack of weapons, noting that “they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror.” Writing that the natives are “fearful and timid . . . guileless and honest,” Columbus declares that the land could easily be conquered by Spain, and the natives “might become Christians and inclined to love our King and Queen and Princes and all the people of Spain.”
An English translation of this document is available.
I have determined to write you this letter to inform you of everything that has been done and discovered in this voyage of mine.
On the thirty-third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. The island called Juana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health-giving rivers; and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these island are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes; easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars. . . .
In the island, which I have said before was called Hispana , there are very lofty and beautiful mountains, great farms, groves and fields, most fertile both for cultivation and for pasturage, and well adapted for constructing buildings. The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the excellence of the rivers, in volume and salubrity, surpass human belief, unless on should see them. In it the trees, pasture-lands and fruits different much from those of Juana. Besides, this Hispana abounds in various kinds of species, gold and metals. The inhabitants . . . are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror. . . . But when they see that they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection towards all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all. . . . I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatever, in order to win their affection, and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our King and Queen and Princes and all the people of Spain; and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.
Questions for Discussion
Read the document introduction and transcript in order to answer these questions.
- Columbus described the Natives he first encountered as “timid and full of fear.” Why did he then capture some Natives and bring them aboard his ships?
- Imagine the thoughts of the Europeans as they first saw land in the “New World.” What do you think would have been their most immediate impression? Explain your answer.
- Which of the items Columbus described would have been of most interest to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella? Why?
- Why did Columbus describe the islands and their inhabitants in great detail?
- It is said that this voyage opened the period of the “Columbian Exchange.” Why do you think that term has been attached to this period of time?
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10 Major Accomplishments of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) was an Italian explorer, navigator and colonist who played a key role in shaping the history of the world as it was his voyages that initiated widespread contact between the Old World, i.e. Africa, Asia and Europe ; and the New World, i.e. the Americas . Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa and lived in Portugal before eventually going on to settle in Spain . Columbus wanted to find a sea route to Asia by sailing across the Atlantic . He was not successful in his endeavor but ended up leading the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America and South America . His voyages were beneficial for Europe and made possible the colonization of the Americas. Columbus was responsible for the Columbian Exchange , an event that changed the history of mankind . There are numerous negative aspects of the effects of his voyages as well as in his personal life; like he regularly used torture and mutilation to govern Hispaniola ; he promoted slavery ; and his voyages ultimately led to the extinction of the civilizations of the Americas . However, in this article we focus on the 10 major accomplishments of Columbus.
#1 HE INDEPENDENTLY DISCOVERED THE AMERICAS
It was nearly impossible in the 15th century to head into Asia from Europe via land . The route was long and laden with hostile armies. While the Portuguese explorers were solving this quandary by sailing across the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope, Columbus put forth the notion of sailing across the Atlantic . The plans of Columbus were however based on faulty European mathematics . He calculated the circumference of the earth as much smaller than it actually was and thought that the proposed journey would be easy to complete. Though his calculations were faulty and he never discovered an alternate route to Asia , Columbus ended up independently discovering the Americas. Though he was not the first to discover the Americas , it was his voyage that redefined history and was instrumental in initiating centuries of conquest and colonization, asserting Europe’s dominance over the world.
#2 HE DISCOVERED A VIABLE SAILING ROUTE TO THE AMERICAS
Columbus started his career by serving as an apprentice to some of the most influential families in Genoa. He eventually went on to be recognized as a seagoing entrepreneur. He sailed to Iceland and Ireland with the merchant marine in 1477 and was trading sugar in Madeira by 1478 as an agent for the Genoese firm of Centurioni. Then, after years of lobbying, Columbus’s plan to discover an alternate route to Asia was sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain . They hoped that he would discover a route to China and India, that were famous for their spices and gold, among other things. Columbus left Spain in August 1492 with three ships: the Nina , the Pinta and the Santa Maria . He made landfall in the Americas on October 12, 1492 in the Bahama Islands . Though not known to him then, Columbus had reached the eastern coast of the Americas , a continent which was not then known to the Old World . Though he was not the first man to discover the Americas, Columbus did find a viable sailing route to the Americas , which was no mean achievement.
