Christopher Columbus, an Italian adventurer, set sail across the Atlantic Ocean on August 3, 1492. He set sail from Palos de la Frontera, Spain, with a crew of 90 men and three ships: the Nia, Pinta, and Santa Maria. Because the Earth is round, Columbus reasoned that he might sail west to reach “the east” (the lucrative lands of India and China). That argument was sound, but the Earth is considerably larger than Columbus imagined, huge enough for him to come upon two massive continents (the “New World” of the Americas) that were mostly unknown to Europeans.
At 61 days, Columbus arrived in what is today the Bahamas. Initially, he believed his plan had worked and that the ships had arrived in India. Indeed, he referred to the indigenous people as “Indians,” a derogatory term that regrettably stuck.