Christopher Columbus was an explorer from Genoa, Italy. As an adult, Columbus worked as a trader, traveling mostly by sea.
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So, Columbus had a lot of experience at sea, he was an experienced sailor. He had done this for many years of his life. Then he came up with an idea.
After many years of presenting his idea, Columbus finally received financial backing from King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain 1492. And this was his idea: he wanted to find a new trade route to Asia which led to the East, so Asia lay to the east of them, but he wanted to get there by sailing west. He thought if he started here, and went far enough this way, he’d circle back around and hit here. And he would’ve been right, except that America was in the way. You had two continents – North and South America – that were not going to go away. So, his plan didn’t work out quite like he thought it was going to.
Now, he tried for several years to get people to accept this plan, but since they had just come up with the route to go south of the tip of Africa to get to Asia, people weren’t as interested in it. Finally, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain said, “Okay, we feel like maybe there’s an idea here. We’ll support you and see how it goes.” So, Columbus was given three ships for his first voyage: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. And he eventually landed near South America, but he thought he had reached the Indies, which is what they called Asia at that time.
So, Columbus made four voyages in all to what he called the West Indies. So, he thought by sailing west, he’d reach the Indies and he called them the West Indies. He made four voyages there, and he kept thinking he was reaching the Indies. Now, other people didn’t think so. They thought he was getting to different land, but Columbus refused to believe that. He held on to the belief that he had reached the West Indies as he planned to. Now, he didn’t discover a new trade route to the Asian Indies. He thought he had, but he hadn’t, but he did discover a new trade route. He discovered new land. He discovered a place that had lots of new resources, and it opened a door for exploration and colonization of the Americas. So, he is credited with the discovery of the Americas, however, Columbus never would admit that he had discovered new lands. He maintained that he had reached the West Indies.
Now, he did name some of the islands he found and claimed them for Spain, but he didn’t think that he reached a completely new continent. He thought he had just reached part of the West Indies, and he refused to believe otherwise, and maintained that he had reached the West Indies until the day he died, which is why, possibly, the Americas aren’t named after Columbus, but instead after Amerigo Vespucci, who actually claimed he discovered new lands whenever he came to the Americas. So, Columbus was the first person to get to the Americas, he just didn’t admit that he’d done it.