Christopher Columbus did not arbitrarily get in a boat and sail west to find the new world that later was named America. There were many historical initiatives that brought him to that point that lasted several hundred years until he came on the scene.
Between 1095 and 1291 Christian crusaders sought to free Jerusalem from what they considered pagan influence. They failed but brought back many luxurious and necessary items such as silk, gems, tapestries, and the all-important spices. There was no refrigeration during that period which made spices important to preserve or neuter the bad taste of food.
Gold was constantly drained in commerce causing an acute money shortage. This resulted in Europe falling into a prolonged depression. The only solution was to find the source of supplies offered by the Orient. As early as 1298 Marco Polo demonstrated that the source of these goods was found in the near East to be brought back to Europe.
Around the 1300s national states began to form with strong kings who welded feudal estates into kingdoms. Such nations as Portugal, Spain, France, and England emerged. With that created a commercial revolution that shifted finances away from the feudal lords to the nations with monarchs. Modern business methods were introduced with the features of capitalism. This involved the taking of interest, competition, and individual initiative. These means made it necessary for long voyages and explorations.
At first explorers sought a route around southern Africa to the far east trade. Nations like Portugal and Spain looked towards sailing west. By that time, earth was seen as round and not flat. Such a venture to go West was delayed by wars with Moorish invaders from Africa. This is when Christopher Columbus came on the scene. He sought support from several nations, but the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella decided to send him westwards in three ships. It took him ninety-three days to find land that he thought was the Orient but was actually the Bahamas in 1492.
The primary reason for this excursion by Columbus was initiated by economics and the need to improve health by the use of spices. Even though he thought the route to the Orient was his discovery, he found the New World. Other explorers confirmed the result of his voyages.
Christopher Columbus has been unfairly attacked by modern liberals even to the point wanting his day to be removed from our calendar. They accused him of atrocities and initiating slavery. The fact is slavery had already been a common part of national life all over the world. Other explorers and other kings were involved. To them slaves were a national necessity for work to be accomplished in various societies. Many explorers who sailed across the Atlantic committed worse human crimes such as virtually annihilating some cultures such as the Aztecs.
It is important that we honor Christopher Columbus. He was a representative of what has become our capitalistic system. He was not equal in his time for bravery, initiative, and navigational knowledge. His efforts were genuinely honest to support the needs of all Europeans. The result of his explorations provided him little. At the end of his life, he died virtually a pauper. He was a hero. He was a man of great self-sacrifice. He sought to provide what others could not. This day we remember Christopher Columbus as a great man!