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There are so many famous people of Italian heritage who have, not only affected the
people at their time, but also for years and years ahead, even now, in the 21st century!
We, as people who all live in one planet, have to remember one of those famous Italians
who is celebrated every year: Christopher Columbus. What did he do? Well, many kids
would simply answer “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” But he did so much
However, it’s hard to believe that this famous voyager started out as nothing more
than a wool merchant’s son. To make his history even more unbelievable, Columbus’
idea was one that many thought impossible and ridiculous. He believed that, instead of
sailing south all around Africa, why not just sail west across the Atlantic? He
introduced this suggestion to Portugal and England. Unfortunately, each attempt of an
interested audience failed.
Columbus ended up sailing with the support of King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella
from Spain. Spain’s king and queen hoped to transport Catholicism over to the New
World. But, most importantly, there was much competition at that time between
European countries over wealth. Finding a direct water route from Europe to Asia
meant being able to trade for spices. The explorer made four journeys across the Atlantic
Ocean to the New World (the hemisphere that includes North and South America) in
hope of finding that route.
On his first trip, Christopher led a journey along with ninety crew members and three
ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria (which Columbus himself captained).
They set sail on August 3rd, 1492; on October 11th, 1492, the Caribbean islands were
discovered. They landed on an island which Columbus later named San Salvador.
Thinking he had arrived in Asia, he called the inhabitants ‘Indians.’ For months,
Columbus and his men searched for gold and other riches, but to no avail.
Around March 15th, 1493, Christopher returned to Spain. The only thing gained was
the money earned from selling slaves from the islands. Still not giving up, Columbus set
out on the second expedition. On September 25th, 1493, he set sail with seventeen ships
and around 1,350 men. Again, no gold was found. However, a base in Hispaniola was
established, the islands of Dominica, Jamaica, and Guadeloupe were discovered and
named, and the northeastern coast of Cuba was explored.
On May 30th, 1498, Columbus traveled on a more southern route than the other two
expeditions. He ended up discovering Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Margarita.
On his fourth and last expedition on May 9th, 1502, Columbus sailed to Mexico,
Honduras and Panama and Santiago.
Christopher Columbus died on May 20th, 1506. Though Columbus never found gold
or the water route he was hoping for, Columbus’ expeditions made Europeans more
aware of the New World and encouraged more exploration of North and South
America-a continuation of what he’d started. His brave attempts are truly something to