Today in the Americas, John Cabot Claims Canada for England

Also of note, it was 23 years ago today that my lovely girlfriend Ashley was born. Happy birthday!

Statue of John Cabot in Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland, Canada.

Statue of John Cabot in Cape Bonavista in Newfoundland, Canada.

Today in 1497 (512 years ago) John Cabot becomes the first man, discounting the Vikings in the 1000s, to touch down on the North American continent, forever altering the course of history. On this day, he would land off the coast of Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island. He would stay until August 6 before heading back to England.

Cabot was just another sailor in the late 1490s, trying to sell his skills to the masters of his day (Spain and Portugal) before King Henry VIII sponsored him. Like many before him, he attempted to try to sell the Northwest Passage, which would today snake above the Canadian archipelago across the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Cabot would never attempt the Northwest Passage, although much of his first voyages are hearsay. Cabot vanished on his third voyage in 1498 – his remains have never been found as he is believed to be lost at sea.

His success set off a chain of interest in the New World that took some time to gather. Once the Spanish and Portuguese began to take home vast fortunes in the Caribbean, the English, French and Dutch all tried to duplicate. In 1524, France would send the Italian Giovanni da Verrazano, who would land in North Carolina. It wouldn’t be until 1607 when Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in the New World. We all know how that turned out.

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~ by Daniel on June 24, 2009.

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