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Printable Columbus Day Story for kids - The True Story of Christopher ColumbusColumbus Day Stories

The True Story of Christopher Columbus
- A Chapter Book

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

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Christopher Columbus True Stories for Teachers
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Home > Holidays > Columbus Day > The True Story of Christopher Columbus > Chapter 14

Chapter 14 - 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 greatest men.

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 thank God for the man who sailed away in Spanish ships to discover America two hundred years before.

In 1792, people did think a little more about this, and there were a few who did remember that, three hundred years before, Columbus had found the great continent upon which, in that year 1792, a new republic, called the United States of America, had only just been started after a long and bloody war of rebellion and revolution.

We do not find, however, that in that year of 1792 there were many, if any, public celebrations of the Discovery of America, in America itself. A certain American clergyman, however, whose name was the Rev. Elhanan Winchester, celebrated the three hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America by Columbus. And he celebrated it not in America, but in England, where he was then living. On the twelfth of October, 1792, Winchester delivered an address on "Columbus and his Discoveries," before a great assembly of interested listeners. In that address he said some very enthusiastic and some very remarkable things about the America that was to be:

"I see the United States rise in all their ripened glory before me," he said. "I look through and beyond every yet peopled region of the New World, and behold period still brightening upon period. Where one contiguous depth of gloomy wilderness now shuts out even the beams of day, I see new States and empires, new seats of wisdom and knowledge, new religious domes spreading around. In places now untrod by any but savage beasts, or men as savage as they, I hear the voices of happy labor, and see beautiful cities rising to view. I behold the whole continent highly cultivated and fertilized, full of cities, towns and villages, beautiful and lovely beyond expression. I hear the praises of my great Creator sung upon the banks of those rivers now unknown to song. Behold the delightful prospect! See the silver and gold of America employed in the service of the Lord of the whole earth! See slavery, with all its train of attendant evils, forever abolished! See a communication opened through the whole continent, from North to South and from East to West, through a most fruitful country. Behold the glory of God extending, and the gospel spreading through the whole land!"

Of course, it was easy for a man to see and to hope and to say all this; but it is a little curious, is it not, that he should have seen things just as they have turned out?

In Mr. Winchester's day, the United States of America had not quite four millions of inhabitants. In his day Virginia was the largest State--in the matter of population --Pennsylvania was the second and New York the third. Philadelphia was the greatest city, then followed New York, Boston, Baltimore and Charleston. Chicago was not even thought of.

To-day, four hundred years after Columbus first saw American shores, one hundred and sixteen years after the United States were started in life by the Declaration of American Independence, these same struggling States of one hundred years ago are joined together to make the greatest and most prosperous nation in the world. With a population of more than sixty-two millions of people; with the thirteen original States grown into forty-four, with the population of its three largest cities--New York; Philadelphia and Chicago--more than equal to the population of the whole country one hundred years ago; with schools and colleges and happy homes brightening the whole broad land that now stretches from ocean to ocean, the United States leads all other countries in the vast continent Columbus discovered. Still westward, as Columbus led, the nation advances; and, in a great city that Columbus could never have imagined, and that the prophet of one hundred years ago scarcely dreamed of, the mighty Republic in 1892 invited all the rest of the world to join with it in celebrating the four hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America by Columbus the Admiral. And to do this celebrating fittingly and grandly, it built up the splendid White City by the great Fresh Water Sea.

Columbus was a dreamer; he saw such wonderful visions of what was to be, that people, as we know, tapped their foreheads and called him "the crazy Genoese." But not even the wildest fancies nor the most wonderful dreams of Columbus came anywhere near to what he would really have seen if--he could have visited the Exposition at Chicago, in the great White City by the lake--a "show city" specially built for the World's Fair of 1893, given in his honor and as a monument to his memory.

Why, he would say, the Cathay that I spent my life trying to find was but a hovel alongside this! What would he have seen? A city stretching a mile and a half in length, and more than half a mile in breadth; a space covering over five hundred acres of ground, and containing seventeen magnificent buildings, into any one of which could have been put the palaces of all the kings and queens of Europe known to Columbus's day. And in these buildings he would have seen gathered together, all the marvelous and all the useful things, all the beautiful and all the delightful things that the world can make to-day, arranged and displayed for all the world to see. He would have stood amazed in that wonderful city of glass and iron, that surpassingly beautiful city, all of purest white, that had been built some eight miles from the center of big and busy Chicago, looking out upon the blue waters of mighty Lake Michigan. It was a city that I wish all the boys and girls of America--especially all who read this story of the man in whose honor it was built, might have visited. For as they saw all its wonderful sights, studied its marvelous exhibits, and enjoyed its beautiful belongings, they would have been ready to say how proud, and glad, and happy they were to think that they were American girls and boys, living in this wonderful nineteenth century that has been more crowded with marvels, and mysteries, and triumphs than any one of the Arabian Nights ever contained.

But, whether you saw the Columbian Exhibition or not, you can say that. And then stop and think what a parrot did. That is one of the most singular things in all this wonder story you are reading. Do you not remember how, when Columbus was slowly feeling his way westward, Captain Alonso Pinzon saw some parrots flying southward, and believing from this that the land they sought was off in that direction, he induced Columbus to change his course from the west to the south? If Columbus had not changed his course and followed the parrots, the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Nina, would have sailed on until they had entered the harbor of Savannah or Charleston, or perhaps the broad waters of Chesapeake Bay. Then the United States of to-day would have been discovered and settled by Spaniards, and the whole history of the land would have been quite different from what it has been. Spanish blood has peopled, but not uplifted, the countries of South America and the Spanish Main. English blood, which, following after--because Columbus had first shown the way--peopled, saved and upbuilt the whole magnificent northern land that Spain missed and lost. They have found in it more gold than ever Columbus dreamed of in his never- found Cathay; they have filled it with a nobler, braver, mightier, and more numerous people than ever Columbus imagined the whole mysterious land of the Indies contained; they have made it the home of freedom, of peace, of education, of intelligence and of progress, and have protected and bettered it until the whole world respects it for its strength, honors it for its patriotism, admires it for its energy, and marvels at it for its prosperity.

And this is what a flying parrot did: It turned the tide of lawless adventure, of gold-hunting, of slave-driving, and of selfish strife for gain to the south; it left the north yet unvisited until it was ready for the strong, and sturdy, and determined men and women who, hunting for liberty, came across the seas and founded the colonies that became in time the free and independent republic of the United States of America.

And thus has the story of Columbus really turned out. Happier than any fairy tale, more marvelous than any wonder book, the story of the United States of America is one that begins, "Once upon a time," and has come to the point where it depends upon the boys and girls who read it, to say whether or not they shall "live happily ever after."

The four hundred years of the New World's life closed its chapter of happiness in the electric lights and brilliant sunshine of the marvelous White City by Lake Michigan. It is a continued story of daring, devotion and progress, that the boys and girls of America should never tire of reading. And this story was made possible and turned out so well, because of the briefer, but no less interesting story of the daring, the devotion and the faith of the determined Genoese sailor of four hundred years ago, whom men knew as Don Christopher Columbus, the Admiral of the Ocean Seas.

 

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