Columbus lands in the “New World”
The Age of Exploration – and what some might call America’s modern history – began on this date in 1492 as Christopher Columbus lands on a Bahamian island in the West Indies. Believing he had found a western sea route to Asia, he and his crew claim the land in the name of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, his Spanish benefactors. That fall, Columbus also set foot on the beaches of Cuba and Hispaniola, believing them to be China and Japan, respectively. He returned to Spain in 1493 bearing gold, spices, and native captives, as courtiers proudly welcomed him. Contrary to the myth, many educated Europeans did believe the earth was round, though they did not yet have knowledge of the Pacific Ocean, and were slow to realize the massive size of the globe (and the presence of the Americas within it). Columbus subsequently led three more expeditions to the New World, only realizing his mistake shortly before he died (and hence, died rather frustrated and disappointed). Though he himself never set foot on the mainland of North America (and though he wouldn’t have been the first European there anyway), his accomplishments ultimately led to the exploration, globalization, and international relations that have defined our modern history.
Why don’t you think the Europeans wanted to continue travelling to China over land?