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Transcript of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was born in Italy but his voyages were financed by the Spanish monarchs. On August 3, 1492, Columbus and his crew set sail from Spain in three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. On October 12, the ships made landfall--not in Asia, as Columbus assumed, but on one of the Bahamian islands. For months, Columbus sailed from island to island in what we now know as the Caribbean, looking for the “pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects and merchandise whatsoever” that he had promised to his Spanish patrons, but he did not find much. In March 1493, leaving 40 men behind in a makeshift settlement on Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), he returned to Spain.
About six months later, in September 1493, Columbus returned to the Americas. He found the Hispaniola settlement destroyed (to this day, no one knows what happened there) and left his brothers Bartolomeo and Diego behind to rebuild, along with part of his ships’ crew and hundreds of enslaved natives. Then he headed west, with his own complement of native slaves, to continue his mostly fruitless search for gold and other goods. In lieu of the material riches he had promised the Spanish monarchs, he sent some 500 slaves to Queen Isabella. The queen was horrified--she believed that any people Columbus “discovered” were Spanish subjects who could not be enslaved--and she promptly and sternly returned the explorer’s gift.
Fourth & Final Voyage
In 1502, cleared of the most serious charges but stripped of his noble titles, the aging Columbus persuaded the Spanish king to pay for one last trip across the Atlantic. This time, Columbus made it all the way to Panama--just miles from the Pacific Ocean--where he had to abandon two of his four ships in the face of an attack from hostile natives. Empty-handed, the elderly explorer returned to Spain, where he died in 1506.
The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really “discover” the New World--millions of people already lived there--his journeys marked the beginning of centuries of trans-Atlantic conquest and colonization.
In May 1498, Columbus sailed west across the Atlantic for the third time. He visited Trinidad and the South American mainland before returning to the ill-fated Hispaniola settlement, where the colonists had staged a bloody revolt against the Columbus brothers’ mismanagement and brutality. Conditions were so bad that Spanish authorities had to send a new governor to take over. Christopher Columbus was arrested and returned to Spain in chains.