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Why the US celebrates Columbus Day

  • Published on: 2018-10-08
  • [Music] Christopher Columbus is all over America there are statues and his honor streets and cities are named after him he's got his own national holiday complete with parades for centuries Columbus has been celebrated as the brave Explorer who discovered the new world we celebrate Columbus Day the anniversary of that day in 1492 when Columbus first sighted the land of the new world America but Columbus never even set foot on North American soil his four voyages brought him to the modern-day Caribbean islands Central and South America but never to the country where more than 50 cities towns and counties bear his name we rarely hear about the other explorers who actually landed in the US just a couple decades after Columbus so how did a man who never even set foot in North America end up with a national holiday and a permanent place in American mythology Columbus and his arrival in the Americas is mostly introduced to kids through books songs or cartoons like this one I will discover a shortcut to India and bring back some of the great wealth I find there and I can do it or I know the world is round one of the many problems with cartoons like this one is that it taught a lot of wrong information children were told that Columbus defied conventional wisdom and proved the world was round but at the time people already knew the earth was round Columbus actually claimed the world was smaller than predicted and he was wrong children were also told that Columbus's voyages to the inhabited Islands and the Americas were peaceful the people Columbus called Indians were very friendly and they gave Columbus and his men many gifts but they don't mention that Columbus and his men were responsible for the mass deaths of Native people a friar who lived on the islands Columbus reached and experienced the brutality of the conquest wrote about it he wrote they forced their way into settlements slaughtering small children old men and pregnant women these details have been kept out of most textbooks from the beginning allowing Columbus to become an American icon the idealized version of Columbus is as old as the United States it all began during the War of Independence when the US fought the British the new nation needed a rebellious non British symbol and they found one in Columbus whence the u.s. won independence streets and cities were named after him Columbus's iconic status was further cemented in 1828 when Washington Irving published a biography glorifying him he described him as brave heroic and a genius but he neglected to mention his brutal treatment of indigenous people but Columbus is real big break came in the late 1800s when the country he'd never visited started experiencing some massive changes Italian immigrants were arriving in the United States in big numbers and they faced harsh discrimination they were treated as perpetual foreigners and restricted to manual labor their Catholic beliefs open the door for even more discrimination so they embraced Columbus after all he was Italian and Catholic and already admired so he quickly became an icon for Italian immigrants who argued that they too belonged in America on the 400th anniversary of Columbus's arrival in 1892 Columbus Day was first brought into the school system schools held celebrations and students pledged allegiance to the flag for the first time associating Columbus with patriotism in classrooms across America a year later Columbus became the theme of the world expo in Chicago branding him America's hero around the world as Columbus and his legend became further embedded in American culture so did the Knights of Columbus a Catholic social club founded by Italian immigrants by 1937 the Knights of Columbus had gained enough influence to convince President Roosevelt to proclaim Columbus Day a federal holiday but not everyone wanted to celebrate Columbus while the myth of Columbus had been developing throughout history Native Americans in the US had been dealing with destruction and discrimination for centuries at the hands of all the European settlers followed Columbus but in the 60s things started changing in America as the civil rights movement demanded change native rights became a part of the conversation we passed the government for hundreds of years to do things for our people our with our people the government has only compromised only given us token issues to deal with we're here today is living factors of the problem that's are still existing historians started we examining Columbus and his story correcting the myths and including the missing historical facts as revelations about Columbus have become mainstream some people have rejected the holiday as well as the man and the legacy behind it today cities around the u.s. are opting out of celebrating Columbus Day in some cities they are choosing to celebrate indigenous peoples day instead at the same time more than half of Americans think celebrating Columbus Day is a good idea according to a poll commissioned by the Knights of Columbus most countries are formed with the help of myths and heroes to forge a sense of unity and belonging it's human nature but as the myth of Columbus is confronted with brutal historical facts the US will have to decide which myths are worth keeping and which ones to discard you
  • Runtime: 05:46
  • vox.com, vox, explain, columbus, columbus day, christopher columbus, 1492, indigenous peoples' day, holiday, united states, discovery, nina, pinta, santa maria, world round, united states discovery, west indies, columbus usa, christopher columbus usa, ponce de leon, alonso alvarez de pineda, giovanni da verrazzano, columbus myth, flat earth, bartolome de las casas, native americans


  • Vox

    Correction: At 00:32 we incorrectly say that Columbus never set foot on North American soil. Columbus landed in Central America and the Caribbean which are both regions in North America. We meant to say that Columbus never reached the United States. We regret the error.

