James Cook

Dafato Team | May 16, 2022

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James Cook (Marton, October 27, 1728 - Kealakekua, February 14, 1779) was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer.

Cook was the first to chart the island of Newfoundland before embarking on three voyages to the Pacific Ocean during which he made the first European contact with the coasts of Australia and Hawaii, as well as the first official circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Little more than a teenager, Cook entered the British merchant marine and in 1755 enlisted in the Royal Navy. He took part in the Seven Years' War, which involved the major European powers of the time, and later surveyed and charted much of the mouth of the St. Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec. The skill he demonstrated in this task helped bring Cook to the attention of the Admiralty and the Royal Society. It was a pivotal moment both in Cook's career and in British overseas leadership and exploration, culminating in his appointment in 1766 as commander of the ship HMS Endeavour, aboard which he executed the first of his three voyages to the Pacific Ocean.

On these voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles, to then largely unexplored areas of the globe. Combining seamanship, courage and the ability to lead men effectively in adverse conditions, as well as great cartographic talent, he reached unknown and dangerous areas, which he mapped, recording for the first time on European charts the location of several unexplored islands and coastlines, examining and describing their features. His charts map the coastlines of numerous territories, from New Zealand to Hawaii, with a precision of detail and scale of representation never before achieved.

In 1779 Cook was killed in Hawaii in a violent confrontation with natives during his third exploratory voyage to the Pacific. He left a legacy of scientific and geographical knowledge that would influence his posterity at least until the 20th century. Today Cook is dedicated numerous monuments and various memorials around the world.


Cook was born in the village of Marton, Yorkshire County, now a suburb of the city of Middlesbrough. He was baptized in the local church of St. Cuthbert, where his name can still be read today in the parish register. Cook was the second of eight children of James Cook, a Scottish farm laborer, and a native woman, Grace Pace from Thornaby-on-Tees. In 1736, his family moved to Airey Holme's farm in Great Ayton, where his father's employer, Thomas Skottowe, paid the fees for his school, now turned into a museum. In 1741, after five years of elementary school, he began working for his father, who had meanwhile become superintendent of the farm. As a hobby he used to climb a nearby hill, Roseberry Topping, enjoying the opportunity to have moments of solitude. Cook's Cottage, the last home of his parents, which he probably got to frequent, is now in Melbourne, where it was transported from England and reassembled brick by brick in 1934.

In 1745, at the age of sixteen, Cook moved 32 km north to the fishing village of Staithes to begin his apprenticeship as store boy to grocer and haberdasher William Sanderson. Historians have much speculated whether it was here that Cook first felt an attraction to the sea, contemplating it through the store windows.

After eighteen months, not feeling suited to the work of shopkeeping, Cook moved once more, going to the nearby port town of Whitby and there was introduced to Sanderson's friends John and Henry Walker. The Walkers were prominent local Quaker shipowners with interests in the coal trade. Their home is today the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. Cook was hired as a merchant marine apprentice in their small fleet of coal ships engaged along the English coast. His first assignment was aboard the coal ship Freelove; on it and other ships he spent several years sailing between Tyne and London.

As part of his apprenticeship, Cook applied himself in the study of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, navigation and astronomy, all subjects that would come in handy one day when commanding his own ship.

Having completed his three-year apprenticeship, Cook began working on merchant ships in the Baltic Sea. Beginning in 1752, with his promotion to second-in-command aboard the coal ship Friendship, he quickly climbed the merchant marine ladder. In 1755, less than a month after being offered command of the Friendship, at a time when Britain was rearming for the Seven Years' War, he decided to join the Royal Navy as a volunteer. Although he was aware that he would have to start on the lowest rung of the naval ladder, Cook understood that his career would advance much more rapidly in military service and enlisted at Wapping on June 7.


