Monday, October 11, 2010

On the Ocean Blue

Magnet # 365:  Historic Caribbean Islands Map

Material:  Rubber

Purchased By:  Mildred

Happy Columbus Day, especially to those of you who are lucky enough to have it off from work.  I wish I were among you.  Oh well, as you likely already know, this event is held in honor of Christopher Columbus' first arrival in the New World on October 12th of 1492.  Many nations around the world hold some variation of this observance, and it was already being marked with celebrations around the globe by the late 18th century.  In 1792, cities around the United States, including New York City, threw some particularly grand festivities in honor of the 300th anniversary of Columbus' landing.  But Colorado was the first state to make this an official holiday in 1906, and by 1930s, the federal government had followed its example.  In 1971, it was switched from always being held on the 12th of October to the second Monday of the month.  Interestingly, Canadian Thanksgiving had been held then since 1959, but I'm not sure if that had anything to do with the change.

I thought this magnet of the Caribbean would be the best to accompany a post about Columbus, as it was pretty much the area of the New World to which his travels were limited.  He first landed at what is believed to be San Salvador Island, which is now in the southeastern Bahamas.  Okay, that's a little too high to be featured on this magnet, as was his next stop in Cuba.  Of course, he thought both islands were parts of Asia.  After that, he made it to Hispaniola island, which would later include the nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, featured in the top left corner of the magnet.  There, he had a run of bad luck - the Santa Maria was run ashore and had to be abandoned, but he built a settlement from its remains.  Later, on anther part of the island, he came across the only hostile natives he met during his first voyage.  After they attacked his crew, he took a number of them hostage and brought them all the way back to Spain, where those who survived fascinated much of Seville.  For his second voyage, Columbus landed further south at an island he named Santa Maria la Galante.  From there, it's believed he headed north, naming islands as he went, such as St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Croix which are all depicted here.  He landed at Puerto Rico, where he and his men were able to rescue two young captives.  Once more, he traveled to Hispaniola and Cuba before making it to Jamaica for the first time.  He returned to Hispaniola before heading back to Spain.  For his third trip, Columbus landed on Trinidad and named nearby Tobago. located at the center in the bottom of the magnet.  And during his fourth and final voyage, he finally made it to mainland America, landing in Central America.  He sailed south, hoping to find the passage to Asia he was in search of.  Ironically, one of his stops was Panama.  They faced the worst storm they'd encountered, but made it through.  Columbus and his crew tried to reach Hispaniola, but were instead stranded on Jamaica for over a year.  And though he'd helped create a colony on Hispaniola, the governor there refused to help him.  Regardless, Columbus received the aid he needed and returned to Spain.  There, he spent the final years of his life trying to plead his case to the king, believing he had traveled to the coast of Asia.

Since his death, Columbus has obviously received much of the respect he was denied in life.  One of the most obvious signs of this is how his remains have been moved no less than five times.  They're now displayed in the Seville Cathedral in a lavish casket held aloft by the statues of four kings.  Unfortunately, the day named in his honor hasn't always been held in high esteem by everyone.  Some protested it early on, holding that it was being used to push the Catholic agenda.  With time, Native Americans also protested the holiday, claiming it should be renamed "International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People."  The tensions have run particularly deep in Venezuela, where a crowd toppled a statue of Columbus in 2004 and defaced the pedestal on which it stood.  Despite these misgivings, all around the world, people still recognize the significance of Columbus' discovery all those years ago, an act which forever changed the history of the world.

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