Today in History, March 5, 1496:
English King Henry VII issues letters patent to Italian navigators John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) and his son Sebastian, sponsoring them for explorations.
“…free authority, faculty and power to sail to all parts, regions and coasts of the eastern, western and northern sea, under our banners, flags and ensigns, with five ships or vessels of whatsoever burden and quality they may be, and with so many and with such mariners and men as they may wish to take with them in the said ships, at their own proper costs and charges, to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians.”
John would find Newfoundland in North America, initiating future settlements in North America. The Vikings and Columbus came before the Cabots, but their explorations bore fruit for England.
Today in History, October 12: 1492 – Three ships, the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, commanded by Christopher Columbus, discover the New World. Columbus went ashore on one of the Bahama Islands and claimed it for his sponsors, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. He continued on to find Cuba and Hispaniola in the days ahead, which he thought were Cathay (China) and Japan respectively. The expedition believed they had accomplished their mission of finding a western trade route to the far east. He would bring back riches to Spain that would set off a competition for new lands in the New World by the major powers of Europe.
Millions would die in the years to come due to disease brought on by the meshing of multiple cultures who had no immunity to each other. Also due to the Europeans using the indigenous peoples as slave labor.
Should we honor Columbus and his contemporaries as heroes? Or demonize them for their abuses? It is possible to recognize both. History is what it is and should be studied that way.
Columbus, the Vikings, Hudson, Magellen, etc, etc. The Americas were going to be discovered and settled by what were then foreigners.
The atrocities which occurred did not have to have occurred. Columbus statues should not be removed…they are history. Instead, lets also recognize people who have previously been forgotten to history whose stories are just as important.