  • Baguette1

    so the union party held back the native americans, and did not give them a say

  • greased

    But wait vikings found america first lol get ur facts right.

  • Der Steppenwolf

    "The Native American who discovered Columbus made a terrible discovery." Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 - 1799)

  • Fred is aus the venision

    At the end an Italian Landead in new York 50 years later. so Now you are all Fucktup in your History!!!🇮🇹

  • AGENT 355

    Obviously most people shouldn't trust a poll that was done by the knights of columbus these are the same people who think there's just a few bad apples when it comes to priests RAPING children

  • Dimitri Annikie

    I live in the Caribbean and we wouldn't even dream of making a day for that greedy genocidal maniac 🙌🙌🙌

  • Ontann

    I'm surprised the founding fathers chose Columbus over Amerigo Vespucci (i.e. the guy that the name America is based on).

  • Non

    Lol, I only like Clumbus Day cus' there's no school.

  • MaddCB

    How you get credit for "discovery" if people already there? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  • firufu

    Americans are so hellbent to keep this idealized version of Columbus despite the evidence contradicting the ideas. Its truly disgusting

  • g4ngst4crizz4b

    What's worse? "Columbus Day"? Or if I mention the cleaning product "Spic and Span"? The reaction is enough to consider the association a "race is involved somehow" joke. What's worse? And should Spin and Span be removed either by public action through law or consumer boycott?

  • vinci vedi vici lex talionas

    The Vikings beat him by almost half a millennium. They did not know it was North America, but neither did Columbus hence Indians (India). There is also evidence that the Scandinavians inhabited Greenland until the 14th century. The Vikings that landed there had a name for the natives. "Skralings" which roughly translates into "little ugly people" lol. I learned this stuff from college and I just thought I would share it.

  • Christian Zaffuto

    Because we, the Italians, spanish, portugues, french, spaniards, etc spawned them.

  • White Katakuri

    Aww.. we destroyed the indians mud huts and built educational institutions, constructed hospitals, invented technology in this land. White people are terrible for advancing the world.


    I was taught in Central America to hate the Spanish. Then I grew up, grew a beard, realized I was 100 percent Spanish because of my Spanish beard and other evidence, and learned more about my past, seeing how glorious it was. Columbus was a devil worshiper Knight Templar whose ships La Niña, La Pinta y La Santa María displayed, if ubiquitous illustrations are based on the truth, the Templar cross showing their mission was to establish masonry in other lands, not so much Catholicism which also uses the Templar cross because the Templars aka elite so-called "free"masons who call themselves "ILLUMINATI" also control Catholicism which is idolatrous making Mary a goddess in effect. Everyone who says they are against slavery is a hypocrite when they are silent about terrorist Muslims made prisoners of war. Captives are slaves. The Spanish were in a global war against Islam. If Spain did not conquer what it did, Muslims like the Turks may have gotten there first. Spain was not going to sit idly by and let Islam grow in strength making the Reconquista pointless. Spain improved the civilization of the Natives who were in some cases cannibals or sacrificed humans. Spain taught of racial equality, that all come from Adam. The Spanish mingled with the Natives unlike the British norm. Spain defended the Philippines from Muslim invaders from Brunei and elsewhere. Filipinos would be bowing to Mecca five times a day if not for my people who improved their civilization, united them and gave them chocolate from Aztec lands conquered. Except for some bad apples among the Spanish who deserved torture and death, the Spanish did not kill Natives unless the Natives were hostile to the agents of improved civilization and protection from Islam or human sacrificers or what have you. Ironically, if Muslims took over Spain, land of my ancestors, and executed the libtards in the government and their libtarded army who disgrace Spain, I would be glad to see justice there. 4:32 It's George Dubya Bush with a wig! lol

  • rabblerouser

    I think the natives enjoyed our immigration. They never built any walls.