On Dec. 21, 1762, Cook married Elizabeth Batts (1742-1835), daughter of Samuel Batts, one of his mentors and manager of The Bell Inn in Wapping, at St. Margaret's Church in Barking, then Essex County. The couple had six children-James (1763-1794), Nathaniel (1764-1781), Elizabeth (1767-1771), Joseph (1768-1768), George (1772-1772), and Hugh (1776-1793). When not at sea, Cook lived in the East End neighborhood of London. He attended services at St. Paul's Church in Shadwell, where his son James was baptized. To commemorate his life in London's East End, the Stepney Historical Trust recently posted a plaque at 326 "The Highway," the main street in Shadwell, corresponding to 88 Mile End Road where Cook's home stood. Cook has no known direct descendants: all of his children died early or without descendants.

Cook's first embarkation was on the ship HMS Eagle, with the rank of master mate. In October and November 1755 he took part in the capture of a French warship and the sinking of another; actions for which he was promoted to the rank of master (or sailing master) in addition to maintaining his other duties. He had his first command in March 1756, when he briefly became commander of the Cruizer, a small cutter following the Eagle when she was on patrol.

In June 1757 Cook passed his second-lieutenant exams at Trinity House in Deptford, earning the right to sail and command a ship in the Royal Fleet. He then embarked on the frigate HMS Solebay as a second lieutenant, under the orders of Commander Robert Craig. During this period, he served in a variety of minor actions in the seas near the British Isles.

The Conquest of Canada (1758-63)

During the Seven Years' War, he was serving in North America on HMS Pembroke, a 60-gun vessel of the Royal Navy, again as master. In 1758 he took part in the amphibious assault that enabled the French to take the fortress of Louisbourg from the French. Cook then took part in the siege of Quebec City in 1759, immediately demonstrating his great talent for topography and cartography by plotting maps of the mouth of the St. Lawrence River; work that facilitated General Wolfe's later task of carrying out the famous surprise attack on the Plains of Abraham on September 12-13, 1759. The attack, which ended in a clear victory for British troops and the deaths of both commanders-in-chief, would later prove decisive in the conflict that pitted France and Britain against each other over the fate of New France, later determining the creation of Canada.

Cook's skill in topography was then exploited during the 1760s to chart the rugged coastline of the island of Newfoundland aboard HMS Grenville. Cook charted the northwest coastline between 1763 and 1764, the south coast between the Burin Peninsula and Cape Ray between 1765 and 1766, and the west coast in 1767.

During this period Cook employed local pilots to point out "hidden rocks and dangers" along the south and west coasts. During the 1765 season, four pilots were engaged at a daily pay of 4 shillings each: John Beck for the west coast of "Great St. Lawrence," Morgan Snook for Fortune Bay, John Dawson for Connaigre and Hermitage Bay, and John Peck for "Bay of Despair."

While in Newfoundland, Cook also conducted astronomical observations, particularly of the eclipse of the Sun on August 5, 1766. By obtaining an accurate estimate of the time of the beginning and that of the eclipse's conclusion and comparing them with the times at a known location in England, it was possible to calculate the longitude of the observation site in Newfoundland. This result was reported to the Royal Society in 1767.

Cook's five years in Newfoundland allowed for the first accurate large-scale map of the island, augmented with hydrographic surveys of the coastline; they were the first scientific charts to use precise triangulation to establish shoreline contours. During that span of time Cook further developed his skill in topographical practice, gained by working under very often difficult conditions, soon attracting the attention of the Admiralty and the Royal Society to him, at a crucial time not only for his personal career but also in view of future British overseas exploration. Cook's map would still be used as a reference by all who would sail the waters of Newfoundland for the next 200 years.

It was as a result of the work done in Newfoundland that Cook had written how it was his intention to go not only "...beyond where anyone has gone before, but as far as it is possible for a man to go."

The First Journey (1768-1771)

On May 25, 1768, the Admiralty commissioned Cook to make a voyage to the Pacific Ocean to observe the 1769 transit of Venus in front of the Sun (June 3-4 that year). At age 39, he was then promoted to lieutenant to grant him sufficient status to be appointed commander of the expedition. For its part, the Royal Society agreed that Cook would receive one hundredth of a guinea as gratuity in addition to his naval pay.

He set sail on August 26, 1768 on the ship HMS Endeavour (a pole brig, whose name would be the inspiration for the Space Shuttle Endeavour), rounded Cape Horn and arrived in Tahiti on April 13, 1769. There he built a small fort-observatory-Fort Venus-to observe the transit, but due to the poor accuracy of the scientific instrumentation of the time, the results of the measurements were not as conclusive as hoped.

