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After Multifaceted International Investigation, Christopher Columbus’ letter returned back to Italy

By: Boya Hu

On July 19, 2023, the United States returned Christopher Columbus’s letter. After the long investigation. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had already announced that the letter would be returned to Rome on Wednesday. After decades of being missing, the 4th copy of the letter had finally arrived in Italy.

Columbus wrote the letter in 1493 to Spain’s King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. The letter was sent to many different places, including Rome where it was reprinted in Latin. The letter was sent to many different places because they wanted to contextualize and share it with others. Later, the copy, which was made into a pamphlet, spread to all of the libraries throughout Europe.

ICE arranged a charge for the document for more than 1.3 million dollars when people announced its discovery in 2020. “Culturally significant artifacts are assigned a monetary value in the world’s marketplaces in which they are traded.” said William Walker, who works at Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in an acting agent in charge. “But the cultural and symbolic worth of these objects far surpasses any given dollar value to the nations to whom they rightfully belong to.”

The letter’s significance was to remember Christopher Columbus’ importance to Italy’s history. Columbus set sail from Spain on August 1492 looking for all the possibilities on water way to journey to Asia. He did make it to the Caribbean though, on that wonderful piece of land he spent 5 months there, to study all the uncommon islands. He left 39 men there to build a settlement in the modern-day Haiti.

According to the NPR, Columbus kidnapped as many as 25 Native Americans to take back to his home country. He also took some gold, certain native plants, and native birds. Sadly, only 8 of the 25 Native Americans survived on the journey back to Spain. When Columbus was arriving in Spain, he wrote this famous letter to his patrons, King Ferdinand, and Queen Isabella in Spanish.

“I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people.” Columbus wrote. “I took the possession of all of them for out most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance.” He described all the beauty and natural profusion of the islands that he had seen to his patrons.

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