Grade 6: Answering student question on Columbus’s “discovery” of America

Who really discovered America?


Everyone recognizes that many people were in America long before Columbus. The Asiatic peoples who became Native Americans were certainly the first, tens of thousands of years ago. Also Norse expeditions to North America, starting with Bjarni Herjolfsson in 986, are well established historically. Many other pre-Columbian discoveries are not well established. Claims have been made for St. Brendan, Basque fishermen, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Africans, and even Carthaginians. Some of these claims may be true; most are probably not.

For example, Gavin Menzies recently made a big splash by claiming in a bestselling book that America (and most of the rest of the world) was discovered in 1421 by the Chinese Admiral Zheng He. While it is true that Zheng He made a number of important voyages, none of them went beyond the Indian Ocean, as numerous contemporary Chinese accounts make clear. A number of notable scholars have quietly demonstrated that Menzies’ evidence is tissue-thin and his claims unfounded.

Even though Columbus wasn’t the first, his discovery (or re-discovery, if you prefer) is rightly regarded as the most historically important, and will continue to be — even if other earlier claims are eventually proven true. That is because, unlike the others, Columbus inaugurated permanent large scale two-way commerce between the Old World and the New. Previous discoveries were so obscure that almost no one in either hemisphere was aware of the other hemisphere’s existence prior to Columbus. But after Columbus, everyone knew.

The “Admiral of the Ocean Sea,” unlike his predecessors, changed the world.


  • “America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.” – Oscar Wilde
    Irish dramatist, novelist, & poet (1854 – 1900)
  • source:
  • Christopher Columbus: The Man Who Gave Us America
    History; Posted on: 2007-10-07 20:01:03 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Italian hero and adventurer credited with discovering AmericaCOLUMBUS discovered America in 1492. At least that is what all elementary school children were always taught: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Of course, 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 […]
  • source:
  • Was Christopher Columbus Really the First to Discover America?

    By SarahSanuth

    Who discovered America?

    We have been celebrating Columbus day for centuries, in honor of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. But did he really discover America?

    Though the true discoverer of America is being disputed from all over, one thing that we do know is that Christopher Columbus in fact did not discover America.

    There are claims all over of who should actually be credited with its discovery, but one thing we do know for fact is who the country was name by and after, Amerigo Vespucci.

    Amerigo Vespucci was even credited for discovering America when it was realized that he had sailed and stumbled upon America before Columbus.

    There is no scientific evidence that can say who in fact discovered America as there is so much conflicting information and evidence to say otherwise. The only thing that we do know for sure, according to all their records is that the Native Americans were here before them all… all except one group of travelers.

    The Chinese claim that they were in fact the discoverers of America. There is a book written called “The year China discovered America” by William Morrow that claims that Zheng He discovered America in 1421. This is mainly based on a map that was found in a book store in 2001 that was based on an original.

    Zheng He in fact did sail the Pacific and Indian Oceans from 1405 to 1433, with historical records showing exploration of Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and the east coast of Africa, with the British saying that he may have sailed even farther.

    It is also said that when Zheng he visited America that settlements were left behind which may have been the implantation of the Native Americans on our soil.

    Others also say that that there was a crossing at the Bering Sea around this time that suggests that the Chinese came into America, again bringing on the population of Native Americans.

    Many others also believe that the Vikings discovered America. It is said that Leif Erickson sailed from Greenland to America in an attempt to flee his father, Eric the Red and did so some 500 years prior to Columbus’ arrival, in 990 A.D.

    Some also say that monks and lay brothers of the ascetic Celtic Church sailed for Faroe in about 770 A.D. amd stumbled upon America, which prompted the Vikings to set sail for America some years later.

    It is also said that the Hebrew discovered America in about 1000 B.C. It is said that there is evidence in New Mexico which has a dry creek bed that has engraved the 10 Commandements all in Hebrew. Also in 1989 an American explorer in Peru had discovered evidence that King Solomon’s gold mines may have been there.

    The unfortunate thing is that no one can really say which accounts are true and accurate, and which are just speculation. More research needs to be done to validate any of these stories.

    One thing that we do know for fact is that Christopher Columbus did not discover America. But why do we still have Columbus day to honor the discovery? Is it because we don’t have someone to replace his with, or are historians too lazy to figure it out? Why are children today still taught in school that Christopher Columbus discovered America? Children’s heads are still being filled with fiction as matter of fact.

    None the less, we all know someone happened upon here at one time, maybe one day we will figure out who that person was.



Posted on September 27, 2011, in Grade 6 Homework. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: