The role of the "flat earth" in history is often taught wrong in grade school. People before Columbus already figured out that the earth was round. What they disagreed about was how big it was. Some people thought it was so big that if you sailed west to get to the East, you would be so long on the sea that your supplies would run out and you'd never make it. The other people said it wasn't so large, and you could reach the East in fairly short order by sailing west. The first group, who opposed funding Columbus' journey, were, of course right. What no one realized was that there was a whole different continent between Europe and Asia. Columbus didn't figure it out either. He thought he got to the Indes, which is why Native Americans are called Indians. The guy who did figure it out was Amerigo Vespucci, for whom the Americas are (in my opinion rightly!) named.