b. 1728 Marton,
Yorkshire, England d. 1779 Kealakekua, Hawaii
At the age of 27 Cook enlisted in the British Royal Navy, and
French and Indian War
he distinguished himself in Canada by means of surveys he made and the
soundings he took in the St. Lawrence River. In 1768 he was sent to
to make astronomical
observations as the planet Venus passed between Earth and the sun.
Accompanied by a naturalist
that studies objects of natural history) and
that studies plants),
and two artists, he set out on the Endeavour, a small coal ship
that had been outfitted with a labratory and the most advanced telescopes.
After successfully completing his work, he was given orders to investigate
"the southern continent," so on he sailed, reaching the North and South
He then claimed eastern
the coast of
On his second voyage (1772-75), Cook was encouraged to prove,
or disprove, the existence of a frozen continent at the
He reached the
and advanced to
71 degrees S before deciding to quit the area. "There must be some
to the South
behind this ice," he sensibly observed, "but if there is, it can afford no
better retreat for birds, or any other animals, than the ice itself, with
which it must be wholly covered." He then went back to exploring and mapping
the islands of the South Pacific.
At a time when roughly 60% of the crews on long voyages took
sick and died, Cook applied scientific methods to every aspect of his
explorations. He determined that large amounts of fruits and vegetables or
sauerkraut juice in the sailor's diet reduced scurvy
(a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C making your
gums to get spongy, your teeth to fall out and bleeding into your skin.).
He also required his men to bathe each day and air their bedding twice a
The goal of Cook's third and final voyage was to find a
passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic, either through
it. But after clearing the
he found himself blocked by a solid wall of ice and was forced to return to
the islands that he named the Sandwich Islands
upon discovering them in 1778. A fight broke out with the islanders and
Cook was stabbed to death.
His life had the sweep and soar of the true
explorer's; indeed, no one else had spent more time, or covered as much
distance, on the open sea.
click to see
Cook's 3 routes
Below are sites and links for more information about James Cook.
This site was last updated
08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400