I guess this is more political history than anything else, but its an interesting diversion.
While Columbus was circling the Caribean an English explorer named John Cabot may well have landed on America, planted a flag, claimed it for England, then noticed a smouldering fire, at which point he realised there were natives so he rushed back to his ship. He too was looking for Japan, but discovered this deserted coast.
One of the key investors in his voyage was Bristol customs officer Richard Amerike (pronounced 'Americ'). It calls into doubt America being named after Amerigo Vespucci for this one little quirk: where Amerike is buried in Bristol his coat of arms, to this day, displays white stars on a red background, with blue and white stripes just below.