Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to set foot in the New World, but he was among the most important, beginning the centuries of colonization that reshaped the world at large. The Europeans were introduced to exotic crops like corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and various spices — not to mention tobacco, the development of which was one of the drivers of slavery. For their part, the American natives were completely revolutionized by the importation of beasts of burden, and horses — which they quickly mastered in use wars against the Europeans. Columbus left an indelible mark upon the world, for which he is celebrated across the Americas.
On this day, October 12, in 1792, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ landing in the New World, the Society of St. Tammany (commonly known as Tammany Hall) celebrated the first Columbus Day in the U.S.
Columbus day celebrations are hardly limited to the United State. Much of Latin America marks October 12 as Discovery Day or Day of the Race (El Día de la Raza), honoring the blending of the Spanish and indigenous cultures brought about by Columbus’ discovery by descendants of that culture. They choose to celebrate Columbus’ cultural legacy rather than his actual, more controversial, history.