On many calendars in the Americas and elsewhere, this date marks the celebration of Columbus Day, or “Día de la Hispanidad.” Columbus actually “discovered America” on October 12, 1492, and herein lies our lesson.
At about 2:00 in the morning on the date in question, a lookout on the Pinta, Rodrigo de Triana, spotted land, and immediately alerted the rest of the crew with a shout. Thereupon, the captain of the Pinta, Martín Alonso Pinzón, verified the discovery and alerted Columbus by firing a lombard. Columbus later maintained that he himself had already seen a light on the land a few hours earlier, thereby claiming for himself the lifetime pension promised by Ferdinand and Isabella to the first person to sight land. Hence, simultaneous with the sighting was the practice of the first major “dick-move” by a European in the Western Hemisphere.
Coming ashore in The Bahamas at San Salvador, Columbus encountered peaceful and friendly indigenous peoples, the Lucayan, Taíno, or Arawak. Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold. Many historians characterize this as the explorer’s second major “dick-move.” Recounting the event, Columbus mused “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.”
Columbus always insisted, in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, that the lands he visited during his three total voyages were part of the Asian continent, as previously described by Marco Polo and other European travelers. Columbus’s refusal to accept that the lands were not part of Asia might explain, in part, why the American continent was named after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not after Columbus.
So, this insistence was indeed Columbus’s third profound dick-move, and here endeth the lesson.