John Cabot was an Italian explorer, who explored for England. He headed up two explorations. The first voyage turned out well. Cabot and his crew landed on Newfoundland. The second voyage, though, ended in disaster.
Cabot was born in 1450, in Venice. His father was a spice merchant. When he was a boy, he would go to the docks and talk to the Italian sailors. He learned a lot about navigation and sailing from them. Cabot got married when he was twenty-four years old and had three sons.
John Cabot moved to England in 1488, because of financial troubles. There were rumors going around that he was being chased by the people he owed money to, so he figured he should just leave the country. He decided that he wanted to go exploring. His timing was just right. England was seeing a lot of the countries around them going into other countries and establishing colonies. They wanted to get in on the game now. So, King Henry IV commissioned him to go to the new world, and claim some of it for England.
In 1497, Cabot left the port with 18 men, and one ship called The Matthew. Fifty days later, they landed on what is now Newfoundland. Like other explorers before him, Cabot thought that he was in Asia. He returned to England, and then he was sent on another exploration. This time, he left the port with 300 men and five ships. This second exploration ended quite strangely. The whole 300 man crew and all five ships mysteriously disappeared.
Nobody knows what happened to John Cabot and his second exploration, but he is credited with being the first European man to set foot on the mainland of North America since Leif Erickson and the Vikings.