Happy (Observed) Columbus Day!

In celebration of the holiday, I am posting two cartoons from this week in 2003. We were taught in elementary school that America was discovered by Christopher Columbus, an Italian in the service of Spanish monarchs. Regarding the nationalities, that was more or less true, but Columbus would not have considered himself Italian. He would have considered himself Genoese, a native of that Mediterranean port city known for fine salami and, well, for being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. All of the Italian peninsula in Columbus’ time was fragmented into dozens of city-states. Consolidation and modernization began in 1861, with the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy. This process proceeded apace until practically the entire boot of Italy was one nation. However, the kingdom started to fall apart politically prior to World War II, and fascist dictator Benito Mussolini rose to power. He was a dictator, true, but he also made the trains run on time. Their constant rumbling undermined the Tower of Pisa, causing it to lean, and modern Italy was born.