35 Columbus Day Quotes: Celebrating the Spirit of Discovery and Exploration
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35 Columbus Day Quotes: Celebrating the Spirit of Discovery and Exploration

Columbus Day is a federal holiday in the United States where citizens celebrate the arrival of explorer Christopher Columbus in America or the ‘New World’. His journey aimed at finding new trading routes to Asia and the Spice Islands. He landed on October 12th, 1492, on an island part of the Bahamas, which he named San Salvador. Now the holiday is celebrated on every 9th October.

This holiday was initially implemented for deeper reasons other than celebrating exploration. The 9th president of the US, William Henry Harrison, unofficially put it in place in 1892 to pay respect to the Italian immigrants who were prejudiced and persecuted in the 1890s. Columbus was an Italian who sailed to America searching for business opportunities.

It was finally passed as a federal holiday in 1937 by Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt after pressure from the Catholic organization known as Knights of Colombus.

In this article, we will show you great quotes to share with others on this Colombus Day.

Quotes from Christopher Columbus Himself

Christopher Columbus’ excellent mind and courage for exploration also means that he had some wisdom to spew on various subjects. We have shown you some of his famous quotes on religion, exploration, and life as a whole below.

  1. By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.
  1. Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world and succeeds in helping souls into paradise.
  1. Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped.
  1. Riches don’t make a man rich, they only make him busier.
  1. For this purpose, I am determined to keep an account of the voyage and to write down punctually everything we performed or saw from day to day, as will appear hereafter.
  1. Life has more imagination than we carry in our dreams.
  1. Each day we understand better what the Indians say, and they us, so that very often we are intelligible to each other.
  1. It is easy to discover what another has discovered before.
  1. You can never cross the ocean unless you dare to lose sight of the shore.
  1. Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. Those who are enlightened before the others are condemned to pursue that light despite the others.

Modern Perspectives: Quotes Reflecting on Columbus Day

The modern outlook on Columbus Day is harmful because of the hurtful ties to it such as the invasion of the indigenous people’s land. So to give the holiday a positive part, some people choose to share about exploration on this day, particularly sea voyages, and Italian or Native American cultures.

  1. Some people choose to celebrate Columbus Day not because they refuse to pay attention to injustice, but because they don’t care.
  1. Modernity should come with modern thinking. We are now sensitized to not just care about them, but empathize with them.
  1. Christopher Columbus saw colored people as nothing more than slaves. Anyone who doesn’t want to acknowledge that also has his mindset.
  1. Indigenous people now have been empowered. Their ancestors would be very proud.
  1. Modernity brought forth a new day for marginalized communities. This is a chance to avenge our ancestors and ourselves.

Inspirational Quotes on Exploration and Discovery

Exploration requires courage and bravery, all of which Columbus had. On Columbus Day, people celebrate the beauty, benefits, and inspiration brought by discovering new things, likes, and experiences.

  1. Adventurous people are the ones always courageous enough to change the world because they dare to dream.
  1. Adventure and exploration have always made doors open for people.
  1. Exploration changes your outlook on life. It makes it more interesting and builds a much-needed rebellious attitude.
  1. Exploration teaches first-hand that bravery doesn’t mean the absence of fear, but doing what you want to do.
  1. An adventurous person is also a happy person.

Contemplative Quotes on the Impact of Columbus’s Journey

When a lot of digging and reasoning is done concerning Columbus’s exploration, you will see that the journey did more than open trade routes to Asia. There were long-lasting impacts that were made on different groups that shaped history. Here are some quotes recounting that.

  1. Columbus’s journey was only seen as beneficial to colonizers and they managed to sell that it was beneficial for centuries.
  1. Although Columbus was brutal to people, his actions brought to light injustices, and focus on this brought inclusion of those communities. First, it was the Italians, now it’s the Native Americans.
  1. The impacts of Columbus’s discovery of America were more negative than positive. It’s sad that we only got to act on prejudice after hundreds of years.
  1. The reality of the invasion of the native Americans’ land by colonizers only shows that marginalized communities have to fight for their freedom.
  1. It is hard to understand how people who put Columbus Day in place missed the racism part.