  • Justino Igriega

    And yet you celebrate Thanksgiving without complaining lmaooooooo

  • Strawhat 845

    I don't understand why the f*** I got a holiday after this guy that killed thousands of people it's just a shame... it's so funny how white people always say they discovered stuff but they haven't discovered anything they just stole from everybody

  • Miguel Castresana Aguirre

    So basically a few hundred of conquistadors conquered lands of millions with their own hands. No help from the native tribes at all. Damn, these spaniards were super humans? Come on... Do not insult the intelligence. They were IN CONSTANT fightings. Aztec/Inca Empires were subduing the surrounding tribes, which was used by the spanish as an advantage.

  • PlaneTravels

    Guys, you are decontextualizing stuff, you shoud study more history, really. Columbus has done nothing wrong in the eyes of a man of his time. You are the ones that are judging a man using your own modern values. Every civilization had slaves, Aztecs had them, it was normal. The word "slave" came from "slav", becouse slavs were common slaves in medieval time, and they were white, but it was not important at the time. When ancient greeks conquered another greek city, they could decide to kill all males and sell every one else like slaves, so, i guess, now we have problems with columns...

  • Sophia Wilson

    Lot of towns have stopped having parades for the Columbus. The truth is coming out.

  • DCpounder

    I love Columbus Day! Nice job discovering the new world! Vox nice error and hold the L.

  • jeremyjw

    careful not to confuse Columbus with Columbia, the personification of the United States

  • Ver Coda

    Possibly because not many people know that Saint Brendan (allegedly) discovered America long before Columbus, but then just went right back to Ireland and left it at that. Brendan was possibly fond of tall tales, however.

  • Ray Please Ban The Rolex

    When you spend centuries killing your neighbours, but when Europeans do it it's different and evil 😎👍

  • Pandora Kepler Facts and Stories

    How can you you celebrate ? As per my knowledge Colombus was the one who infected the Native Americans with Disease that he brought from Europe in order to kill the Native population. This disease killed 90% of the Population Isnt it ?

  • Aaron  Calderon

    All you guys did was get rid of another Holliday. We don’t get any new ones that often

  • Arindam Paul

    Europeans wrote the history which made them comfortable - now everything will change - there are more babies of non-European origin than European. Now, the truths will come out.

  • joshua ostapko

    I feel as we should have a colombus day but then also have a day for native Americans such as indigenous people day

  • moist faucet

    He discover the new world. Amazing......just like i travel to iceland to discover them.

  • Maximiliano Zuñixtli

    We should throw out Columbus Day & create Election Day instead to get people involved to act in their own government...

  • Cosmic Centaur

    I remember (and this is sort of unrelated to Columbus) during a history class of our country, Venezuela, our professor showed us a letter from one of the spanish colonists where he talked about indigenous women and how they were the perfect lovers, showing so much skin and how they just stayed still and quiet and let them rape them after just a few hits. Americans are completely in the wrong about celebrating any kind of colonialism (or imperialism!) because all the colonists sent here were really awful people, plus Columbus wasn't really involved in British colonialism. But I do think it's ridiculous to hate so much on a guy that's been dead for centuries and it's sort of responsable for how our nations came to be here in America.

  • Andrea Macconi

    A part from the fact that Bartolomeo De Las Casas was only 8 years old at the time of Columbus's travels in the caribbean, and so the "information" given by the video from 2.00 to 2.17 is complete bullshit, i think that judging Culumbus's action by modern standards and modern morals is silly. In fact all the explorers of the late XV and XVI century were motivadet by a lust for fame wealth and power, also i would like to point out the fact that the majority of native americans were killed not directly by the europeans but by the diseases, like smallpox, bringed by the spanish, portuguese, and later british and french settlers. This video is misleading and historically inaccurate

  • HooDatDonDar

    Great men often suffer greatly. And where there is greatness, there is great error. Columbus was no exception, by all accounts. I consider Columbus one of the greatest men who ever lived, certainly since the time of Christ. I would therefore expect him to be demonized. Nevertheless, whether denounced by modern American Indian protesters paid by white liberals, or condemned by his own contemporary countrymen, the rage against Columbus has ever but slightly shadowed his true accomplishments. Anger is a weak ideology. True greatness is untouchable and triumphant, even if it's crucified along the way. As an American Indian—a Comanche—I find no objection at all to the Columbus venture. Columbus, having never encountered my people, or any other American Indian tribe, certainly deserves a dispassionate opinion from me. I find it stifling to be denied the wonderment his adventure affords. I find it demeaning to be coerced by political correctness to associate his name with every ill experienced by the American Indian subsequent to his arrival in the Caribbean. Fortunately, Columbus' name and adventure survived the contumely over the centuries. The liberal-backed Indians who protest today really represent the weakest criticism of all, the least logical, and the worst construct. Yes, in 1500 Columbus was brought back from the Caribbean to Castile—in chains. But there was earthly logic in that. Comendador Bobadilla, the Spanish governor of Hispaniola, saw some bloody evidence (hanging bodies of Spaniards—punished by Columbus), immediately misinterpreted it and took advantage of it, in the name of the Crown and his own power. On the other hand, today's mythical association of every known Indian personal pang with the name of Columbus is utterly irrational. And not only was Bobadilla himself cruel to the Caribbean Indians, but today's liberal political abuse of Indians is equally cruel, in my opinion. It is a spiritual slavery, of imaginary or misconceived injustice, that liberals impose on the minds of Indians. To tell Indians they must denounce Judeo-Christian European civilization is like making them bark at the moon. What is accomplished by encouraging perpetual discontent? It is an ultimately self-destructive anger that the liberals offer Indians. I for one Indian deeply resent and reject this puppet role, this wooden Indian posture. Give me the aspirations of Columbus. Give me the world to explore! That feels a lot better. One who is often lauded in the ranks of liberals is Kirkpatrick Sale, author of the terrific book, The Conquest of Paradise. Sale's book, seven years in the writing, is actually a dramatic balance of violently opposing views. The fact is Sale can't help himself. Though a renowned liberal, he cannot disguise the historical record, nor does he try. Yes, he founded the New York Green Party, and takes many opportunities to denounce the mechanical materialism of European society and its galactic expansions through America. But, the facts in the case of Columbus, the sheer telling of the story, is overwhelmingly convincing. Columbus was an extraordinarily individual. Sale simply can't tell the story any other way. It may be true that people simply need heroes. But the gainsayers never replace them with anything comparable, let alone better. Indeed, the critics can't comprehend greatness. They are but leeches, living off protesting the achievement of others. Worse, they are thieves. As college professors, they rob youth of their natural aspirations, their instinctive ambitions. They offer instead an attitude of perpetual complaint, protest, and depression. They degrade reality. Greatness speaks for itself. It is its own interpreter. the late Dr. David A. Yeagley was an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation.

  • A. Mangla

    history is a biography of madman who wins but in today times, we must just call them native americans instead of indians.

  • Shaurav Kumar Yadav

    Today Europe would call us Indian, poor, 3rd world country, Trump will say shithole but, in 15th century they all were searching our land to loot.

  • Shaurav Kumar Yadav

    Well Columbus did not reach India, but 6 years later Vasco De Gama did reach India. We Indians cant even think of celebrating Vasco day, it would be a crime knowing the fact what India faced after arrival of Europeans.

  • YPG

    So innacuarate!!!

  • YPG

    Other english video using the spanish black legend! 😒😒😒

  • jake black

    A great historical figure committed atrocities? Who would have thought. When you are done being chronically offending you can accept life was a bit more brutal back in the day. The people that got celebrated were simply the ones with a vision. Natives were done the second Europeans touched ashore with their communicable diseases. 90%-95% of natives were wiped out simply from disease.

  • Gerson Morales

    Thanks to this man, North American history never would’ve been the same

  • Jacob Neal

    Isn't it cool how Native American descendants from where the US is are complaining about a conquest in Southern America, it turns me on.

  • Silas Bishop

    Jesus, I thought that "native activist" was GW Bush.

  • Silas Bishop

    Columbus is a hero to Western Civilization. He opened up the Americas to western settlement. Thank You Columbus!

  • d.u.g. Drilly

    dont forget the Malian and the Viking that actally DID make it to 'America' over 100years before Columbus was thought of.

