Part of life as an adult is discovering many of the things you learned in school were taught poorly or seriously manipulated to make the subject easier to understand. As a result, we have adults that do not understand the purpose for pi nor why that number happens to be 3.14. And perhaps worse, we have a distorted understanding of many historical events. Columbus’s expedition included. Here’s some of the history about Columbus that is hardly taught in schools, and most adults probably don’t even know.
Other than discovering “America” one of the major themes of Columbus’s work is his proving to a doubting world the Earth was indeed round. Childhood stories of Columbus make it seem like the rest of the modern world still believed the world was flat and that Columbus just had some crazy idea. Keeping in mind that he just sailed west and discovered some new islands, he didn’t even prove the world was round. But the truth is that most of the world did understand the spherical nature of the planet. The size of the planet had even been accurately calculated as far back as 200 BC.
Where Columbus differed with conventional wisdom was how large the planet was. Some of the first calculations had been lost in translation and so were open to interpretation. Columbus thought the planet was smaller than it is. He also thought China and Japan were much larger than the are so they’d be easy to hit. In reality, the distance from Europe to China by heading west (even if there weren’t a couple of continents in the way) was much too great to be covered by the ships and resources at the time. This is why Columbus had trouble getting funding and support for his journey. No one else in Europe agreed with his calculations. It turns out they were right.
But Columbus managed to get enough investors and convince the king and queen of Spain (after years of convincing) to help fund the voyage. They finally caved because they figured they had nothing to lose and he might still find something. Of course he did.
Even after basically discovering modern America’s favorite honeymoon destination, Columbus always insisted that they were a part of the Asian continent. Which is why today we live in the United States of America. And not the United States of Columbus.