Literary References: Quotes from Books and Poems about Columbus Day

Some books were written on Columbus, his exploration, its effects, and his time as governor in America. They all have different outlooks that we have highlighted for you below.

  1. “And he had mused on lands each bird,—

That winged from realms of Falerina,

O’er seas of the Enchanted Sword,—

In romance sang him, till he heard

Vague foam on Islands of Alcina.”

Excerpt from ‘The Boy Columbus’

by Madison Cawein

  1. “We see the unmistakable face and handprints of black Africans in pre-Columbian America, and their overwhelming impact on the civilizations they encountered” -They Came Before Columbus: The African Presence in Ancient America (Journal of African Civilizations) by Ivan Van Sertima
  1. “When Columbus landed in 1492, the New World was far from being a vast expanse of space; it was home to some seventy-five million people. They ranged from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, spoke as many as two thousand different languages, and lived in groups that varied from small bands of hunter-gatherers to the sophisticated and dazzling empires of the Incas and Aztecs” – America in 1492: The World of the Indian Peoples Before the Arrival of Columbus by Alvin M. Josephy Jr., Frederick E. Hoxie (Editor)
  1. “Why rethink Christopher Columbus? Because the Columbus myth is a foundation of children’s beliefs about society. Columbus is often a child’s first lesson about encounters between different cultures and races. The murky legend of a brave adventurer tells children whose version of history to accept, and whose to ignore. It says nothing about the brutality of the European invasion of North America” – Rethinking Columbus
  1. “He went for the long route

Which they said was the wrong route

But he kept on, like a terrier

Till he landed in America.”

Excerpt from the ‘Voyage of Columbus’ – C. Richard Miles

Cultural Impact: Quotes from Popular Culture and Media

Pop culture has always influenced how a large number of people view something. Like any other topic, Columbus Day and its impacts have been discussed. Some quotes show what pop culture and the media think of Columbus Day.

  1. Changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day feels like a long-awaited happy ending.
  1. If Christopher Columbus was a politician today, his cancellation would be a mark of history among indigenous people.
  1. We should feel free to use media to shame anyone who thinks they can discriminate against us.
  1. We should acknowledge how modernity has brought about the courageousness of people in marginalized communities to stand up for themselves and their ancestors too.
  1. The arrival of media and pop culture has given marginalized people the tools to deal with racists and racism.

Conclusion: The Lasting Legacy of Columbus Day

The Italians who immigrated to America in the 1890s were poverty-stricken peasants in search of better lives. Southern Italy especially had poor soils leading to deficiency diseases, not to mention the mistreatment of the poor. The anti-Italian discrimination started occurring when the present Americans felt threatened by the way the immigrant Italians took the blue-collar jobs they believed belonged to only them.

Columbus Day is usually celebrated by honoring Italian heritage. Italian food is made, and cultural wear is worn in colorful parades and ceremonies. In some trains, floats are depicting the sailing ships of the explorer. U.S. federal government offices and some banks also close.

However, there is some controversy to this holiday today. When he became governor of the Natives, he mistreated and enslaved them, even killing many of them. His iniquities came to light when he was replaced in 1500 by a new governor, Francisco de Bobadilla, and the natives reported the torture Colombus subjected to them.

After the increased anti-racial protests in 2020, Columbus’ brutality was given more attention than his achievements. Now, he remains a symbol of the oppression and land-grabbing of the Native Americans.

It is also important to note that America wasn’t empty when Columbus discovered it. It was occupied for thousands of years by a people called Clovis and Pre-Clovis people, whose genes are now present in the Native Americans. However, Christopher Columbus was honored for discovering America because he made America known to a very powerful Europe that chose to recognize him.

Today, most states have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. Now they celebrate the original inhabitants of America before its discovery by Colombus and bring to light the invasion of their territories by colonial masters. 

Vincent Otieno

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