The first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the US was on October 12, 1792 – 300 years after the anniversary of Columbus’ landing. The history of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America is a very interesting one.
Christoforo (his Italian name) Columbus was born in 1451, in Genoa, Italy. His father was a weaver and his son was expected to follow in his footsteps, but the young Columbus dreamed of the sea. He longed to become a sailor and at a young age began working as a cabin boy. By the time he was 30 years old, he was captain of his own ship.
In the year 1476, Columbus married a girl named Felipa and became a Portuguese citizen. Columbus wanted to sail to the Indies and he worked to raise the necessary money to take the voyage. In 1482, he went to King John II of Portugal for the money and ships and he refused. He then went to Spain and asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. His first request was denied, but when he approached them again, the Queen decided to fund the voyage.
On August 3, 1492, Columbus and his three ships – the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria headed westward toward the Indies. Columbus has 88 men to serve as crew members, but as the journey continued the men became frightened and wanted to return home. By October 10, made a promise to return home if land was not sighted within two days.
On 2am on the morning of October 12, 1492, a sailor on the Pinta sighted land. When they landed, Columbus kissed the ground and claimed the land for Spain. The people on the island were frightened of Columbus, and he called them ‘Indians’ for he had believed he had reached the Indies. When Columbus returned to Spain, he brought back spices and other foods found on this new land. He even forced some ‘Indians’ to return with him, as slaves.
Columbus returned three more times to this new land and each time he raided the lands and caused devastation to the natives there. He made many prisioners or slaves of the men, destroyed their homes and tried to force taxation onto them, under the Spanish crown.
Since 1920, Columbus Day has been celebrated to honor the day Columbus landed in America. In 1971 it became a federal holiday to be celebrated on the second Monday in October.