Once the observations were completed, Cook opened the secret sealed orders from the Admiralty, commanding him to explore the South Pacific and search for the mythical continent Terra Australis, about the existence of which Cook himself had doubts, but which the Royal Society (and in particular Alexander Dalrymple) claimed existed.

With the help of an indigenous Tahitian called Tupaia, who had extensive knowledge of the marine geography of the South Pacific, the expedition reached New Zealand. Cook was thus the second European (after Abel Tasman in 1642) to land in New Zealand. He circumnavigated it completely, thus discovering Cook Strait, which separates the North Island from the South Island and which Tasman had not sighted, although he had guessed there was a passage. He accurately charted the New Zealand coastline making only minor errors, calling what was actually a peninsula "Banks Island" and failing to determine whether Stewart Island or Rakiura was an island separated from the mainland.

He then sailed westward, reaching the southeastern coast of Australia on April 19, 1770. His expedition became the first European to explore the coastline of the new continent. On April 23 he made his first recorded observation of Aboriginal Australians at Brush Island near Bawley Point-now in New South Wales-noting in his journal:

On April 29, Cook and his crew docked on land on the Kurnell Peninsula. Cook first christened the area as Stingray Bay for the many stingrays (in English called sting rays) they found there and fished in abundance, but later changed the name to Botany Bay after botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Carlsson Solander recovered unique plant specimens. Also in Botany Bay he had his first direct contact with the Aboriginal tribe known as the Gewagal.When later Captain Arthur Phillip arrived with the "First Fleet" in 1788, he considered the bay unsuitable for establishing a colony and docked further north, where the city of Sydney is currently located.

Leaving the Botany Bay landing, they sailed north. An accident occurred on June 11 when the Endeavour ran aground on a shoal belonging to the Great Barrier Reef and "they were forced to repair at the mouth of a river on June 18, 1770." The Endeavour-seriously damaged-was pulled aground for repairs at the mouth of the Endeavour river near present-day Cooktown; as a result, the voyage was delayed for two months. Having repaired the ship, they resumed the sea and crossed the Torres Strait between Australia and New Guinea: he was the second European ever to pass through it after Luis Váez de Torres' passage in 1604. On August 22 Cook landed at Possession Island where he solemnly claimed to the British Crown the entire coastline he had explored. He then returned toward England, calling at Batavia, present-day Jakarta, Indonesia, where many men succumbed to malaria, reached the Cape of Good Hope and arrived at St. Helena on July 12, 1771.

Another remarkable aspect of this voyage was that up to this point no man in the crew had fallen victim to scurvy, which was exceptional for those times. Cook forced the men to eat citrus fruits and sauerkraut by relying, among the first, on James Lind's discoveries about the disease. It was the stopover in Jakarta, known for its malaria epidemics, however, that was fatal for many of the crew, including Tahitian Tupaia, Banks' Finnish secretary and fellow scientist Herman Spöring, astronomer Charles Green and illustrator Sydney Parkinson. Lieutenant Hicks, Cook's second, also passed away on May 26, 1771.

On July 10, 1771 Nicholas Young, the boy who first saw New Zealand, was again the first to sight England (specifically the Lizard Peninsula).

Cook's journals, which recounted how the crew of the Endeavour circumnavigated the globe, catalogued thousands of species of plants, insects and animals, encountered new ethnic groups and scoured huge continents, were published in 1773 and he soon became something of a hero in the scientific community.

The Second Journey (1772-1775)

Shortly after returning from his first voyage, Cook was promoted in August 1771 to the rank of Commander of the Royal Navy and again commissioned by the Royal Society for a further voyage, this time in search of the legendary Terra Australis. On his first voyage Cook had demonstrated by his circumnavigation of New Zealand that it was not connected to any larger land mass to the south. Despite the fact that he had mapped almost the entire east coast of Australia, demonstrating its continental dimensions, people nevertheless continued to believe that Terra Australis must lie even further south. In spite of all evidence to the contrary, Alexander Dalrymple and other members of the Society refused to believe that a southern continent did not exist.