#3 HE LED FIRST EUROPEAN EXPEDITIONS TO THE CARIBBEAN, CENTRAL AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA
Christopher Columbus undertook three more expeditionary voyages from Spain to the New World. His second voyage began on 24th September 1493 with a fleet of 17 ships carrying 1,200 men . The expedition contained supplies to establish permanent colonies in the New World. In November, 1493 his crew saw land and discovered the Dominica, Guadeloupe and Jamaica islands . In March, 1496, he set sail back to Spain. On May 30, 1498, Columbus left with six ships for his third trip to the New World. In July, the same year , he landed on the island of Trinidad . He then explored the Gulf of Paria and finally touched South America . Due to bad health, he returned to Hispaniola on August 19, 1498 . The fourth voyage of Columbus began in May 1502 . During this voyage he reached Central America . He sailed back to Spain in 1504 . Columbus thus led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
#4 HIS SETTLEMENT PROVIDED SPAIN STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE FOR EXPANSION IN THE NEW WORLD
The four voyages of Columbus provided a plethora of information to the Europeans about sailing from Europe to the Americas ; as well as about the various kinds of people who resided in the New World . Apart from the information gathered from his voyages, another important repercussion of his expeditions was the island of Hispaniola . Founded by Columbus on his voyages in 1492 and 1493, Hispaniola was the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas . This ultimately aided Spain in its conquest of the west as the island’s position in the northern flank of the Caribbean Sea proved to be a strategic standpoint for the expansion of Spain to Cuba, Mexico, Panama and South America.
#5 HE MADE COLONIZATION POSSIBLE FOR SPAIN
Columbus’s efforts as an explorer set forth a chain of events that allowed Spain to establish a permanent foothold on the American continents . Spain started this by destroying the Aztecs, the Incas and the Mayan cultures , which paved way for 500 years of Western domination . In essence, Columbus’s voyages resulted in an everlasting contact between the Western and Eastern hemispheres of the world. While this resulted in the destruction of the native people of the Americas , it proved to be the basis on which our modern world is built . Led by Spain, the Europeans gained exceedingly due to the efforts of Columbus helping them prosper at the expense of their colonies and paving the way for their domination of the modern world.
#6 HE HAD A MAJOR IMPACT ON THE HISTORY OF MANKIND
Columbian Exchange is a term coined by Alfred W. Crosby in his revolutionary book The Columbian Exchange which was published in 1972 . The term refers to the widespread exchange of animals, plants, human populations, diseases, technology and ideas that occurred between Afro-Eurasia and the Americas after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World . For instance, potatoes, corn and tomatoes were introduced to the Old World. Similarly, cattle, hogs and sheep were introduced to the people of America. The Columbian Exchange is one of the most important events in the history of mankind which had a great impact on the world in numerous ways . Thus, in a way, Columbus altered the history of mankind through his voyages.
#7 COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE EXPANDED THE FOOD SUPPLY IN THE AMERICAS
Prior to the Columbian Exchange, the Old World had never seen a catfish or a tomato while the Native Americans had never seen a cow or an apple. Due to the Columbian Exchange a lot of crops and animals were introduced to both Old and New World. Crops introduced to Old World include potato, tomato, maize, cacao and tobacco . Crops introduced to New World include rice, wheat, apples, bananas and coffee . Turkey and Llama are probably the only prominent New World domesticated animals which were introduced to the Old World. However many animals were imported to the New World including horses, cows, chickens, donkeys and pigs . These animals, especially pigs because they breed very quickly, expanded the food supply in the Americas .
