The straight dope about the man, facts they don’t teach in government schools.
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really “discover” the so-called New World—millions of people already lived there—his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of exploration and colonization of North and South America.
Christopher Columbus, the son of a wool merchant, is believed to have been born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451. When he was still a teenager, he got a job on a merchant ship. He remained at sea until 1476, when pirates attacked his ship as it sailed north along the Portuguese coast.
The boat sank, but the young Columbus floated to shore on a scrap of wood and made his way to Lisbon, where he eventually studied mathematics, astronomy, cartography and navigation. He also began to hatch the plan that would change the world forever.
At the end of the 15th century, it was nearly impossible to reach Asia from Europe by land. The route was long and arduous, and encounters with hostile armies were difficult to avoid. Portuguese explorers solved this problem by taking to the sea: They sailed south along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope.
But Columbus had a different idea: Why not sail west across the Atlantic instead of around the massive African continent? The young navigator’s logic was sound, but his math was faulty. He argued (incorrectly) that the circumference of the Earth was much smaller than his contemporaries believed it was; accordingly, he believed that the journey by boat from Europe to Asia should be not only possible, but comparatively easy via an as-yet undiscovered Northwest Passage.
He presented his plan to officials in Portugal and England, but it was not until 1492 that he found a sympathetic audience: the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.
Columbus wanted fame and fortune. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted the same, along with the opportunity to export Catholicism to lands across the globe. (Columbus, a devout Catholic, was equally enthusiastic about this possibility.)
Columbus’ contract with the Spanish rulers promised that he could keep 10 percent of whatever riches he found, along with a noble title and the governorship of any lands he should encounter.
Today, Columbus has a controversial legacy—he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.
The consensus view on Columbus the man is, and has been for many years, that he was in fact something of a grubby, treacherous little prick. I like the guy anyway, though, seeing as how the mere mention of his name usually reduces shitlibs to frothing paroxysms of rage, almost all of it centered on the “genocide” he unleashed on “Native Americans,” ie, the Red Injun. But the fact is, Columbus never even set foot on what we today know as American soil, thus never “genocided” any American Injuns, nor even set eyes on one to my knowledge. More little-known facts, randomly plucked from both hither and yon. First, the hither:
3. He Was a Cheapskate
On his famous 1492 voyage, Columbus had promised a reward of gold to whoever saw land first. A sailor named Rodrigo de Triana was the first to see land on October 12, 1492: a small island in the present-day Bahamas Columbus named San Salvador. Poor Rodrigo never got the reward, however: Columbus kept it for himself, telling everyone he had seen a hazy sort of light the night before. He had not spoken up because the light was indistinct. Rodrigo may have gotten hosed, but there is a nice statue of him sighting land in a park in Seville.
4. Half of His Voyages Ended in Disaster
On Columbus’ famed 1492 voyage, his flagship the Santa Maria ran aground and sank, causing him to leave 39 men behind at a settlement named La Navidad. He was supposed to return to Spain loaded with spices and other valuable goods and knowledge of an important new trade route. Instead, he returned empty-handed and without the best of the three ships entrusted to him. On his fourth voyage, his ship rotted out from under him and he spent a year with his men marooned on Jamaica.
5. He Was a Terrible Governor
Grateful for the new lands he had found for them, the King and Queen of Spain made Columbus governor in the newly-established settlement of Santo Domingo. Columbus, who was a fine explorer, turned out to be a lousy governor. He and his brothers ruled the settlement like kings, taking most of the profits for themselves and antagonizing the other settlers. Although Columbus instructed his settlers to make sure that the Tainos on Hispaniola be protected, during his frequent absences, the settlers rampaged the villages, robbing, raping, and enslaving. Disciplinary actions by Columbus and his brother were met with open revolt.
It got so bad that the Spanish crown sent an investigator, who took over as governor, arrested Columbus, and sent him back to Spain in chains. The new governor was far worse.
8. He Never Believed He Had Found a New World
Columbus was looking for a new passage to Asia… and that’s just what he found, or so he said until his dying day. In spite of mounting facts that seemed to indicate that he had discovered lands previously unknown, he continued to believe that Japan, China and the court of the Great Khan were very close to the lands he had discovered. Isabella and Ferdinand knew better: the geographers and astronomers they consulted knew the world was spherical and estimated that Japan was 12,000 miles from Spain (correct if you go by ship heading eastward from Bilbao), while Columbus held out for 2,400 miles.
According to biographer Washington Irving (1783–1859), Columbus even proposed a ridiculous theory for the discrepancy: that the Earth was shaped like a pear, and that he had not found Asia because of the part of the pear that bulges out towards the stem. At court, it was the width of the ocean westward that was in question, not the shape of the world. Fortunately for Columbus, the Bahamas was located about the distance he expected to find Japan.