Cook assumed command of HMS Resolution while Tobias Furneaux was put in command of HMS Adventure. The captain was also asked to test the Larcum Kendall K1 marine chronometer on this voyage. The Longitude Commission had asked Kendall to copy and develop John Harrison's fourth watch model (the H4) useful for navigation at sea.

On August 1, Cook made his first call for supplies at the port of Funchal in the Madeira Islands. After a further supply stop at the Cape Verde Islands two weeks later, she sailed south to the Cape of Good Hope. The Resolution dropped anchor in Table Bay on October 30 with all the crew in good health, thanks to Cook's imposition of a strict dietary regimen and maximum hygiene. It was here that Swede Anders Sparrman joined the expedition as a botanist.

The ships left the Cape on November 22, 1772, and headed for the South Atlantic area where the French navigator Bouvet had claimed to have sighted land, which he called Cape Circumcision. In early December the two captains sailed through thick fog and sighted "islands of ice." Cook, however, did not find the island, which Bouvet claimed was at a latitude of 54°. So the expedition went even further south and circumnavigated the globe at a very southern latitude. Cook thus became the first European to cross the Antarctic Circle on January 17, 1773, reaching 71°10' South. In the mists of the Antarctic, the two ships at one point found themselves separated. Furneaux first headed for the predetermined rendezvous point of Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand, plotted by Cook in 1770. Here he lost about ten of his men in a violent clash with the Māori. The Adventure arrived in Queen Charlotte Sound on May 7, 1773, while the Resolution reached the rendezvous on the 17th. From June to October the two ships explored the South Pacific. Cook had almost reached the shores of the Antarctic continent when he was forced to return to Tahiti to refuel the ship, reaching it on August 15. Here Omai of Ra'iātea Island boarded the Adventure (Omai later became the second Pacific islander, after Ahutoru, to visit Europe before returning to Tahiti with Cook in 1776).

After landing at Tonga in the Friendship Islands, the ships returned to New Zealand to winter, but were again separated, this time by a storm, on October 22. On this occasion the rendezvous in Queen Charlotte Sound was missed. Furneaux then set sail for the mother country. Cook, on the other hand, continued to explore the Antarctic region, again reaching 71°10' S on January 31, 1774.

Continuing sailing, he discovered New Caledonia (Sept. 4) and the Australian Sandwich Islands.Cook finally sailed for the mother country in November 1774. On his way back, crossing the South Pacific, he docked again in Tonga and then on Easter Island arriving, five weeks later, in Tierra del Fuego where he stayed for two weeks. He then headed into the South Atlantic. Unexpectedly he sighted a land covered with snow and ice on which he landed on January 17, 1775 in a sheltered bay he called Possession Bay. He traced part of its coastline, but was not particularly fascinated by the discovery and instead described its desolation:

Arriving at the southern end of that land, he realized that it was not the much sought-after Antarctic continent, so he named the southern cape Cape Disappointment and gave the island the name South Georgia.

On March 21 the Resolution anchored in Table Bay where she spent five weeks taking advantage of the opportunity to restore rigging. She arrived home at Spithead, Portsmouth, on July 30, 1775, having visited St. Helena and the Fernando de Noronha archipelago along the way. The extraordinary voyage was over and all inferences about the existence of the legendary Southern Continent finally buried.

Another positive outcome of the second voyage was the successful testing of the marine chronometer devised by John Harrison, which facilitated the accurate measurement of longitudes.

Cook's fame now extended beyond the Admiralty. He was made a fellow of the Royal Society, awarded the Copley Medal, portrayed by Nathaniel Dance-Holland, dined with James Boswell, and was described in the House of Lords as "the first navigator in Europe."

Shortly thereafter Cook was granted an honorable discharge from the Navy, but this would not keep him away from the sea and sailing for long. A third voyage in search of the Northwest Passage was already planned. Cook was to sail across the Pacific and ever eastward back to the Atlantic while another ship would take the opposite route.

