Columbus Day 2020

This year on Monday, October 12, we celebrate Columbus Day; the holiday commemorating when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492. This holiday honors Columbus’s achievements, but what were they? 

Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer from Genoa that navigated four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean after convincing the King and Queen of Spain that if they provided him with funds, he would bring them back more wealth than they could imagine. Columbus departed from Spain in August 1492, intending to discover a faster route to Asia, but landed in the Americas on October 12. This is why the Native Americans became known as Indians—Columbus believed he was in India. Though he was somewhat misguided, the Voyages of Discovery proved to bring numerous positive outcomes that lead to the world as we know it.

The main accomplishments of Columbus that we celebrate begin with Columbus independently discovering the Americas; however, he was not the first to discover the Americas, but his voyage redefined colonial beliefs and was crucial to the developments of Europe in America. Although he was aiming for Asia, Columbus also discovered a sailing route to the Americas. He was the first to lead Europe to South America, Central America, and the Caribbean which made way for his settlement in Hispaniola to be founded. This settlement in Hispaniola aided Spain’s expansion to the Americas providing the Spanish with necessary information to make the journey. In this way, Columbus is the reason Spain was able to colonize in the Americas. These are the most well known ways Columbus contributed, but he also had a few more not as commonly known accomplishments.

For example, Columbus impacted history immensely through his inter-workings in what Alfred W. Crosby called The Columbian Exchange. This is a book written by Crosby that details the course of intentional and unintentional trading that occurred after Columbus landed in the Americas. These centers of trade included crops introduced to the Old World (such as tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco), and crops introduced to the New World (such as wheat, coffee, rice), as well domesticated animals, technology, and culture. All of these trade centers greatly increased the population of the Old World because the new crops grew in the places that the old ones could not, providing an efficiency of food production and allowing for greater amounts of consumption by a greater population. 

Christopher Columbus was an extremely impactful man. His voyages and accomplishments created much in the way of progress and positive consequence. Although, his deeds and the holiday we celebrate can be seen with differing levels of controversy, there is no denying that positive outcomes came from his voyages. Happy Monday to you all! The Jefferson County Post wishes everyone a fantastic Columbus Day!

Source: Sophie Swann, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer