History of Columbia

posted in: Patriotic | 0

Columbia is the personification of the United States.

Depiction of Columbia watching over the frontier

Her name is historically used to describe the Americas and New World.

The District of Columbia is named after her.  The patriotic hymn “Hail Columbia” is also in reference to her.  This is the official anthem for the Vice President.

Columbia is a New Latin word which has been around since the 1730s to describe the 13 Colonies.  The name originated from the explorer Christopher Columbus.

The first references date to 16th Century European art. She was one of four women used to depict the four continents. She was usually “only partly dressed, typically in bright feathers, which invariably formed her headdress. She often held a parrot, was seated on a caiman or alligator, with a cornucopia.”

Over time her image was changed and altered.

The name first appeared in print in 1738 in The Gentleman’s Magazine which was a publication of the British Parliament.

By the time of the American Revolution the name was seen as a poetic name for America.

A 1761 poem for King George III marriage and coronation states “Behold, Britannia! in thy favour’d Isle;At distance, thou, Columbia! view thy Prince,For ancestors renowned, for virtues more”.

Columbia, South Carolina was named after her in 1786. Columbia College in 1784 was named after her, as well as the District of Columbia.  

Since 1800 the name has become popular and used for a variety of places and items including the song Columbia, Gem of the Ocean; Columbia Pictures, Columbia Records, the space shuttle Columbia and CBS {which originally stood for Columbia Broadcasting System}.

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