Origin of the English and French Claims to North America--First attempt at settlement by French Protestants--Destroyed by the Spaniards--Sir Humphry Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh attempt a settlement--Grant to South and North Virginia Companies--French grant to De Monts--First settlement of Virginia, Plymouth, and the other English Colonies--Extent of their grants--North Virginia first called New England in 1614--Grant of New England to the Plymouth Company--New York settled by the Dutch--French discoveries under de la Salle.
THE claim of Great Britain to North America, was founded on the discoveries made by John Cabot and his sons, under a commission from King Henry VII. Cabot was a native of Venice, and with his sons, had settled in England, then a place of resort for foreign merchants.
The extensive commercial intercourse between the ports of Italy and the East Indies, by the way of the Red Sea and the Persian gulf, had, at an early period, been the means of extending geographical knowledge, as well as nautical skill, among the Italians, much beyond that possessed by their more western neighbors. It led them also, to form more correct ideas of the true figure of the earth, than was then entertained by the rest of Europe. This will account for the singular fact, that the first discoverer of the new world, as well as those, who immediately after, explored different parts of it, were natives of Italy. Columbus, Americus Vesputius, Cabot and Verazzano, were all natives of the commercial cities of that country. Cabot was of opinion that a new way to India might be found, by sailing northwest. To effect this, as well as to make further discoveries in the new world, he and his three sons, Sebastian, Lewis, and Sanctius, ob-