Curiosity Set Sail with Columbustags: Columbus Day
Joyce Appleby is an emeritus professor of history at UCLA and the author of Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination.
The day in 1492 when Columbus ran into a cluster of islands blocking his way to India is celebrated throughout Latin America and in Spain. It is now fixed in the United States as the second Monday in October, and Americans too have long commemorated the event, both embracing and vilifying the explorer.
Irish and Italian immigrants proudly pointed to Columbus' Roman Catholic religion to fight the prejudice they experienced in their adopted country, and in 1882, they founded the Knights of Columbus, now the world's largest Catholic service organization. But during the late 20th century, Native Americans bristled at the notion of Columbus' "discovery," feeling that their ancestral lands didn't need discovering.
But the real reason Columbus' voyages should be remembered — and celebrated — is for their central role in prying loose European curiosity from the vise put in place by the medieval church.
It took something as dramatic as finding new lands filled with exotic people, plants and animals to liberate Europe's investigative spirit from official opprobrium. Over the two centuries that followed Columbus' initial voyage, robust questioning about the nature of the world turned an inward society outward, fueling an inquisitiveness that would eventually carry Europeans around the world....
comments powered by Disqus
- Most Millennials Resist the ‘Millennial’ Label
- Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers – and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting
- China military parade commemorates WW2 victory over Japan
- New documentary explores the legacy of the 5,000 Rosenwald schools set up by a Sears magnate and Booker T. Washington
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- Historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham wins National Humanities Medal
- AHA President Vicki L. Ruiz named National Humanities Medalist
- Historians of Color Are Revolutionizing the Narrative of ‘American Exceptionalism’
- Henry VIII voted worst monarch in history
- The Fuhrer style: Historian says press coverage of Hitler’s lavish life fueled his rise to power