Today is Columbus Day. Growing up it was an important holiday but now Columbus is being derided for all of his various faults. My son, who is in the 8th grade and has an extremely inspiring history teacher, came home and told me that “Mrs. M does not think we should celebrate Columbus Day.” He went on to tell me that Leif Erickson actually discovered America and that Columbus spread disease and tortured Native Americans.
What he didn’t say was that Columbus also demanded tribute from the Indians, stole their gold, enslaved some of the Indians and brought them back to Spain as objects of curiosity. He also didn’t discuss the brutality and all of the other negative things that can be brought up about Columbus. Thank heavens!
Those who pooh-pooh Columbus bring up the fact that most educated Europeans in the late 15th century knew that the world was a sphere and not flat. But the fact was, like the great inventors and explorers of humanity, Columbus took theoretical knowledge and applied it. Yes, there were some professors in the universities of the time talking about astronomy and geography, and postulating a variety of theories. Columbus took that theory and said that he was going to discover a shorter route from Europe to India to get at the spices, gold and other valuable items less expensively and safer than going around the Cape of Africa. While the intelligentsia was simply talking, Columbus was doing.
Leif Erickson, obviously a great Viking explorer, went from Northern Europe to North America more than 400 years before Columbus. He simply went home and did nothing about it. On the other hand Columbus, not only the adventurer and Read more