Monday, October 13, 2014

Should Columbus Day Really Be Caboto Day; Or, Does Leif Erikson's Excellent Adventure Even Matter?

On this day in 2009 I blogged about this interesting Columbus Day post by James C. Bennett on some surprising complexities regarding the holiday. Here's my summary paragraph from that post:

Caboto? Cabot? Yes, it's the same explorer. John Cabot, often identified as the "English" navigator, was really an Italian who financed his "discovery" of North America in 1497 - not just a few islands as Columbus did in 1492 - with English money. Leave it to those crafty English to Anglicize him and create mass confusion among school children and armchair authorities for centuries to come.

John Cabot in his Venetian robes  Guistino Menescardi, 1762

Putting aside Bennett's Calvinist Puritan "depravity of man" talk, readers know full-well my opinion on the superlatives and "firsts" regarding the exploration and occupation of the planet.  Whether it's Leif Erikson, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Kennewick Man or whomever, we should know by now it's the politics that matters. Given that, Glenn Reynolds contributes a fine recommendation for this day. He suggests we read Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus, a superb biography by the renowned writer and maritime historian, Samuel Eliot Morison. See the link for a brief excerpt and segue into Bennett's opinion.  

Enough said. My you have an enjoyable Columbus Day holiday and thank Bjarni Herjolfsson for staying out to sea.

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