It’s been over 500 years since Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the “New World.” No disrespect to the more primitive nations that were already here, or to the Vikings who were also ahead of their European counterparts in global geography, but it was Columbus’ discovery that sparked the global change and progress that brought us to where we are today. This is why we do more to celebrate Columbus Day than Leif Ericson Day (October 9th in some states).
So let’s take a look at the discovery itself as well as the events afterward, for they are instructive. Columbus’ objective in 1492, at the behest of Spain’s Queen Isabella, was to open a new, and presumably quicker, trade route to India. What they found was another continent in the way. Not much happened after that for a really long time. Surely there was more exploration and several attempts to build permanent outposts, but Jamestown, the first English colony to succeed after at least 18 failures elsewhere, wasn’t established until the passage of 5 generations, more than 100 years, in 1607. It was another 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Still, this was nothing more than a remote and impoverished outpost.
However, by the time the Colonies established themselves as the United States of America another 170 years later, a vibrant society was established here that could not be ignored. Over the next few decades, the Southern states had become one of the wealthiest “nations” on earth. That is an amazing feat (thanks in no small part to cheap slave labor).