Many U.S. citizens were taught in school that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 proving for the first time in history that the Earth was indeed not a flat object. However, in her article, Why is Columbus Day Still a Federal Holiday, Valerie Strauss, of the Washington Post, purports that Columbus really hadn’t discovered America. Nor did he prove that the Earth was flat. Plus, she points out that there is also some question regarding the names of his ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
Today many in the U.S. still observe Columbus Day, so we decided to post Ms. Strauss’ article to help provide another perspective about this holiday, as a tool to help us evolve and ultimately, bring about a positive change over the debate on whether we should still keep Columbus Day or consider revising it to Indigenous Peoples Day. According to Dr. Phil’s Ten Life Laws, from his book called, Life Strategies, Life Law #4 states, “We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge” (McGraw, 2000). So, with that in mind, today we decided to post Ms. Strauss’ article, to examine a new perspective on this historical event by assessing the facts as they occurred, not necessarily as they were recorded from the victors of the conquering regimes.
Here is the rest of the article. It is our hope to inspire others to conduct their own research on this topic, to draw your own conclusions:
Why is Columbus Day still a U.S. federal holiday?
Columbus made four trips from Spain across the Atlantic — in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502 — did, however, change human history forever, ushering in what is known as the Columbian Exchange — the historic exchange of plants, animals, disease, culture, technology and people between the Old and New Worlds. The Old World, for example, got chocolate (and many other things) and the New World got wheat, along with bubonic plague, chicken pox, cholera, malaria, measles, typhoid, etc., which decimated the populations of indigenous peoples Columbus found living on the islands he “discovered.
As for Columbus himself, he mapped the coasts of Central and South America but never set foot on North America, and died thinking he had discovered Asia. He ruled the Caribbean islands as viceroy and governor so brutally that, according to US-History.com: “Even his most ardent admirers acknowledge that Columbus was self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and a racist.
Columbus has long been believed to have been born in Genoa, Italy, though some historians think he was born in Spain’s Catalonia region. He sailed for the Spanish crown, and his remains are in Spain. Italians in the United States have taken great pride in him and sponsor many of the celebrations held in his name each year to honor Italian-American heritage.
So how did we got a U.S. federal holiday in his name?
The first Columbus Day celebration recorded in the United States was held in New York in 1792 to honor Italian-American heritage and to mark Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea.
In 1892, according to History.com, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage with patriotic festivities.
In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress, bowing to lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic group that wanted a Catholic hero to be honored, proclaimed Oct. 12 to be Columbus Day, a national holiday. In 1971, the holiday date was changed to the second Monday in October.
Over recent decades, the holiday has been the target of protests at Columbus Day celebrations, and some places have changed the name and focus of the holiday. For example, Berkeley, Calif., replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992 to honor the original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands where Columbus made landfall and ruled. In 1989, South Dakota started calling the holiday Native American Day, and Alabama celebrates a combination of Columbus Day and American Indian Heritage Day. Hawaii calls it Discovery Day. In the Bahamas, it is called Discovery Day, and as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain.
Here are some things to know about Columbus:
*He didn’t prove that the Earth is round.
Kids in school have long been taught that when Columbus set sail in 1492 to find a new route to the East Indies, it was feared that he would fall off the edge of the Earth because people then thought the planet was flat. Nope. As early as the 6th century B.C., Pythagoras — later followed by Aristotle and Euclid — wrote about Earth as a sphere, and historians say there is no doubt that the educated in Columbus’s day knew quite well that the Earth was round. Columbus, in fact, owned a copy of Ptolemy’s Geography, written at the height of the Roman Empire, 1,300 years before Columbus set sail. Several books published in Europe between 1200 and 1500 discussed the Earth’s shape, including “The Sphere,” written in the early 1200s, which was required reading in European universities in the 1300s and beyond. The big question for Columbus, it turns out, was not the shape of the Earth but the size of the ocean he was planning to cross.”
*Columbus didn’t “discover” America.
During four trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central and South American coasts. But he didn’t reach North America, which, of course, was already inhabited by Native Americans, and he never thought he had found a new continent. You may also remember that it is believed that Norse explorer Leif Erikson reached Canada perhaps 500 years before Columbus was born, and there are some who believe that Phoenician sailors crossed the Atlantic much earlier than that.
* The famous names of the ships he took on his famous 1492 trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, probably weren’t really named Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. The Santa Maria was also known at the time as La Gallega, meaningthe Galician. The Niña is now believed to be a nickname for a ship originally called the Santa Clara, and the Pinta also was probably a nickname, though the ship’s real name isn’t clear.
The Washington Post article certainly shines a light, giving us a new perspective on the events as they may have occurred, which differ greatly than what most of us were taught in school as children. Perhaps by providing this information and encouraging a dialogue on this topic, we can make begin the healing process.
Well … that’s a wrap for today! Until next time … keep seeking the truth and stay organized!
Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right. – Phil McGraw
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McGraw, D. P. (2000). Life Strategies. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from drphil.com: http://drphil.com/articles/article/44
Strauss, V. (2015, October 11). The Washington Post. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from Why is columbus day still a U.S. federal holiday?: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/10/11/why-is-columbus-day-still-a-u-s-federal-holiday/