On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1492, one of Columbus’ ships, the Santa Maria, ran aground on the island of Haiti and had to be abandoned. Columbus left 40 men on the island and named the settlement “La Navidad,” meaning “The Nativity,” promising to return the following year. On this same day, Columbus wrote in his journal to the king and queen of Spain: “In all the world there can be no better or gentler people. Your Highnesses should feel great joy, because presently they will be Christians, and instructed in the good manners of your realms.”

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