By the end of his life, he was a laughingstock in Europe because of his stubborn refusal to accept the obvious.
Next, the yon:
7. He was stranded in Jamaica
When Columbus sailed for the New World for the last time, shipworms gnawed parts of his fleet, forcing him to abandon two ships and land on modern-day Jamaica. He and his crew were stranded, but the native Arawak Indians welcomed them and fed them for months.
8. A lunar eclipse saved Columbus in Jamaica
As months dragged on, Columbus’ crew mutinied, robbed and murdered some of the Arawaks. To quell the chaos, Columbus pretended to bring down the wrath of God. He had a copy of an astronomical almanac, which predicts a total lunar eclipse. Three days before the celestial event, Columbus requested an audience with the Arawak chief, saying that his God was angry for the lack of provisions for his men and that he would send a sign of his displeasure.
True enough, the moon turned a blood-red colour and terrified the natives. The Arawaks asked Columbus to intercede, promising to provide for them if his God restores the moon. Columbus pretended to pray in his cabin and emerged only when the eclipse has subsided. The Arawaks then provided for them until a caravel from Hispaniola arrived to fetch them.
9. Columbus didn’t prove that the Earth was round
Many credit the discovery of a round Earth to Columbus, but he wasn’t the first to prove it. Humans have known that the Earth was round since ancient Greece, so this wasn’t a surprising fact, even for Christopher Columbus. The Greeks observed the movements of the sun and other planetary properties to conclude that the Earth was a sphere. What he wanted to do was to create a sea route across the Atlantic towards Asia.
11. He miscalculated the Earth’s circumference
It’s a little-known fact that Christopher Columbus had many miscalculations during his journeys. He underestimated the circumference of the Earth by 25%. Also, his estimate of the naval distance to Marco Polo’s great port of Cathay was inaccurate.
12. His famous ships had nicknames
Columbus’ ships are known as Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, but the first two are likely nicknames. In Columbus’ time, it was custom to name ships after saints and then give them a simpler moniker. The real name of Niña was Santa Clara, while Santa Maria’s nickname was La Gallega, after Galicia, where it was built. Pinta’s real name is unknown.
17. His death caused three decades of legal proceedings
When Columbus died, his heirs filed lawsuits known as the Pleitos colombinos against the Crown of Castile and Leon to assert the rewards for discovering the New World for Spain. Legal proceedings lasted three decades until the Crown granted honorific titles to Columbus’ grandson.
Whatever his personal flaws and failings, Christopher Columbus was inarguably a most intriguing man, as all great explorers tend to be. My own fondness for him dates back to my NYC days, when every Fall the annual controversy over the Columbus Day Parade would predictably erupt like a modern-day Mt Vesuvius. In one corner: Kid Shitlib, spluttering hysterically for all the stale reasons you’d expect. In the other: Dago Red, who had long since adopted Columbus as the symbolic Trevi Fountain from whence springs all Italian-American heritage, history, and pride.
Oh, but the yearly battle over the big Columbus Day Parade was epic, with Kid Shitlib rope-a-doping in hopes of permanently ending this shameful celebration of racism, imperialism, slavery, and genocide through legal and political maneuvering. Meanwhile, the pugnacious Dago Red would charge doggedly straight into the fray, vowing that if the City didn’t fund, manage, and endorse the shindig officially this year, they’d do it all themselves and to hell with everybody. Which, I’m sure they would have at that, if only for spite, and more power to ’em.
On the glorious day itself, the Eyeties would emerge en masse from their Mulberry Street enclave to march alongside the Parade as it wound its way along Fifth Ave, their backs straight and jaws jutting in open challenge to the shitlib pussies to man up and start some shit. The shitlibs, in keeping with their own rich Columbus Day tradition, would limit expression of their disapproval and protest to weeping piteously in terror, pleading for mercy from the intimidating Wop palookas enjoying the parade, flapping their noodle-like arms in frustration, then speedily retiring further uptown to take part in the annual public beat-off contest on the steps of Saint Ignatius Loyola church.
Yep, those were the days alright.
Update! Because OF COURSE he did.
On Monday, Ron DeSantis did something which surely steamed the Left.
Florida’s governor signed a proclamation honoring Columbus Day.
“Columbus Day commemorates the life and legacy of the Italian explorer who made Europeans conscious of the existence of the New World,” he observed, “and whose travels opened the door for the development of European settlements in the Western Hemisphere, which would ultimately lead to the establishment of the United States of America.”
That ain’t even the half of it, as you will find out when you click on over and read the rest.