About Columbus Day

Before we step in Columbus Day, let’s throw some light on who this Christopher Columbus was, and how did he become famous.

Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, in a middle class family. Taking birth in such a society means one has to learn his living at a very early age. Well, Columbus first went to sea at an early age of 10!

In 1470,Columbus had a ship wreck in the coasts of Portugal. Thereafter, he resided in that country itself, and undertook different voyages, extending as far as Iceland. But his deep internal desires had far greater boundary. He believed that the world is round, and hence, he would be able to find a shorter route to countries like India and China, than the one found by the great Marco Polo 200 years before him. He wanted to find the route by sailing west, opposite to what known to people at that time.

Columbus put forward his proposal to King John II of Portugal, sometime in 1485. He asked funding for his venture of finding new route and land. He required three good ships, and provision for about 5 weeks. However, the advisors thought that the journey would take much longer and dismissed his plea.

Three years down the line, Columbus approached the throne of Spain. King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I was at the helm of affairs then. By that time Portugal had lost all interest in exploration of the west, as Bartholomew had successfully sailed around the top of Africa. Again his proposal was put to the advisory board, and the feedback from the board was similar to the one he received from Portugal. However, the board or the king did not want Columbus to approach any other country, so he was given an annual salary and free food anywhere in the country.

But such trivial compensation would not satisfy Columbus. He tried frantically and managed to privately fund half of the expenses. For the other half, he approached the court again, with some conditions. Finding new land meant the title ‘Admiral of the Ocean Sea’ should be bestowed on him. He would also be the Governor of the newly found lands, and be entitled of 10% of the proceeds of those lands. Finally, Ferdinand agreed, and Columbus set sails on the 3rd of August, 1492. His three ships were the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. It was a daring journey to unknown seas.

Two months passed by and yet there was no sight of land. His estimate had already overshot by great margins. His crew began to revolt against his decisions. But he urged on, trying to pacify his crew with his confidence. Finally, on October 12th, 1492, he spotted land, which he christened San Salvador. He thought he had reached India, and promptly called the natives ‘Indians’ there. But actually, he had reached America. Thus, America was discovered.

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