CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS' SECOND VOYAGE
In total, Christopher Columbus carried out four voyages to the New World between 1492 and 1503. These four voyages are incredibly significant in the history of the world, as they mark the beginning of European exploration in the New World and led to other major events, such as: the Columbian Exchange, and the mass migration of European settlers to the Americas. All four voyages were financed by the Spanish monarchs and caused other powerful European nations such as England, France and Portugal to carry out their own explorations of the New World.
While Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the New World in 1492 was significant, his second voyage in 1493 was also just as important and is one of the most important events in all of world history. The second voyage to the New World by Columbus began on September 24th, 1493 when Columbus and crew left Spain. Due to the success of his first voyage, and promises of wealth in the New World, Columbus was provided with 17 ships for his second trip. On the first voyage he was only able to bring three ships in total. The 17 ships were used to carry approximately 1,200 people and all of the supplies needed for the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. These 1,200 people included priests, farmers, soldiers, and other settlers. They were coming on the voyage with the purpose of establishing new colonies and settlements throughout the New World. Also, Columbus brought with him many seeds, plants and livestock. This is important, because it relates to the Columbian Exchange (which is also known as the Grand Exchange).
The cargo and people that Columbus brought with him on the second voyage started a ‘grand exchange’ and revolution between the New World and the Old World that would alter the world forever because he had brought with him seeds, plants and livestock that were not originally occurring in the New World. The major exchange between the two worlds centered on the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases. Although the exchange began with Christopher Columbus it continued and developed throughout the remaining years of the Age of Exploration. Ultimately the Columbian Exchange impacted the social and cultural makeup of both sides of the Atlantic and dramatically impacted the people living in these regions. Click the link above to read more about the details and impacts of the Columbian Exchange.
Similar to his first voyage, Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands, which were controlled by the Spanish monarchs at the time. The islands are located south of Spain in the Atlantic Ocean and sit just 62 miles (100 kilometers) west of the country of Morocco. The ships left the Canary Islands on October 13th, 1493 and arrived in the Caribbean in early November of that year. His travels across the Atlantic took a route that ventured more south than the first voyage. As such, the ships arrived in the southeast section of the Caribbean islands. In fact, On November 3rd, Columbus spotted an island which he named ‘Dominica’. The word ‘Dominica’ translates to ‘Sunday’ in Latin. Today the island is still called Dominica.
After his arrival to the New World on his second voyage, Columbus and his crew travelled west along a string of small islands. He made landfall on several of the islands and explored a few of them for a short period of time, but continued to head north and west through the Caribbean towards the larger islands that he had first explored on his first voyage. Along the way, he is said to have visited and named many of the islands in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Sea, including: Antigua, Montserrat, Nevis, Redonda, Saba, Saint Croix, Saint Kitts, Saint Martin, Sint Eustatius and the Virgin Islands.
On the 14th of November Columbus’ men came into conflict with an indigenous group at Saint Croix. The Europeans killed the indigenous group who had supposedly been chasing and trying to kill two young indigenous boys. From there, Columbus and the ships continued to another island which Columbus named ‘San Juan Bautista’ after Saint John the Baptist. Today, the island is known as Puerto Rico and has San Juan as its capital city. Puerto Rico is just east of the island of Hispaniola, which Columbus explored on his first journey. It was at Hispaniola that Columbus left nearly 40 people from his first voyage to establish the settlement of La Navidad.
Columbus arrived at Hispaniola on his second voyage on November 22nd, 1493. He set out straight away to visit the settlement of La Navidad but was shocked to find that it had been destroyed by the Taino indigenous peoples who lived on the island. He also discovered numerous corpses from the nearly 40 people that he left to establish the settlement. As a result, he abandoned La Navidad and sailed further north along the coast of Hispaniola where he established another settlement which he called La Isabela. This new settlement was located in the modern country of Dominican Republic.
Columbus’ goal in establishing the new settlement was to find resources in the region such as precious metals. However, the settlement of La Isabela did not last long due to its poor placement. For instance, it was hit hard by hurricanes in both 1494 and 1495. As well, the Spanish settlers struggled to survive at the encampment and became upset with the lack of previous metals such as gold in the area. As a result, Columbus had to contend with growing anger and distrust among the settlers. Unable to secure the gold that he hoped, Columbus and the settlers began to capture and enslave the Taino people that lived on the island. There are reports that at least 1600 Taino were enslaved by either being transported back to Spain or by being forced into slavery on Hispaniola. For instance, approximately 560 slaves were shipped to Spain with many dying along the way. As well, the Taino people also suffered from the spread of European diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles and typhus. In reality, both the settlers and the Taino people struggled heavily at this time. The crops of the Spanish settlers appeared to have failed and they were struggling to survive on what little food they had. As well, some evidence suggests that many of them suffered from scurvy due to their poor diet. All of this eventually forced Columbus to abandon the settlement of Isabela in 1498.
Columbus did not remain at the Isabella settlement at the time. For instance, he left on April 24th, 1944 and did not return until September 29th, 1494. During this timeframe, he and some other settlers explored further west in the hopes of finding the mainland of China. This is because Columbus still believed that he had reached the shores of the Fareast of Asia. He arrived in modern day Cuba on April 30th, and explored the island of Jamaica days later. He remained there for almost two weeks before returning to Cuba and then Hispaniola. When he returned he found the settlers of La Isabela in a poor state. In the months that followed he organized clashes with the local indigenous peoples. He captured several of them including a local chief which he brought back to Spain with him. Columbus departed for Spain on March 10th, 1496 with only 225 settlers and 30 captures slaves. He arrived in Spain on June 11th, 1496. While gone, he left his brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, in charge of the settlements in the New World.
The second voyage of Columbus to the New World had a profound impact on the history of the world. For instance, it is considered to be the start of the Columbian Exchange which saw a mass exchange of plants, animals and diseases between the New and Old World. This fundamentally altered the history of the world as the spread of European diseases in the New World decimated the indigenous populations present there. As well, the enslavement and poor treatment of the indigenous peoples highlights the cruelty that they would be forced to suffer through in the centuries that followed. For example, some historians have reported that the Taino indigenous population on the island of Hispaniola was depopulated by as much as two-thirds by 1496, just 4 years after the arrival of Columbus to the island on his first voyage.