Every time Columbus Day rolls around, there is a discussion about who really discovered America. Due to history class, the common thought is that Christopher Columbus discovered America. But there are some theories and some evidence that shows that this may not be true.
Expeditions to America predate the voyages of Christopher Columbus by hundreds of years. One of the earliest people to venture to America is the Norse in 986 AD. Led by Bjarni Herjolfsson, crews of Norsemen sailed out from Iceland towards the country of Greenland. But due to a storm, the crews got knocked off course and they began to drift southward. Reports say that he landed in America, but he left almost immediately to continue searching for Greenland.
There is evidence that Leif Ericsson also looked for the Americas. He ended up landing in North America, but just a short distance to the north of America – in Newfoundland, Canada. He had a crew of 35 men who explored the area. In 1963, researchers discovered a settlement in the area that looked like it was a Viking settlement. It dates back to more than 1000 years old, lending credibility to the story that Leif Ericsson actually founded and settled in the Americas.
There are some documents that state that Asian explorers may have been the first ones to discover and settle in the Americas. Chinese admiral Zheng is believed to be one of the first according to some records. Some of these records date all the way back to about 500 BC when Hai-Shen – a Buddhist monk from China – is stated to have reached America. Although many historians disregard these records, saying there is no credible proof of the journeys.
More recently, the Italian explorer John Cabot is one of the people who may have reached the Americas before Columbus. In 1488, he left on a voyage to England to find more opportunities to satisfy his urge for exploration. It is said that he reached North America in 1497 with a ship named Matthew. If Christopher Columbus never reached the Americas or if he landed too far north, it could be argued that Cabot would be the person who discovered and settled in America.