I recently read that Christopher Columbus’ first ship was no longer than a tennis court. The thought of being packed into a cramped space with a bunch of dirty, hungry sailors for months on end gave me the chills.
Like most Americans, my knowledge of American history is sketchy. I can at least identify states and name their capitols, and am somewhat good with dates, especially if they’re put into a rhyme. Otherwise, I’m pretty clueless.
Still, the boat factoid triggered my OCD and got me digging to find out more about this Italian navigator who discovered America. With my Shelby Foote hat on, I share some interesting tidbits about Christopher Columbus.
He started sailing young. He was 14 when he started working on ships.
He was a born “sales” man. Getting a crew together was very difficult, since people thought that the Earth was flat, so they had to convince them otherwise.
He thought out of the box. He was convinced he could reach Asia by traveling West.
He was big on ideas, but low on cash. He tried to get support from many sources, including the King of Portugal, but most European rulers thought he was a crackpot and didn’t pay much attention to him.
He was like the dog that wouldn’t go away. He hung around the Spanish court for years before convincing Ferdinand and Isabella to finance his journey.
He never believed he had found a new world. Until his dying day he continued to believe that Japan, China and the court of the Great Khan were very close to the lands he had discovered.
He was Steve Jobs, before there was a Steve Jobs. Before him, people were primarily hunters and gatherers, traveling across the scope of the land and often engaging in bloody wars with one another. Columbus brought the technologies, achievements, and innovations of people such as Aristotle, Newton and Galileo. He unfortunately brought smallpox too.
He gave back. He introduced tobacco to the Europeans after seeing the Indians use it,
He wasn’t the first. Norse explorer Leif Eriksson beat him to it by 500 years.