Columbus Day in a Nutshell

Fact of the day: Columbus didn't "discover" America. Though Columbus Day is an American National Holiday, he never stepped foot in North America.

He and his crew first landed on what is today an island in the Bahamas. They thought they had reached Asia, their intended target.

In order to justify his mistake, Columbus told his superiors back in Spain that the "new" lands they discovered were full of riches. This was somewhat a lie, yet it prompted many expeditions abroad that eventually caused the absolute destruction of millions of Native American lives -- first, entire peoples across the Bahamas and Hispaniola were quickly wiped out by conquest and disease. Soon after, the atrocities and deaths would expand to Central and South America, as more conquistadors ventured inland to find new wealth and power. 

This land grab prompted the people of other European nations to cross the Atlantic, in search of new opportunities that supposedly lay in the mysterious, vast continents. Which brings us to the English settlement of North America, about a hundred years after Columbus got lost. They, too, would go on to wipe out millions of Native American lives as their settlements expanded across modern-day America. 

And, that, in a nutshell, is our explanation of Columbus Day.