1492 - Columbus sails to America

The Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, sailing to the New World.

         The famed Italian navigator, Christopher Columbus, set sail from Spain in the autumn of 1492 with the blessing (and funding) of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, with three small ships (the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria) and landed on the shores of the New World. Christopher Columbus Columbus is now believed to have first stepped ashore on a small island in the cluster of islands known today as the Bahamas.  Before his death in 1506 he made three more trips to the Americas, thinking, all the while, that he had 'discovered' a shorter route to the spice islands of the Orient.

         At the time of his death, the Spanish had colonized most of the large islands in the Caribbean, including the modern day island nations of Cuba and the Dominican Repubic, and claimed these lands for the Spanish King under the Doctrine of Discovery.  Within a few years of establishing strongholds on these islands, millions of native people perished of disease, battles, or the brutal conditions imposed by the Spanish when they enslaved native populations. 

         The map depicted here was drawn by Columbus and his brother, Bartholemew, in 1490.  Columbus named St. Barts, a French owned island in the Caribbean, after his brother.