Prosperity is the measure or touchstone of virtue, for it is less difficult to bear misfortune than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure. — Tacitus

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber




Death of Columbus

Eight years after his first journey across the Atlantic Columbus returned to Spain a prisoner! The captain of the vessel wanted to remove his chains, but Columbus proudly said that as they had been put on by the orders of his sovereigns, he would wear them until the king and queen set him free. He also added that he would keep those chains as long as he lived, and have them buried with him, so that people might know how unjustly he had been treated. It is said that the fetters hung six years over his bed, and that, at his request, they were placed in his coffin and buried with him.

When Columbus reached Spain the sensation was great. The people, who had been at first enthusiastic and then indifferent about him, were now indignant that he should be treated so unjustly, and when Isabella received a letter, telling her how he had been insulted, her heart was filled with pity.

She immediately sent a messenger to remove Columbus's chains, and summoned him to court, where she wept with him when she heard him describe his sufferings. But although Isabella promised that his honors should all be given back to him, and that she would soon fit out a new expedition for him, she kept him waiting two long years.

In 1502 Columbus set out on his fourth and last journey, not as ruler of the new lands, but merely as explorer. After a stormy passage, he reached the colony at Haiti, where the governor refused to allow him to land. Columbus told this man that a tempest was coming up, and that it would not be safe for any one to leave the port. But the governor would not believe him, and ordered some Spanish vessels, which were laden with gold and ready to start, to set out for Spain.

They no sooner got out of the harbor than the storm overtook and sorely damaged them. But Columbus, who had warned them of the danger, safely weathered the storm, and, sailing on, he explored the coast of Central America, still seeking a road to India.

Columbus was now old and ill; so after coming to a part of the coast which he took for the Spice Islands because he found spices there, and after suffering shipwreck, he returned to Haiti and thence to Spain. There he soon heard that Isabella, Queen of Castile and Leon (parts of Spain), was dead, and his sorrow at her loss made his health worse than ever. The Spaniards, knowing his principal friend was gone, now treated him even more scornfully than before, and mockingly called him "Lord of Mosquito Land," because there were so many mosquitoes along the South American coast.

These insults, added to his disappointment at not finding India, helped to make Columbus's illness fatal; and feeling that he was about to die, he wrote his will, leaving his title of admiral to his son. He passed away in the month of May, 1506, saying: "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."

Buried at Valladolid, his body was removed first to Seville, then to Santo Domingo, in Haiti, then to Havana, in Cuba, and finally, after the relinquishment of Cuba by Spain in 1898, back to Seville again. After his death, people began to realize what a great man Columbus was, and King Ferdinand, who had been so unkind to him while he lived, put up a monument in his honor, on which was later inscribed the motto: "To Castile and Leon Columbus gave a new world."

Since then, many monuments have been erected and many pictures painted of the man who, in spite of poverty, illness, and countless obstacles, never gave up his aim, and manfully strove to reach it as long as he lived. His faith, his courage, and his perseverance have served as shining examples for more than four hundred years, and although he died poor and neglected, he is rightly considered one of the world's greatest men.



Contents

Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell