Historical Dictionary of the British Empire

By James S. Olson; Robert S. Shadle | Go to book overview

C

CABINET GOVERNMENT. Cabinet government is a form of government in which a group of ministers, who represent the majority political party or a coalition of the dominant parties, makes collective policy decisions. Cabinet government originated in Great Britain and was eventually exported, in the form of colonial responsible government,* to many parts of the empire. Its legitimacy rests on two principles. First, cabinet decisions are required to be collective, not those of a single individual, and ministers are bound to support publicly all of the cabinet decisions. Second, because cabinet ministers are members of, and answerable to, parliament, the cabinet serves as a political link between the executive and legislative branches of government.

REFERENCE: Vernon Bogdanor, The Black Encyclopaedia of Political Institutions, 1987.

CABOT, JOHN. John Cabot was probably born in Genoa around 1450. Little is known about his early life. People who knew him referred to him as Genoese, but there is no record of a Caboto family in that city's archives. Cabot also claimed to have participated in the Mediterranean spice trade and to have visited Mecca. Some sources place him in Valencia, Spain, between 1490 and 1493, where he could not have missed the festivities associated with Columbus' triumphal return from his first voyage. Cabot reached the conclusion that if sailing west as Columbus had done was good, then taking a more northerly route would be better. He approached the kings of both Spain and Portugal seeking support, but they refused. At that point, he presented his plan to Henry VII of England. Because England was located at the wrong end of the Asian trade network, it paid the highest prices for spices. At the same time, England's location in the

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