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John Cabot
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    (circa 1450-circa 1499)
    Born in Genoa, Italy
    Became a citizen of Venice (1476)
    Commissioned by King Henry VII to sail for England (1496)
    Landed in Newfoundland (June 24, 1497)
    He is also referred to as Giovanni Caboto in Italy, Jean Cabot in France and Juan Caboto in Spain.
    In his only surviving signatures, he makes the 'none of the above' choice Zuan Chabotto.
    As a trader in the Mediterranean, he sold slaves.
    He ran into financial troubles and fled Venice for Spain to escape his creditors (1488).
    His first voyage was aborted due to bad weather and disagreements with the crew (1496).
    Like Columbus, he insisted that he had reached Asia ('the country of the Grand Khan') instead of a new continent.
    He left for a final expedition to the New World (July, 1498), after which he seems to drop out of the historical records, leading most historians to conclude that he was lost at sea.
    As a merchant in Italy he gained a reputation as 'a most expert mariner.'
    He was the first European to reach North America since the Vikings.
    He established the grounds for the British claim to part of the New World.
    Historian Alwyn Ruddock claimed to have found evidence that Cabot did return to England following an extended two-year exploration of the North American coast from Newfoundland south to the Caribbean. (However, Ruddock never published her proposed book about Cabot and ordered that her research papers be destroyed, so no one as of 2011 has proven the claim.)

Credit: C. Fishel

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