The True Story of Christopher Columbus HTML version
How The Story Turns Out
Whenever you start to read a story that you hope will be interesting, you always wonder,
do you not, how it is going to turn out? Your favorite fairy tale or wonder story that
began with "once upon a time," ends, does it not, "so the prince married the beautiful
princess, and they lived happy ever after?"
Now, how does this story that we have been reading together turn out? You don't think it
ended happily, do you? It was, in some respects, more marvelous than any fairy tale or
wonder story; but, dear me! you say, why couldn't Columbus have lived happily, after he
had gone through so much, and done so much, and discovered America, and given us
who came after him so splendid a land to live in?
Now, just here comes the real point of the story. Wise men tell us that millions upon
millions of busy little insects die to make the beautiful coral islands of the Southern seas.
Millions and millions of men and women have lived and labored, died and been forgotten
by the world they helped to make the bright, and beautiful, and prosperous place to live in
that it is to-day.
Columbus was one of these millions; but he was a leader among them and has not been
forgotten. As the world has got farther away from the time in which he lived, the man
Columbus, who did so much and yet died almost unnoticed, has grown more and more
famous; his name is immortal, and to-day he is the hero Columbus—one of the world's
We, in America, are fond of celebrating anniversaries. I suppose the years that you boys
and girls have thus far lived have been the most remarkable in the history of the world for
celebrating anniversaries. For fully twenty years the United States has been keeping its
birthday. The celebration commenced long before you were born, with the one hundredth
anniversary of the Battle of Lexington (in 1875). It has not ended yet. But in 1892, We
celebrated the greatest of all our birthdays—the discovery of the continent that made it
possible for us to be here at all.
Now this has not always been so with us. I suppose that in 1592 and in 1692 no notice
whatever was taken of the twelfth day of October, on which—one hundred and two
hundred years before—Columbus had landed on that flat little "key" known as Watling's
Island down among the West Indies, and had begun a new chapter in the world's
wonderful story. In 1592, there was hardly anybody here to celebrate the anniversary—in
fact, there was hardly anybody here at all, except a few Spanish settlers in the West
Indies, in Mexico, and in Florida. In 1692, there were a few scattered settlements of
Frenchmen in Canada, of Englishmen in New England, Dutchmen in New York, Swedes
in Delaware, and Englishmen in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. But none of these
people loved the Spaniards. They hated them, indeed; for there had been fierce fighting
going on for nearly a hundred years between Spain and England, and you couldn't find an
Englishman, a Dutchman or a Swede who was willing to say a good word for Spain, or