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INTRODUCTION

TO A

HISTORY OF MARYLAND.

SECTION I.

The effects of Columbus's discoveries on the English nation-Commission to John Cabot and his three sons-John Cabot's deathSebastian Cabot's voyage-Disputes between the courts of Portugal and Spain, in consequence of Columbus's discoveries-Portuguese discoveries-The Pope's Partition-Cortereal's voyage-Patents for discovery and trade to some merchants of Bristol-Voyages and discoveries of the French-of the Spaniards-Ponce de Leon's discovery of Florida-Luke Vasquez's expedition-Verazzini's voyage -that of Stephen Gomez-English attempts for discovering a North-west passage-Pamphilo Narvez's Grant-Ferdinand de Soto's expedition-Castier's-First attempts of the French to colonise Canada-English attempt to settle Newfoundland-La Roque's attempt to settle Canada—Further proceedings of the EnglishFishery of Newfoundland-Pension granted to Sebastian Cabot.

I.

AS Maryland was originally an English colo- SECT. ny, to understand fully the early part of its history, it is indispensably necessary to be acquainted, in 1492. some measure, with those events which immediately led to its colonisation. This will necessarily require not only a concise detail of such European attempts to form settlements in other parts of North America, as preceded that of Maryland in time, but also a short elucidation of the nature of those reli

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1492. The ef. fects of Columbus's dis.

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SECT. gious controversies in England, which produced the

colonial settlements in New England and Maryland.

It is well known to every one tolerably acquainted with the History of Maryland, that the first discovery

of the West Indies, by Christopher Columbus, in coveries 1492, filled all Europe with astonishment and admiglish na- ration. This brilliant achievement of this renowned tion.

citizen of Genoa, under the patronage and auspices of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, cast such a lustre on their throne as to excite the envy of most of the monarchs of Europe. It does, however, no small credit to the character of Henry VII of England, their cotemporary, that he listened with a favourable ear to the application of Bartholomew Columbus, in behalf of his brother Christopher, prior to his grand undertaking. But Ferdinand and Isabella had anticipated him. To make some amends to his subjects, among whom this discovery had excited an uncommon spirit of adventure, Henry invited other seamen of known reputation, to enter into his service for similar purposes. It is remarkable, that at this period of time the English nation was much inferior to most other European nations in the science of navigation, though, from the advantages which its insular situation always gave, the contrary might have been expected. Its military glory retained its rank of equality with any; but the inconsiderate ambition of its monarchs had long wasted it on pernicious and ineffectual efforts to conquer France. In succession to which, the civil wars produced by the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, had, as it were, preyed upon its bowels and exhausted its vigour. The city of Bristol, however, appears

SECT.

1.

ners.

a

to have been inhabited at that time by some merchants of considerable enterprise and public spirit. Here also, it seems, a certain Giovanni Gaboto, 1492. commonly called by the English, John Cabot, a native and citizen of Venice, had long resided. De.' sirous of emulating the exploits of Columbus, he offered himself to Henry as a person amply qualified to make further discoveries under the English ban

It is to be remembered, that the great object of Columbus, in his first voyage, was not to disco. ver such a continent as that of America, but to ex. plore a more convenient route to the East Indies, which were then supposed to form the grand foun. tain of all the wealth in the world. As the islands which Columbus discovered, were deemed by him a part of those Indies, and the reports of the vast quantities of gold and silver found among the natives of those islands, hąd, without doubt, reached England, Henry, whose prevailing passion was avarice, was easily induced to listen to Cabot's proposals. He accordingly, by letters patent, bearing date the 5th of March, in the eleventh year of his reign, (in the year of Christ 1496, according to New 1496. Style*,) “ granted to John Cabot and his three som mis

sons, Louis, Sebastian, and Sancias, and their John Ca. heirs, full power to navigate to any country or his three bay of the sea, east, west, or north, under his ban- .

ners, with five ships, of such burthen, and man“ ned with as many men as they might choose, at " their own cost and charges, to discover such “islands, countries, regions, or provinces of any

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* See note (A) at the end of the volume.

SECT.

I.

1496.

16 and

"nation of infidels whatsoever, or wheresoever si“ tuated, which were then before unknown to any “ Christian people ; and as his vassals, governours, “ lieutenants, and deputies, to subjugate, occupy,

possess such countries or islands, as shall be “ discovered by them : so that nevertheless they “ should return to Bristol after every voyage, and “ that they should pay him a fifth part of the nett " profits of such voyage ; granting to them and their “ heirs, to be free from all customs on any goods “or merchandize brought with them from such “ countries so discovered; and that no English “ subject whatever should frequent or visit such “ countries so discovered by them, without the “ license of the said John, his sons, or their heirs,

or deputies, under the penalty of a forfeiture of “their ships and goods; willing and strictly com“ manding all his subjects, as well by land as by

sea, to be aiding and assisting to the said John and “his sons and deputies, in arming and fitting out “his ships, to be done at their own expense."*

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* See this patent at large in Hazard's Collections, Vol. I, p. 9. It may be proper to take notice here of what is alleged in Harris's collection of voyages, (edit. 1748, Vol. 2, p. 190,) that “the year before this patent was granted, John Cabot, with his son Sebastian, had sailed from Bristol upon discovery, and had actually seen the continent of Newfoundland, to which they gave the name of Prima Vista, or First

the report made them of this voyage, the before-mentioned patent was granted.” But as I do not find this circumstance recognised by any historian, except in the obscure assertion made by the authors of the Mod. Univ. Hist. Vol. 44, p. 2," that Sebastian Cabot was sent by Henry VII, a year before the discovery of Columbus, and, having first dis

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I.

There are some circumstances necessary to be SECT. noticed here, which will plainly account for the delay which took place with the Cabots in availing 1496. themselves of the benefits of this patent. The restrictive clause in the letters, that the equipment of their expedition was “to be done at their own expense,” so consonant to the parsimonious or frugal policy of the monarch who granted them, will readily suggest that much difficulty might probably occur in the way of these enterprising navigators, before they would be able to procure the means of preparing such equipment out of their own finances. This consideration necessarily leads to point out the real cause of a subsequent grant or license by the same king, on the 3d of February, 13 Hen. VII. (nearly two years after their first patent,) whereby he authorized John Cabot " to seize upon six Eng

“ lish ships, * in any port or ports of the realm of England, of 200 tons burthen, or under, with their requisite apparatus,” &c. Before the license here. by granted, could be carried into effect, John Cabot diedt. But Sebastian, his son, making application bot's to the king, and proposing to discover a north- death.

1498.

John Ca.

covered Newfoundland, sailed along the coast as far as Florida ;" which certainly is without foundation as to time at Jeast, if not extent, I have not thought it proper to be inserted in the text. It is possible, however, that those authors might have meant that Cabot was sent a year before Columbus discovered the continent in his third voyage. If so, it is some corroboration of what is said in Harris.

• The words are, quod ipse capere possit,” &c. See it at large in Hazard's Collections, Vol. 1, p. 10.

+ Harris's Voyage, Vol. 2, p. 190.

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