#8 IT ALSO CAUSED A HUGE INCREASE IN POPULATION IN THE OLD WORLD
The plants from the Americas had a huge impact on the Old World . Lives of millions of people in Africa, Europe and Asia were changed radically due to the introduction of New World crops. New World plants like potatoes and maize could grow in soils which were useless for Old World crops . Today China and India are the largest producers and consumers of potatoes in the world. Cassava provides more calories than any plant on earth and is the basic diet of more than half a million people in the developing world . As the crops from the Americas were far more caloric than Old World food it led to probably the greatest population increase the world had ever seen . Between 1650 and 1850 the population of the world doubled .
#9 HE SERVED AS GOVERNOR OF HISPANIOLA
Christopher Columbus was widely regarded as an expert navigator and maritime explorer of his time . He held many important titles and positions during his lifetime. In 1492, Columbus received the title of “Almirante mayor del Mar Oceano” which translates to “Admiral of the Ocean” . Columbus had a legal agreement with the Spanish Crown that entitled him to a percentage of their profits from his discoveries. He was also granted the viceroyalty and governorship of any lands that he might discover . Following his first voyage, Columbus was appointed Viceroy and Governor of the Indies . In effect, this meant that he was given power to administer the colonies in the island of Hispaniola. He held this title from 1492 to 1499 , after which he was dismissed due to accusations of tyranny and incompetence .
#10 HE IS REGARDED AS A MAJOR FIGURE IN SPANISH HISTORY
Christopher Columbus is regarded as one of the most prominent figures in Spanish history . His contribution has been commemorated via a monument that stands as a tall pillar pointing towards the sea in Barcelona. In addition to this, Columbus Day is celebrated in America on the second Monday of October . While he was unable to fulfil his dream of finding a new passage to Asia, Christopher Columbus’ voyages gave headway to events that shaped the world for hundreds of years . In this regard, he is considered one of the most influential explorers in history .
NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGE
Although it can’t be established certainly how many Native Americans died due to the arrival of Europeans but it is estimated that 80-95 percent died in the 150 years following the arrival of Columbus . The most affected regions lost 100 percent of their indigenous population. Though European brutality was a factor, the primary reason behind this were the diseases introduced to the New World through Columbian Exchange like smallpox, measles, malaria, typhus, chicken pox and yellow fever . Also due to the Columbian Exchange, the diversity of life on earth has diminished drastically and planting crops where they don’t belong has hurt the environment. Man and “the plants and animals that he brings with him have caused the extinction of more species of life forms in the last four hundred years than the usual processes of evolution might kill off in a million”.
27 thoughts on “10 Major Accomplishments of Christopher Columbus”
Very good exposition
Thanks for your appreciation.
columbus is def from spain
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9 Real Stops On Christopher Columbus’s Voyages
By editorial staff | oct 6, 2015.
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue … and totally missed his mark. His journey may not have gone exactly as planned, but there were some interesting detours along the way.
1. THE CANARY ISLANDS
When Columbus set sail from the Spanish port of Palos on August 3, 1492, he already had his first pit stop planned. The Niña , Pinta , and Santa Maria headed to the Canary Islands off the coast of Morocco for last-minute preparations and restocking. It's a good thing, too. By the time they arrived, the Pinta 's rudder had disconnected and the ship was taking on water. (Columbus suspected some of the crew had second thoughts about the voyage and sabotaged the vessel.) There was talk of leaving the ship behind—but what were they going to do, order another one online? The men repaired the Pinta during the layover and officially headed west on September 6.
2. SAN SALVADOR ISLAND
We know Columbus—or perhaps a sailor on the Pinta named Rodrigo de Triana—first spotted land on October 12. But what we don't know is where exactly they were. Not that there's anything wrong with that—Columbus thought he was in the East Indies! The island was definitely in the Bahamas and already inhabited by the Taino people, who called it Guanahani. Columbus named it San Salvador and recorded that it was "very flat and with very green trees" with a surrounding reef and laguna in the middle. A number of islands fit the description, but many scholars later agreed that it was probably what used to be known as Watling Island. The Bahamanian government renamed it San Salvador Island in 1925.
