At the time that Columbus set out on his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492, John Cabot, an Italian merchant, was living in the city of Bristol, England. When the news reached that city that Columbus had discovered the West Indies, Cabot begged Henry the Seventh, king of England, to let him see if he could not find a shorter way to the Indies than that of Columbus. The king gave his consent, and in the spring of 1497 John Cabot, with his son Sebastian, who seems to have been born in Bristol, sailed from that port. They headed their vessels toward the northwest; by going in that direction they hoped to get to those parts of Asia and the Spice Islands which were known to Europe, and which Columbus had failed to reach.
Early one bright morning toward the last of June, 1497, they saw land in the west. It was probably Cape Breton Island, a part of Nova Scotia. John Cabot named it "The Land First Seen." Up to this time Columbus had discovered nothing but the West India Islands, but John Cabot now saw the continent of North America; no civilized man had ever seen it before. There it lay, a great, lonely land, shaggy with forests, with not a house or a human being in sight.
John Cabot takes possession of the country for the king of England.—Cabot went on shore with his son and some of his crew. In the vast, silent wilderness they set up a large cross. Near to it they planted two flag-poles, and hoisted the English flag on one and the flag of Venice, the city where John Cabot had lived in Italy, on the other. Then they took possession of the land for Henry the Seventh. It was in this way that the English came to consider that the eastern coast of North America was their property, although they did not begin to make settlements here until nearly a hundred years later.
After sailing about the Gulf of St. Lawrence without finding the passage through to Asia for which they were looking, the voyagers returned to England.
The king was so pleased with what John Cabot had discovered that he made him a handsome present; and when the captain, richly dressed in silk, appeared in the street, the people of Bristol would "run after him like mad" and hurrah for the "Great Admiral," as they called him.
The Cabots carried back to England some Indian traps for catching game and perhaps some wild turkeys—an American bird the English had then never seen, but whose acquaintance they were not sorry to make. They also carried over the rib of a whale which they had found on the beach in Nova Scotia.
Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper: