|2 A Global Civilization 1492
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS died a magnificent failure. Four times he tried to find a route to Asia by sailing west across the Atlantic. When his quest ran aground against another continent, he simply insisted Cuba was part of China.
Columbus lifted sail in August 1492--and got lost. Only shouts of "Tierra,tierra!" on October 12 ended threats of mutiny. The island the natives called Guanahani, and renamed San Salvador by Columbus, is believed to have been his first landfall. He thought the native people simple and naturally good, "easy to conquer," until they resisted. Then things got ugly. His governorship of Hispaniola was the low point, an outburst of gold fever accompanied by the enslavement and slaughter of the native people. In December 1500, Columbus was arrested for his mismanagement and sent home in chains. Ideas, goods, deadly microbes and African slaves followed in the wake of his crossing. He may have stumbled on a "new world," but his adventurous spirit played no small role in creating a new, global, civilization.
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