Mormon studies, Joseph Smith, history, cultural context
In 1992 my wife, Claudia, published a book titled America Discovers Columbus: How an Italian Explorer Became an American Hero. The book argued that until the American Revolution, Columbus was almost completely neglected in histories of the British colonies. Not until three centuries after the fact did North Americans honor him as the discoverer of America. Even in 1792, it required a stretch of the imagination to give him the credit, since he never touched foot on the North American continent and for centuries the British had distanced themselves from the hated Spanish exploiters of the New World. But after attaining independence, the newly formed united States needed a new link to their European past besides their one-time oppressors, the British. And so Columbus was elected as grandfather of the new nation, sharing the honors with George Washington, the father, with whose name Columbus was imperishably linked through the title of the nation's capital, Washington, District of Columbia.
Bushman, Richard L.
"Joseph Smith's Many Histories,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 44:
4, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol44/iss4/3