Today in History

On May 1, 1486, Christopher Columbus persuaded the Spanish queen, Isabella I, to fund an expedition to what would become known as the West Indies. Columbus believed that venturing westward would prove to be a shortcut to Asia.

Wrote Don Nardo, author of The European Exploration of America ,”the Spanish queen and king were hesitant to believe that a westward route to Asia was shorter and to fund Columbus’s expedition. However, Columbus was drawing attention to himself, and Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand were fearful that another nation, specifically France, would eventually support Columbus. If this happened, Spain’s dominance over the seas would be at risk. With this in mind, the Spanish throne decided in 1486 to support Columbus by offering him a salary and residence in their kingdom.”

In 1492, after years of negotiating with the Spanish crown, Columbus sailed west with three small ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.  In October of that year, Columbus’s ships reached San Salvador, an island in the Bahamas.

Although Native Americans and Vikings had already come to America, Columbus’s exploratory voyage triggered the European immigration to the New World.

Nardo wrote, “… he opened up the largest and longest age of exploration, discovery, and colonization the world had ever known…. The settlement of the Americas marked a crucial development in history and gave rise to the culture that is still prevalent on those continents today.”

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor

For more information on the discovery of America, check out The European Exploration of America by Don Nardo (ISBN 9781599351414)

Published in: on May 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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