Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492 and we celebrate him each year on Columbus Day. At least that is what all elementary school children were always taught: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”Here is the problem, it’s not really accurate.
Columbus never did “discover” North America, and the regions he did explore were already inhabited. He only discovered them from the viewpoint of the Europeans. Yet his first voyage did prove one thing for sure, that the earth was not only round, but that it was bigger than he had thought.
One of the first known celebrations marking the discovery of the “New World” by Christopher Columbus was in 1792, when a ceremony organized by the Colombian Order was held in New York City honoring Christopher Columbus and the 300th anniversary of his landing in the Bahamas. Then, on October 12, 1866 the Italian population of New York organized the first celebration of the discovery of America. Three years later, in 1869 Italians in San Francisco celebrated October 12 calling it C-Day.
To mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage, in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison made a commemorative proclamation. But it was Colorado, in 1905, that became the first state to observe a Columbus Day. Since 1920 the day has been celebrated annually, and in 1937 President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed every October 12 as Columbus Day. That’s where it remained until 1971 when Congress declared it a federal public holiday on the second Monday in October.