The Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria
The names of the ships probably weren't the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. At the time, Spanish ships had official religious names, but were generally known by their nicknames. The Niña is believed to be the nickname for the Santa Clara. The Santa Maria was known at the time as La Gallega. The Pinta was probably also a nickname, but the official name isn't known.
Columbus kept two logs of the distance they traveled. The one he showed to the crew showed they had not gone as far as they really had. He did not want them to think they were too far from home because he feared they would want to turn back as supplies ran low. On the 14th of September, 1492, some terns were spotted. This was a bird that was known to stay fairly close to land, so Columbus thought this was a sign that they were getting close. By the 16th, land still had not been sighted. The sailors had never been away from land for so long, so they were growing more fearful.
The days passed slowly. The crew demanded they turn around and go home and there were whispers of mutiny, but Columbus managed to calm them. Throughout the journey the crew took any small token as a sign of land, bits of seaweed, crabs, birds, whales, and even a drizzling rain. Finally, land was sighted on the 12th of October, 1492.
Columbus did not discover America
The two continents known now as North and South America were home to millions of people for at least 20,000 years before Columbus was born! In fact, he isn't even the first person from Europe to visit North America.
More than 400 years before Columbus lived, Vikings, who sailed from Greenland, lived in North America. The built villages and stayed for about ten years.
Columbus was a terrible person
When Columbus landed on the island that is now known as Hispaniola, he met the Native People who were friendly as they traded supplies with the sailors. In his diary, Columbus described them as "very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces. They do not carry arms [guns or swords] or know them. . . . They should be good servants." He soon forced them into slavery and punished them with losing an arm, or even death, for not finding enough gold.
He wasn't any better with the Spanish who returned to the island on his second and third trips. They were flogged (beaten with whips) and executed without a trial. In fact, when the King and Queen of Spain heard about his bad behavior, he was arrested and returned to Spain in chains.
Groeneveld, Emma. “Vinland.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 15 Jan. 2021, www.ancient.eu/Vinland/.
Mikkelson, David. “What Were the Names of Christopher Columbus' Three Ships?” Snopes.com, 12 Oct. 2020, www.snopes.com/fact-check/columbus-ships-names/.
Myint, B. “Was Christopher Columbus a Hero or Villain?” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 8 Oct. 2020, www.biography.com/news/christopher-columbus-day-facts.
Strauss, Valerie. “Christopher Columbus: 3 Things You Think He Did That He Didn't.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/14/christopher-columbus-3-things-you-think-he-did-that-he-didnt/.
Weiner, Eric, and Russell Freedman. “Coming to America: Who Was First?” NPR, NPR, 8 Oct. 2007, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15040888.
I often struggle to find websites with thorough explanations in simple language to help kids understand historical events or scientific concepts, so I decided to create some of my own!