For generations, Christopher Columbus was hailed as the discoverer of the Americas. In recent years, some have downplayed this discovery. After all, the Native Americans, Aztec, and Mayans had all been living in the Americas and did not want or need to be "discovered." Furthermore, it's clear that the Vikings had visited the far northern part of America long before Columbus. Despite these points, Columbus' accidental discovery of the Americas undeniably changed world history. His willingness and ability to sail into uncharted waters and successfully return cemented his reputation as one of the world's greatest explorers.
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. He spent his early years there, but after setting out to sea, he found himself in Portugal. Columbus was determined to find a route to the Orient by sailing west. Contrary to popular belief, Columbus thought the Earth was smaller and believed the best way to reach Asia was by crossing the Atlantic. However, he couldn't gain the Portuguese support for his expedition.. Learn about the early life of Columbus
In Spain, Columbus's proposal to sail westward received a more favorable response. After thorough discussions, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella endorsed Columbus's plan. They funded an expedition, providing him with three ships to journey westward..
Learn about Columbus's time in Spain before his voyage
On August 3, 1492, Columbus set sail from Palos with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. After a brief stop at the Canary Islands, he headed west. On October 12, 1492, they sighted land—San Salvador in the Caribbean. Mistakenly, Columbus believed he had reached the coast of China. He further explored parts of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola, where he established the settlement of La Navidad. Columbus returned to Portugal on March 4, 1493, and finally reached Spain on March 15th.
Learn About Columbus's First Voyage
On September 24, 1493, Columbus embarked on another journey. Armed with 17 ships and 1,000 men, his intent was to colonize the regions he had discovered. During this voyage, he explored many Caribbean islands, yet found no signs of China. Learn About Columbus's Second Voyage
On May 30, 1498, Columbus sailed with six ships. This voyage marked his first exploration of South America. Despite his discoveries, Columbus was consistently disappointed by not finding a passage to China—a route he was certain existed. More about Columbus's Third Voyage
On May 11, 1502, Columbus commenced his final voyage to the New World, aiming to discover a route to India. He focused on exploring the Central American coast, particularly around present-day Panama, hoping to find a passage. Upon returning to Spain, Columbus remained convinced that he had been close to finding the path to the Orient.Learn About Columbus's Fourth Voyage
Today there is more of an attempt to teach about Columbus from the perspective of the Natives. Here is an excerpt from a new novel that does just that Columbus and Caonabó: 1493–1498 Retold