Columbus was not the first European seagoing commander to land in the Americas. The Icelanders and Greenlanders preceded him by nearly five hundred years; and it is possible that in his own time fishermen from English west-country ports were fishing off Newfoundland, and may have sighted land before 1492.1 Nevertheless, the significance of historical events must be measured by their consequences. Columbus’ expedition of 1492 was the first trans-Atlantic voyage to have immediate, significant, and permanent results. Columbus, not Leif the Lucky or a nameless fisherman from Bristol, made the landfall which brought the Americas firmly within the range of European action.
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