Much has been articulated and written about Columbus not being the one who discovered North America. Various groups have made claims, such as: his voyages landed him in the Caribbean and not the Americas; he was not the first European to visit the “New World", the Vikings were; Amerigo Vespucci discovered and named the Americas and not Columbus; no one discovered the New World since millions of people already lived here; etc.
Although each of the claims have a kernel of truth built into them, when they are evaluated, using quantitative and qualitative measures, they either don't have enough relevancy or the claims have been based on documents that were forged, untrue, or unreliable. For any evidence to be reliable it has to show that it is valid, credible, and it can be proven through action research. For any evidence to be relevant, it has to establish a strong connection between it and what it's aiming to establish.
In support of the reliability conjectures, let’s take a look at a not so long ago event. In 1950, a map surfaced in Europe that showed the “Island of Vinland” within the Newfoundland area, supposedly dating back between early 1400s and mid-1400s, nearly 60 years before Columbus first voyage. It was thought to be one of the oldest maps of America and the first European depiction of Viking travels to the New World. An American dealer, Laurence C. Witten III, bought the map for $3,500, in the early 1960s, and offered to sell it to Yale it for $300,000. Yale declined to purchase it. However, a wealthy alumnus, Paul Mellon chose to purchase the map and donated it to the Connecticut University. The map was publicized and trumpeted as a real Vinland Map, but under close scrutiny, it turned out to be a a fake, a forgery. In 1966, shortly after it was publicized, scholars began to raise questions by pointing to several inconsistencies with other established sources. The experts used a technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to examine the ink that was used across the entire map. Their analysis showed indisputable evidence that the ink contained titanium. The metal titatium was not available prior to the 1920s.
In support to the relevancy conjecture, lets explore the Vikings a bit further. Yes it is indeed true that the people of early medieval Scandinavia (popularly called Vikings today) were constant travelers. They reached the coasts of France and England. The Name Vinland, also spelled "Winland", appears in the Vinland Sagas (sagas: documents written years after they occurred), and presumably describes Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, in Canada. The name Vinland was intended to describe a place to cultivate vineyards to produce wine. The Vinland Sagas comprise of two Icelandic Sagas, the Saga of Erick the Red and the Sagas of the Greenlanders. These stories were preserved by word of mouth until they were written down some 250 years after the events. Hence we do not have an authentic or relevant historical accountings of the Sagas anywhere.
But, having said all that, archaeologists have indeed uncovered an 11th-century Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, confirming that the Vikings did travel from Iceland to Greenland and to the Canadian coast during that period. The settlement is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. The settlement, however, is relatively small, was short-lived, and succumbed to their own infighting. Their failure to establish some sort of strong connection between themselves and their new land seems to rightfully prevent them from having any level of relevancy for their accomplishments. In addition, their discovery did not enlighten others to pursue their travel routes and establish further contacts with the New World.
In addition, we can further exemplify and amplify the importance that relevancy plays in establishing the validity of a claim by examining the recent case of Mark Zuckerberg vs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. They, as classmates, along with four other classmates came up with the idea to create a social network to connect Harvard students with one another. Although the classmates have some legitimacy in being participants of the initial creation of the giant social network, Mark Zuckerberg has been able to retain full ownership of the company because he was the one who registered the domain name: facebook.com and made it relevant in 2004 by launching it as a social media website The classmates sued Mr. Zuckerman twice over the rights of ownership with both suits settled out court for $65 million dollars, as compensation for their contribution. The plaintiffs settled out court because they were not able to establish an effective level of relevancy for their case. It was Mark Zuckerberg who had made Facebook relevant and functional and not them.
Still, the question remains, "Did Columbus “discover” America? Or did the Vikings do it" In every significant way, Columbus did!!! Even if others visited the continent sporadically before he did, their voyages had no historical relevancy. From what we know, after spending the winter in Vinland, Leif Erick went back to Greenland, and never returned to the North American shores. He is generally thought to have been the first European to reach the North American continent, nearly four centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. But, let’s be real here. The whole discovery remained dormant for 400 years!!! Neither he nor anyone else used his discovered route to the Americas for any additional voyages to the continent. It was not until five years after Columbus first voyage, in1497, that John Cabot, an Italian navigator, commissioned by King Henry VII of England, returned to Newfoundland and his return eventually gave the green-light to the British government to claim that part of North America as their territory.
As for Amerigo Vespucci being the one who discovered the Americas can easily be disproved, due to the timing of his voyages. After Columbus first voyage, explorations to find new routes to the West to reach the Far East greatly intensified in Europe and explorers were commissioned by the wealthy to find such new routes and lands. Amerigo Vespucci, as a wealthy merchant from Florence, embarked on his first voyage, on May 10, 1497. He was the first navigator to realize America was a whole new continent. and not part of Asia. Prior to Vespucci, Columbus, along with other European explorers, as well as the Asians and Africans merchants had assumed that the new land was part of Asia. On his third voyage, Vespucci reached Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata. Believing he had discovered a new continent with his realization that the "new land" was not contiguous with Asia, he named it South America and in 1507, the Americas were named after him to honor his wisdom.
In conclusion, Columbus’ voyages indisputably marked the end of thousands of years of isolation between the Western Hemisphere and the rest of the world. First of all, he showed that it was possible to sail west from Europe across the Atlantic Ocean. His journeys to the Americas gave birth to the desire for European countries to further explore and colonize those lands and establish commerce. Plants, native to the Americas, (such as potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and tobacco) were imported to Europe. Also the recorded history of the Americas and the Caribbean starts with Columbus and his journals. These are undeniable and reliable facts. We can say, in quantitative and qualitative measures, that Columbus has on his side the most relevant and reliable evidence of being the " father" of exploration and courage to the many explorers of his generation and the others that followed. Hence the honors bestowed on him over the years should remain as they are and not be cancelled in accordance to the recent "impulsive and capricious decree" that has been growing and continue to sprout everywhere!!!!.