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The True Story of Christopher Columbus
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Boy With An Idea
Men who do great things are men we all like to read about. This is the story of
Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America. He lived four hundred years
ago. When he was a little boy he lived in Genoa. It was a beautiful city in the
northwestern part of the country called Italy. The mountains were behind it; the sea was
in front of it, and it was so beautiful a place that the people who lived there called it
"Genoa the Superb." Christopher Columbus was born in this beautiful city of Genoa in
the year 1446, at number 27 Ponticello Street. He was a bright little fellow with a fresh-
looking face, a clear eye and golden hair. His father's name was Domenico Columbus; his
mother's name was Susanna. His father was a wool-comber. He cleaned and straightened
out the snarled-up wool that was cut from the sheep so as to make it ready to be woven
Christopher helped his father do this when he grew strong enough, but he went to school,
too, and learned to read and write and to draw maps and charts. These charts were maps
of the sea, to show the sailors where they could steer without running on the rocks and
sand, and how to sail safely from one country to another.
This world was not as big then as it is now—or, should say, people did not know it was
as big. Most of the lands that Columbus had studied about in school, and most of the
people he had heard about, were in Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. The city of
Genoa where Columbus lived was a very busy and a very rich city. It was on the
Mediterranean Sea, and many of the people who lived there were sailors who went in
their ships on voyages to distant lands. They sailed to other places on the Mediterranean
Sea, which is a very large body of water, you know, and to England, to France, to
Norway, and even as far away as the cold northern island of Iceland. This was thought to
be a great journey.
The time in which Columbus lived was not as nice a time as is this in which you live.
People were always quarreling and fighting about one thing or another, and the sailors
who belonged to one country would try to catch and steal the ships or the things that
belonged to the sailors or the storekeepers of another country. This is what we call piracy,
and a pirate, you know, is thought to be a very wicked man.
But when Columbus lived, men did not think it was so very wicked to be a sort of half-
way pirate, although they did know that they would be killed if they were caught. So
almost every sailor was about half pirate. Every boy who lived near the seashore and saw
the ships and the sailors, felt as though he would like to sail away to far-off lands and see
all the strange sights and do all the brave things that the sailors told about. Many of them
even said they would like to be pirates and fight with other sailors, and show how strong
and brave and plucky they could be.