  • Homer Simpson

    He brought diversity to a monoracial nation, what a hero.

  • SoulTrial

    I don’t think you mentioned that some Native American tribes joined the explorers to take down the big ones. Like the Aztecs. The Aztecs enslaved people, killed people, and forced other tribes to tax them. Explorers and Native Americans took that empire down and Native Americans have been waring each other for centuries. Do you really think a small group of explorers can beat millions of Native Americans alone? You are making it sound like explorers came and killed a bunch of Peacekeepers. Which is very incorrect, also, if you think that a bunch of half naked men with bows and spears will beat men with guns and horses. Then you are just wrong. Diseases did kill many Native Americans but that was not the explorers intention. They didn’t come to the new world to kill everyone with diseases they came there for land, gold, and raw materials.

  • Kakto Tak

    Does anybody has any evidence or support for the claim that the conventional wisdom of the Columbus time was that the Earth was round?

  • Chiara Del Rio

    Didn't Fernando what's the one that proved the world was round not Columbus

  • interanaut

    So what if millions of Indian died? Why should we care.? Humans are meant to be killed right? What about people of iraq, afgan, yaman, Syria? US. Is doing the same what columbus did to them.

  • Andres Rodriguez

    I assume a columbus day sale means I can just walk in and take whatever I want

  • A FPX

    If you want a real explanation of Columbus check the channel “knowing better” and not this

  • Ignacio García

    You should make a video about VOX, the far right party that is becoming more powerful in Spain (that has the same name as your channel)

  • 1503nemanja

    You are intentionally misleading people. Columbus largely was not responsible for the worst offenses committed, and most came after his role was finished. The channel Knowing Better has a good vid about what Columbus was and was not responsible for. So why are natives mad at him, he did not harm them or their ancestors personally and if not him some other European would uncover America and then the same would happen. Especially US Native Americans have no reason to hate him. As a non-American I think the best solution is to celebrate both Columbus Day and Native American Day on the same day and let everyone pick what they like and it creates unity since it celebrates both those who were already there and those who came later. Maybe rename it to Reconciliation Day and let everyone celebrate the legacy they like, native or colonial, or ideally both. Anyway I see no reason to hate on Columbus, his supposed vileness is greatly exaggerated and his good sides forgotten, both in case of him personally and what his arrival lead to.

  • José Andreu

    You "opressed people" always weeping. Dude, consquest has been cruel throughout the whole world history. It keeps same nowadays, don´t cry about people you never knew (since they are just another conquered peoples in history) and about opression you never experienced. Is that hard to celebrate an event that brought development and joy to the world as it was america's colonization? Yeah it was cruel, but which event in international human contact wasn't ?

  • DSWynne

    The Native American community should have their own "Indigenous People's Day". Why? Trying to rename a day smacks reactionary activism (kind of like how Marxist, Islamists and even Christians have had a history of destroying holidays and cultures). The community should be proactive, in that they should choose a day that has nothing to do with Columbus. Celebrate the different "nations" that exist on the North American continent. And if this day is suppose to be American-centric, then I propose making September 17th as Indigenous People's Day. Why? It was the first treaty signed between the Delaware Indians and the United States government (Treaty of Fort Pitt, 1778). Alternatively, make a day in early November Indigenous People's Day. Why? November is Native American Heritage Month. In other words, promote Amerind Culture and History in a way that enhances the American Experience, not damage it with identity politics. Not necessary.

  • i C

    And yet we ignore the similar things the natives did

  • White People

    Vox - Form your opinion, then do your research to fit information to that opinion.

  • White People

    We do not celebrate Columbus because he discovered the united STATES of America... we celebrate him because he discovered the AMERICAS. (not counting Leif Erikson)

  • Alexis Sarabia

    Nobody celebrates Columbus day, its just a no work day for some people.

  • Shawn

    If I ever have kids. I’ll teach them REAL history. Not whitewashed glamorized history that waters down the atrocities committed by colonizers AROUND the world There’s ZERO purpose to celebrate Columbus Day

  • whitedevilvaz

    Columbus nationality is still disputed. It is not certain he was italian. He could have also been portuguese or spanish.

  • Rick Foley

    Another reason to hate myself. Well played, Vox.