"In 1492 Columbus sailed Ocean Blue". This little rhyme many American children learn to remember the date when Christopher Columbus "discovered" America. 'But was Christopher Columbus really the first person to discover the continent and return home to tell about it? Probably not, but he was the first to return to Europe and tell all about what he believed to be a new route to Asia. Most people in Columbus' days thought that the earth was flat, and they did not believe that a route to the India across the Atlantic would be shorter and safer than a route around Africa. He did not have the money to buy ships and hire sailors. At first Columbus asked the king of Portugal to pay for his voyage. The king asked his advisers, and after their report he denied to help Columbus. Then Columbus travelled to Spain to ask Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand for help. Six years later Isabella gave Columbus three caravels: the Santa Maria, the Nina, and the Pinta. Columbus's crew last saw land on the eastern horizon on the 9th of September, 1492. On the 12th of October, 1492, when everybody was very tired and anxious, the lookout on the Pinta saw something like a white cliff shining in the moonlight. Columbus named the land he had reached San Salvador. He thought they landed in Asia. On the 15th of March, 1493, Columbus was back to Spain with two of his ships. He brought parrots, an alligator, a few pieces of gold jewelry, some unusual plants, and six American Indians.