My wife and I were watching a show on the History Channel about who was really the first to discover America. Why? First, we both love shows that get us to think “Wow, I never knew that.” Second, I always start with the hope that the show will puncture some educational pomposity.
Luckily for us, both my chance to say “Gee, I didn’t know that” AND watch some of the pomposity of our liberal leaning educators exposed was achieved.
Anyone with the slightest level of intelligence must have realized that it couldn’t have been Columbus who “discovered” America. Native Americans (which actually weren’t native at all) “discovered” America sometime between 14,000 and 15,000 years ago when they walked across the Bearing Sea land bridge that formed a way to travel from Siberia to Alaska and then spread throughout the then unpopulated western hemisphere.
Over a period of two hours the show discussed the possibility that others might have come to the Americas well in advance of any visit by Columbus. Whether such claims were correct or incorrect, it appears that there were distinct possibilities that visitors to this hemisphere could have preceded Columbus from numerous disparate points of origin. Among these were China, Japan, Polynesia, Ireland, Norway, Scandinavian Vikings and others.
So why is Columbus Day celebrated? Sounds more like we needed traffic controllers to watch all these people coming here as tourists. With the amount of traffic, you’d think someone would be worried about some Viking longboat colliding with a Polynesian dugout canoe, wouldn’t you?
The main difference seems to be that (a) Columbus actually intended to come here (although he did come to the wrong country, since he was really aiming for India) and (b) his voyage of “discovery” was the only one that triggered massive migration from other nations of the world.
While the voyages of other nationalities were discussed (and credited with not sinking and drowning along the way), the professors and Ph.D.’s on screen mentioned Columbus only in passing to show that these other voyages landed in America before him, so he wasn’t “first to discover America”.
So Columbus wasn’t the first. Excuse me for saying “Big deal!” He wasn’t the first, but his voyage was arguably the most important. He went back with news of the find and convinced millions upon millions of others from dozens of nations to follow his lead. That kind of salesmanship is pretty impressive.
When Columbus set foot in America (or more accurately, Bermuda) there were only about three or four million human beings living in North America, and probably about the same number scattered across South America. And while the original group arrived about 14,000 years ago, 14,000 years is a long enough period for a total population of six to eight million inhabitants to be grown locally and didn’t need massive levels of additional immigration from Siberia. If that first group only had 100 women of child bearing age, they could reproduce to a total of eight million humans in less than 50 generations, or about 2,000 years. But let’s be conservative (in a non-political sense) and say it would take 5,000 years.
The massive influx of immigrants following Columbus’ voyage and the children of those first immigrants filled America (just the United States alone) with over 300 million humans. Think about that, it took the original immigrants who walked here from Siberia as much as 5,000 years to total eight million residents. By comparison, it only took one-tenth as long for those who followed Columbus to add nearly 40 times as many people.
I hate to point this out to the professors and their peers, but that makes the result of Columbus hugely more earth-shaking than the accomplishments of the original group from Siberia, or any of the followers from China, Japan, Polynesia and so on.
So that is really why Columbus Day is, and should be, celebrated. It’s not because he was the “first”, but because his voyage has proven to be the most significant and historically altering.