10. October 2005 · Comments Off on Is North America Celebrating The Wrong Italian? · Categories: History

A very interesting piece from James C. Bennett at UPI

The interesting thing to me was the complete absence of anything representing the United States. This was not a coincidence. Columbus, and the holiday celebrating his landing in the New World, are seen throughout the Spanish-speaking world as having to do primarily with the extension of Spanish-speaking, Catholic civilization to the New World and the creation, through a conflicted encounter, of a new culture. It is, to coin a phrase, the creation of the Hispanosphere that is commemorated.


Although Cabot’s voyage to Newfoundland was undoubtedly spurred by news of Columbus’s voyages, the expanding English maritime enterprise would sooner or later have recapitulated the Viking achievements in the North Atlantic. There are interesting conjectures about prior voyages from the British Isles to North America before Columbus, from Bristol fishermen working the Grand Banks (not unlikely) to other, more speculative theories, such as Farley Mowat’s ideas about voyagers from the Orkneys preceding the Vikings in the Dark Ages.

Whatever the realities of these theories, it is the expansion of the cultures and traditions that form the template on which today’s societies in the U.S. and English Canada that we should commemorate. Columbus, whatever his merits and demerits may be, is in this regard beside the point. If Americans of Italian descent wish to point with pride to a predecessor in discovery, perhaps we should look at Giovanni Caboto, another Italian navigator. Moving to England, he adopted the English style of his name and became known to history as the discoverer … John Cabot.

Not only did Cabot’s discoveries spark the great stream of human migration that became the English-speaking New World, he was himself a precursor of the millions of Italians who crossed the Atlantic to North America and became part of the English-speaking world, to its and their own enrichment.

Read the whole thing.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

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