Connie and Niven,
I enjoyed your following comments on Columbus but wanted to add a bit of my own historical appreciation from the reading on discoveries I have been doing albiet some time ago that may add a bit of a scholarly perspective.
What I suggest is that what Columbus actually discovered was the trade winds in the North Atlantic near the equator. Following his voyages any boat of the that era was able to make the journey! And many many did so using the trade wind patterns. In fact after his return the trade winds were followed regularly and eventually daily for centuries. I do not depreciate in any manner the efforts of discovery or the courage to make any discovery. What lands Columbus touched on is a matter of historical conjecture although most scholars agree that it was not the contenental United States. And the school poem is wrong in fact & substance. In fact the point that the lands were open to exploitation was moot from the earliest voyages. It took a fair amout of time for the systematic exploitation to take effect and more exploration.
With respect to the American teaching of the early American history, there is a slant that is pure "American mythology" linking the United States and its discovery with Columbus. What it missed is the geography and the view that discovery of anything off the Continential United States had significance. Hence the Vikings were downplayed as was possible other voyages and discoveries like the Irish. By overplaying the simplistic mythologies current students are perhaps led astray from a sound scholarly approach to knowledge of discovery, exploration and cultural exchanges. So let me add the Canadian (while remaining a proud American) perspective to our British and American friends, and add some questioning from our educational culture here.
Why do we draw the Santa Maria with Templar crosses? Why was there a reference in the Diary to a map. Did Columbus visit Iceland to gain knowledge of the continent? Was he aware of the Viking information (all balads and stories) and why did more Jewish settlements open up in the middle Americas in the generation following his visit? And why did he have such close ties to Portugal and less to Spain? And who funded the trip? (Not the Spanish Crown). My point is that the appreciation and study of history needs careful reflection and study and seldom are there quick answers.
And Niven I do not paint Columbus with the same brush as the Spanish. Yes what they, the Spanish peoples, did in the name of religion and country to the native population was a crime to humankind. But the atrocities and genocide was also being practiced by the same natives in the Americas with much more gruesome details. But I am careful here to recognize that many evils have been done by many cultures. The extermination and total genocide of the natives of Newfoundland was by very english speaking peoples so even Canadian history is tarnished. I do not blame one John Cabot for the extermination of these Indians. Mans inhumanity to man is terrible. I agree. But unlike American historical revisionists with a bias toward Indian cultural history, I do not lay the blame of the crimes to American Indians as being Columbus's fault. They never overlapped and certainly while there are explainations I find that blaming Columbus to be a bit simplistic, but I fear ours is a simplistic age of easy explainations.
So I do not link this with the personal biography of Columbus. The view of Columbus we have is rather limited by what Darwin Ramsay would point to as a lack of archelogical and authentic documentation. There is a diary and of course some co-oberative records but still not much. And in this evidence we have there is scant to no evidence of Columbus being a personal "butcher". We know he did not personally benefit from his 'discovery' and died in poverty according to most biographers. Some Canadian authors on the subject write quite to the contrary and suggest that his voyage was linked to the exodus of the jews from southern Spain. And had Columbus not discovered the tradewinds for all others to follow, then someone else would have sooner or later. The 1500's were dawning, and navigation and ship building were making significant strides.
Yes American history needs better teaching and understanding, but sadly I suspect the discovery of America in British history fares little better and the Canadian approach is lacking as well. I see no evidence for accusing Columbus of personal atrocities. I just hope that Hollywood gets it right in its feature films that we can all understand. (sarcasm added) But this is not history either, but what we commonly and our children now are asked to accept as history.
Now to tie all this to the Sinclair discussion as Sinclair history. Was Columbus related to the Sinclairs by marriage? Was there a templar/masonic tie? Was the existance of the Grand Banks known to Columbus as it was to the Basque fishermen (of Spain) since 1200? Was there an agenda that was different from Spain or Portugal? Columbus was not Spanish? Look into the origins of Columbus and is there a tie with Zeno or the information that may have existed at the time? Was there a common geography? Do the histories overlap making the Henry Sinclair voyage more creditable and logical or part of a wider pattern of which Lief was just one small part ? Look at Henry as a sailor and Admiral of Scotland under Richard II and the surprise is perhaps not as astounding.
Now I sadly agree with Niven's wisdom when he stated that "Hstory has a tendency to repeat itself. Weapons may change. Man doesn't.". In 1999 this again proved too true. Only this time it was a British PM that raised the ethnic cleansing alarm, and American President that backed him and a Canadian jurist that for the first time indicted a national leader in a world tribunal of crimes against humanity. Perhaps in a slow way, if man is not changing, he is indeed learning. We can hope!
From: Niven Sinclair <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: 26 August, 1999 4:40 AM
Subject: Re: viking runestone in Oklahoma
>At 20:13 25/08/99 -0400, you wrote:
>>As a former history teacher, I have to put my 2 cents in here.
>>American history books, at least back when I was teaching in the 70's and
>>80's, taught that there were probably many visitors from Europe to the "New"
>>World prior to Columbus and his cohorts. Leif was foremost among those
>>mentioned. However, the books taught, and I agree, that Columbus'
>>contribution was that his voyage to America opened up these continents for
>>exploitation. Therefore, his voyage resulted in their 'discovery.'
>>It is very similar to the concept of some 'little whole in the wall'
>>restaurant that has been around for years finally making it big when someone
>>takes the idea and markets it. McDonald's and its trademark Golden Arches
>>comes to mind here. The McDonald brothers have been immortalized much like
>>Amerigo Vespucci, but the man behind McDonald's was Ray Kroc and the man who
>>gets the credit for discovering America is Christopher Columbus.
>Connie, you are right but we should never forget:
> Christopher Columbus never set foot on the |Continent of
> Christopher Columbus never claimed to have 'discovered'
> Christopher Columbus went to his grave still believing
>that he had reached the Indies.
> Christopher Columbus did not herald "The Great Age of
>Discovery" but "The Great Age
> of Extermination" as practised by the
>Conquisatadores who termed it
> 'moral sanitation' which is merely a
>euphemism for 'ethnic cleansing'.
> Christopher Columbus was a mercenary with all the greed
>and brutality of that breed
> of Man. He had no redeeming features. He
>lied and lied and lied.
>The myth about Columbus's discovery of America is probably one of the
>biggest deceptions ever practised
>because it suited the Vatican at that time. (Treaty of Tordesillas 1496
>which divided the World into Spanish
>and Portuguese spheres of influence just as, later on, the World was to be
>divided between U.S. and Russian
>spheres of influence. History has a tendency to repeat itself. Weapons
>may change. Man doesn't.
>The tragedy is that the myth about Columbus is still being disseminated in
>our schools with only passing reference to
>the Vikings and others. History is being distorted and a butcher is being
>sanctified. Neither we nor the indigenous people of America have any reason to be 'grateful' to
>Christopher Columbus. His visit to the New World was one of the blackest chapters in European
>history. No amount of propaganda can disguise the truth about the atrocities which he and his men committed.