Columbus didn't stay put for long. After naming the small surrounding islands Santa Maria de la Concepcion, Fernandina, Isabela, and Las Islas de Arena, the fleet took off again. On October 28, Columbus and his men arrived in what they believed to be China—but was, in fact, Cuba—most likely through the Bay of Bariay. Columbus christened the island Juana after Queen Isabella's son and soon discovered the joys of tobacco. Long before Cuban cigars, the Arawaks smoked with Y-shaped nostril pipes.
After China, which was actually Cuba, Columbus set off for Japan. The trip was no pleasure cruise: On Christmas Day, the Santa Maria ran aground after hitting a reef. Columbus ordered his men to dismantle the ship and build a temporary fort called Villa de la Navidad with some "help" from the locals. Columbus headed back to Spain on the Niña a few weeks later, leaving 39 sailors behind on La Isla Española, with his mistress's cousin Diego de Arana acting as governor. When Columbus returned a year later, the fort was destroyed and all of the men were dead. Today, Hispaniola is one of only two shared Caribbean islands, split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
5. SANTA MARIA ISLAND
The journey back to Spain was miserable. After a number of storms, the crews of the Niña and Pinta disembarked in the Baía dos Anjos on Portugal's Santa Maria Island around February 15. Columbus set off seeking boat repairs while half his crew went to church (presumably to thank God they were still alive). Alas, the locals were wary of strangers after numerous pirate attacks and quickly arrested the sailors. So first Columbus lost the ship Santa Maria , and then he almost lost half his crew on Santa Maria. Fortunately, he was able to reason with the Portuguese to get the sailors released, plus to get some boat repairs. Then they finally headed home.
Columbus didn't have much to show for his adventures when he returned to Spain, but he quickly secured funding for a second voyage. Returning to the fort on Hispaniola was his first priority, but he got a little distracted. On November 3, 1493, Columbus spotted a heavily forested island and had to take a look-see. The Kalinago natives weren't very welcoming—and the Europeans thought they were cannibals—so Columbus quickly named the island Dominica and headed out to explore the neighboring tiny islands, including modern-day Antigua and Montserrat. Why did he call this new place Dominica? Because it was Sunday ( Domingo in Spanish) and, if you haven't noticed by now, Columbus wasn't especially original in the naming department.
Columbus was horrified when he finally returned to Hispaniola and found La Navidad in shambles. He and his men built a new settlement called La Isabela, which was later struck by two of the earliest hurricanes ever observed in North America in 1494 and 1495. But before the natural disasters, Columbus made his own trouble by mistreating the locals and alienating his fellow sailors, who were hungry, sick, and mutinous. When they failed to find gold, Columbus headed back to Cuba and soon found his way to St. Ann's Bay in Jamaica. The Taino natives were hostile, so Columbus continued exploring and landed at Discovery Bay, Montego Bay, and Portland Bight. He didn't find gold in Jamaica, either, so he went back to Hispaniola before returning to Spain.
Columbus later returned to—well, was shipwrecked in—Jamaica on his fourth voyage in 1503 after losing his four-boat fleet in a series of storms. He and his men were stranded for a year, until captain Diego Mendez rowed a canoe to Hispaniola. By that point, Columbus wasn't even allowed to visit Hispaniola, and it took months of negotiations before Mendez could charter a rescue caravel.
Back to the chronology! The King and Queen allowed Columbus to go on a third voyage in May 1498 to resupply the colonists on Hispaniola (before he was blacklisted) and find a new trade route. The six-ship fleet split up: three went to Hispaniola and three went to new islands. Columbus chose the latter, of course. He and his men had almost run out of drinking water when they spied three peaks in the distance. Columbus named the land Trinidad and quenched his thirst in the Moruga River.
Contrary to what many people believe, Columbus did not discover America. But he did reach South America on August 1, 1498. As he and his men gathered water in Trinidad, they spotted the coast of South America. They explored the Gulf of Paria for eight days, discovering the "Pearl Islands" of Cubagua and Margarita and reaching the Orinoco River in Venezuela. Ever wrong about geography, Columbus admired this verdant new land and concluded he'd reached the Garden of Eden. Sigh.
