Christopher Columbus
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Christopher Columbus, born in Italy in 1451, was one of the most influential explorers
who ever lived due to his discovery or the West Indies. His discovery of the islands was
actually an accident. He was hoping to find a westward route to India to trade spices. Even to his death, Columbus actually believed he had found India, despite the "inaccurate" descriptions of the natives that lived there.
Early Life
Columbus’ father was a weaver and wool merchant in Genoa, Italy. But for some reason, Columbus was always drawn to the sea. He shipwrecked off the coast of Portugal in 1476, and while he was there, he married Doña Felipa Perestrello, who bore him a son, Diego. She died in 1485. At around the same time, with the Turkish capture of Constantinople, prices of oriental goods skyrocketed for Europe, and Columbus heard of a fortune to be made if a route westward to India could be found. He set out to do just that, and he asked King John of Portugal for help, but they were too busy rounding the coast of Africa. A few years later, after the Spanish war with the Moors, he pressed the Spanish monarchs for the same help.
First Voyage
Columbus sailed for King Ferdinand of Granada and Queen Isabella of Castile. It took a
long time of convincing the Crown, as they were called, for them to finally fund his voyage west
to "India." He had hoped the world was much smaller than it actually is, as he had predicted
that Asia was only around 2,500 miles west of Spain. After about 2 months of sailing, he and his
crew finally found land in October of 1492. Not knowing that this was in fact the islands of the Caribbean,
and not India, he wrote that the natives were gentle and trusting, and that they could easily be
enslaved for Spain. He also traded with the natives for gold that he would eventually bring back
to Spain.
Second Voyage
He was very well received back in Spain, and the Crown was eager to send him off on a
second voyage to explore more. But instead of the 3 ships he had taken on the first voyage,
Columbus now had a fleet of 17 ships and a clear goal: to make colonies and get gold and silver.
As he continued to explore, he took natives as slaves and set up many colonies. He established
a base at Hispaniola (modern Haiti and Dominican Republic), and sailed back to Spain in late 1493.
Third & Fourth Voyages
Columbus' last voyages were filled with more discovery, as he had sailed farther south
into South America and had sailed farther west, and into modern Mexico.

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Columbian Exchange
The Columbian Exchange was the trade of gold, animals, and plants, the outbreak of
disease, and the colonization of the West Indies after Christopher Columbus discovered them.
These exchanges are a big part of what makes up the modern Western Hemisphere. It was a
huge benefit for Europe, because they now had a constant source of income from the gold, as
well as new colonies in a foreign land. However, it was a catastrophe for the Native Americans.
Nearly half of them died as a result of European diseases, and many of them were subject to slavery. Still, Christopher Columbus’ voyages were a makor Part of what became the Western World.

Works Cited
“Christopher Columbus: Explorer.” 302 Found. Enchanted Learning. Web. 04 Apr. 2012.
“Christopher Columbus.” United States American History. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <http://www.u-s->.
“Columbus Day Menu.” Christopher Columbus Biography. Microsoft Encarta. Web. 04 Apr.
"Columbus's Early Years." The Early Life of Columbus. Keith A. Pickering, 2010. Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <>.
“Voyages of Christopher Columbus.” ThinkQuest. Oracle Foundation. Web. 04. Apr. 2012.