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Andrew McGreevy

OUL Professor Presents at Massachusetts Maritime Conference

 Ohio University Lancaster Professor Researches 500-year-old Issue

Was Christopher Columbus the first to North America or was it the Chinese?


Lancaster –  Some western researchers believe that the Chinese reached North America before Christopher Columbus on ships five times larger than those of Columbus.  But Ohio University History Professor Andrew McGreevy is skeptical.


McGreevy presented on the topic at a conference called “Sea-Changes: A Maritime Conference in the Humanities” last April in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  McGreevy’s presentation was called “Sea Change, the Humanities, Transformation, 400 Foot Long Ships and New Teaching.”


“There are questions about the great age of exploration, which Columbus started of course,” said McGreevy. “There are huge historical questions about the history of ships and sailing.”


McGreevy said modern pictures showing a Chinese ship that was about 400 feet long have brought about the questions.  Columbus’ ship was about 80 feet long.


“There are highly debatable questions about whether China reached North America first,” said McGreevy. “Did the Chinese have ships five times larger than Columbus or the rest?


McGreevy believes no answer has been found yet and the information should stay out of the classroom.


“The size of these ships is a debatable issue and should not be taught as a fact. Many Chinese do not believe it or support it,” said McGreevy. “What it leads up to is what is China doing today about its navy?”


McGreevy has been researching this topic for about five years and has made contact with historians all over the world to discuss the issue.


“This controversy about the ships is not resolved,” said McGreevy.