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Christopher Columbus

He was a 15th century Italian Navigator who unknowingly discoved a new continent while looking for a western route to the Indies. He didn't find India, China or Japan; he found a whole new world but was never to know that.

He was not the first to discover America -people already lived there -but he was a great explorer. The son of a wool weaver, he became a mapmaker and in 1476, when only 25, sailed to Portugal. In 1478, he was married to Felipa Moniz Perestrello.

In the late 1400's merchants wanted to get to the Indies (India, China and Japan) for trade in silks, spices and gold. People at that time thought you must sail around Africa and go east, but Columbus wanted to sail west to find a new route to the Indies.

Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain were instrumental in the arrangements for securing his ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

He set sail August 3, 1492 and at 2:00 a.m. October 12th sighted land. Their first discov- ery, which he named San Salvador, was followed by the discovery of Cuba and Hispaniola. The Santa Maria sank while on the exploration voyage and Columbus lest 33 men on San Salvador and sailed the Nina and Pinta back to Spain. The 33 men used the wood from the shipwrecked Santa Maria to build a fort.

Christopher Columbus made in all 4 voyages to the New World subsequently discovering Dominica, Puerto Rico, the Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands, Jamaica, South America and Central America. He died May 20, 1506, at Valladolid, Spain.

Whether a noble spirit bent on extending Christendom or a mercenary sailor in search of gold, slaves and trade in the Indies, Columbus must be given credit for bringing off one of the biggest gambles in history.