‘He didn’t discover America he invaded it’: Protesters now rally to REMOVE statue of Christopher Columbus from Manhattan after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was under review as a ‘symbol of hate’ The Daily Mail.
As an Australian heading for the New World one of the first things to strike me is that it’s not all that new. By the time Captain James Cook found the east coast of Australia in 1770 Columbus had found an island near the east coast of America (1492), the Mayflower had deposited the Pilgrim Fathers in Massachusetts (1620) (an event that captured the American imagination far more successfully than the first English Colony at Jamestown, Virginia founded 13 years earlier) and about 2 million colonists had followed them. The struggle for independence was underway.
On the 4th of July six years after Cook named Point Hicks America declared its independence. The loss of America may well have been the catalyst for British settlement of Australia in 1788.
Indeed, so ancient is the New World that the Scots were founding colonies in North America prior to Union with England in 1707.
Australia, as a country rather than a bunch of colonies, dates from just 1901. It’s brand new.
Although I must point out that both continents were inhabited long before our European explorers put them on Europe’s map. Wouldn’t want the blog to be considered a symbol of hate. And just for completeness let’s add that neither of these great explorers were the first Europeans to reach the respective land masses. History can be so fickle.
Just imagine those heady days of pride and optimism. Days when we could celebrate the 4th of July or the 26th of January or erect statues to our heroes.
Obliterating history doesn’t change it – just makes it harder to learn from. Civic pride seems so much more constructive than communal self loathing.
One thought on “The New World …”
Why are statues so in vogue at the moment? Apart from America I heard a discussion on UK Radio about Nelson’s column and putting up the first female statue around Westminster. Nelson’s Column here in Ireland was blown up quite a few years ago! I’m putting up a statue in my garden when it stops raining, its supposed to be Neptune, I hope I don;t get a bunch of protesters! Good blog always nice to hear from “down under.”