What Did John Cabot Discover?

John Cabot and his crew made landfall on the North American continent on June 24, 1497, making him one of the first Europeans ever to set foot on the continent He also discovered Newfoundland as well as some of the surrounding islands. However, like Christopher Columbus, Cabot thought that he had reached Asia, and since he encountered no residents at any time during his explorations there, he returned to England thinking that he had reached the farthest reaches of the Spice Islands.

Cabot was born Giovanni Caboto in Genoa (the same birthplace as Christopher Columbus), but the 1490s found him in England, where he received his commission from King Henry VII to undertake a journey across the Atlantic Ocean. He thought that it would be possible to get to Asia on a route farther north than the one that Columbus had used, and he also believed that the British did not have to wait for Spain to colonize all of the New World. Without Cabot’s advocacy, the British may never have established any colonies in the Americas.

Late in the year 1497, having already returned and reported on his discoveries, Cabot proposed a second trip across the Atlantic Ocean, making landfall at the same point again but then proceeding westward until he reached Japan. Unfortunately, neither he nor his ship made it. However, he had already established that there were shorter routes to North America, which the British would use to set up colonies.