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In fond remembrance of Derek Len Gilliam, 68, of Columbus, OH who was called home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Derek came into this world on December 30, 1955, in Steubenville, Ohio, born to his cherished mother, Ethel Gilliam, of Weirton, WV. Derek’s journey included graduating from Weir Senior High School in 1974 and pursuing further studies at West Liberty College, where he met his future wife, Stephanie Hicks. Their union on May 31, 1975, marked the beginning of a life together that led Derek to relocate his growing family to Columbus, OH. Establishing roots, forging a career, and welcoming a son and a daughter, proved Derek’s devotion as a husband, father and all around family man.
Derek is preceded in death by his grandmother, Adele “Ma” Currenton-Jeter, mother Ethel Gilliam, brother Larry Gilliam, and beloved niece Ebony Gilliam, all of Weirton, WV. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie Gilliam of Columbus, OH. Derek also leaves behind his loving children: Shawn (ShaDonna) Gilliam of Columbus, OH and Kristen (Alex) Harper of New Albany, OH, as well as 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Siblings: Tracine, Marc and Jeffrey Gilliam. Grandchildren’s mothers: Stacy Hall, Angela James and Felecia Williams, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends to carry the torch of Derek’s prevailing love. May he find eternal peace.
EXCLUSIVE: Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Judge plans for retirement after serving for 10 years
COLUMBUS, Ga. ( WRBL ) – Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Ron Mullins has notified Governor Brian Kemp about his plans to step down after serving 10 years on the bench.
Mullins sent his retirement letter to the governor on Dec. 28, informing the Governor of his plans to leave at the end of January. WRBL spoke with Willis who said it was time.
Mullins, a Harris County native, has spent almost 50 years in the practice of law, with most of his career focused here in Columbus. Judge Mullins was originally appointed by former Gov. Nathan Deal 10 years ago at the age of 62 and is one of seven Superior Court judges in the Chattahoochee Circuit, which encompasses six different counties.
He said it has been a journey to get to this point.
“When I got out of law school, I knew next to nothing about how to practice law,” Mullins said. “And before going on the bench, I practiced law with a firm in Augusta for four years. I was with a firm here in Columbus, Kelly, Denny, Pease and Allison 11 years. We started our own firm, Ron Self, Pete Robinson and I. And then my last few years were with the firm of Page Scranton, Sprouse, Tucker and Ford. And in all those places.”
He said many people helped him along that journey.
“I wound up practicing law with men and women who were very, very good at what they did. And I learned a lot about how to practice law from those people. So, I consider myself blessed beyond measure to have practiced law with those people. And I think I was able to bring some of that to the bench.”
Mullins talked about years of legal practice prepared for the bench.
“I think the advantage was I tried a lot of cases in front of a lot of judges, and by that time I knew who the good judges were and who the bad judges were,” Mullins said. “I think I was smart enough to avoid being a bad judge. And I had enough examples of what a good judge was. And so, when I was on the bench, I aspired to emulate those people that I cared about a great deal.”
Mullins did not deal much with the criminal side of law in private practice. Once he got on the bench, he tried a number of high-profile criminal cases.
“Not having a criminal background, I was not exposed to some bad cases that were available,” Mullins said. “It opened my eyes to the fact that crime is still an issue here. It also opened my eyes to the fact that the men and women who protect us have one of the hardest jobs in the world. And I think my appreciation for those people who protect and serve us went through the roof based on what I saw from the bench.”
Georgia Appeals Court Ben Land has known Mullins for many years and served on the Superior Court bench with him.
“Ron is a good friend who served with honor and class,” Land said.
Since Mullins has planned to leave before his term expires, Gov. Kemp will appoint a temporary successor until an election is held. The Governor’s Office has not announced a time table for applications.
For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WRBL.