The Third Journey (1776-1779)

On his last voyage Cook was again in command of Resolution, while Captain Charles Clerke was in command of HMS Discovery. The purpose of the voyage was an attempt to discover the famous Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific via the northern part of North America. Initially, the Admiralty would have wanted Clerke to lead the expedition. Cook, who was officially retired, was supposed to follow their mission to the Pacific as a consultant. However, compared to his competitor, Cook was an experienced connoisseur of Bering expeditions in the same seas they were to sail. Taking note, the Admiralty finally granted its confidence again to the veteran explorer by appointing him as commander, while Clerke was relegated to the role of comprimario. The intent was to make a "two-pronged attack," with Cook and Clerke attempting to pass through the Bering Strait into the North Pacific and Richard Pickersgill on the frigate Lyon attempting the route from the Atlantic. Admiralty orders for Cook were inspired by an Act (regulatory act) of the British Parliament that, reconfirmed in 1775, promised a £20,000 reward to anyone who discovered the passage.

Cook stopped in Tahiti and then sailed north and in 1778 became the first European to visit the Hawaiian Islands, which he named "Sandwich Islands" in honor of its owner John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich; the First Lord of the Admiralty. He was also the first to tell of surfing. From Hawaii he went on and explored the Canadian west coast, docking at Nootka Bay (Nootka Sound to the British) on Vancouver Island, passing through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. He explored and charted the coast of North America from California to the Bering Strait. After leaving Nootka Bay, Cook explored and mapped the coast to the Bering Strait, identifying what would later be known as Cook's Inlet in Alaska. It would later be said that, in a single expedition, Cook had traced for the first time on world maps most of the northwest coastline of North America, determined the extent of Alaska, and filled in the serious gaps present in the early Russian (from the west) and Spanish (from the south) explorations of the northern Pacific boundaries.

The Bering Strait, despite several attempts, proved impenetrable. This voyage was very frustrating for Cook, who began to suffer from stomach problems; according to some theories these ailments were at the root of his increasingly irrational behavior toward the crew.

Cook returned to Hawaii in 1779, where he met the local king Kalani`ōpu`u and, according to some recently disputed interpretations, was initially mistaken for Lono, the Hawaiian god of fertility. However, on Feb. 14 near Kealakekua Bay some natives stole one of his ship's lifeboats-this kind of theft was quite normal and usually some natives were taken hostage to get their ill-gotten gains back-and Cook, in a fit of irrationality, had a violent altercation with a large group of islanders; in the dispute several gunshots were fired and Cook was stabbed to death.

Clerke took command of the expedition and made another attempt at passage through the Bering Strait before succumbing to tuberculosis from which he was already suffering. He was replaced in command of the Resolution by Lieutenant Commander John Gore while the Discovery came under that of James King.

The Resolution and Discovery finally arrived at Sheerness in Kent on October 4, 1780. News of Cook's and Clerke's deaths had long since reached London, so their return home got only a muted welcome, but Captain Cook's machine of mythopoiesis had been inexorably set in motion.

Many artifacts from this expedition are preserved at the Museum of Natural History, Anthropology and Ethnology Section of the University of Florence.

The debate over the cause and manner of Cook's killing has never died down. It was probably a ritual murder consummated collectively, as the natives pounced on the corpse. On February 14, 1779, Cook marched to the village to take the Hawaiian King Kalaniʻōpuʻu hostage, took him by the hand and invited him to follow him on the pretext of showing him his ship, which the king carried out apparently of his own volition. But one of his favorite wives and two captains noticed his departure; so they caught up with the group as it was on its way to the boats. Here they pleaded with the king not to leave, until he stopped and sat down. An elderly priest began chanting while holding a coconut, attempting to distract Cook and his men, thus giving time for a large crowd of natives to join them on the beach. The Hawaiian king began to realize he was the victim of deception, refusing to move, and when in the ensuing crush Cook turned to help put the boats overboard, he was struck with a stick to the head and then stabbed to death, falling face-first onto the shoreline.

As reported in eyewitness accounts, collected by Captain James King and sailors present, "his body was immediately dragged ashore and surrounded by the enemies who, tearing the dagger from each other's hands, showed a savage desire to each reserve a share in his destruction." The Hawaiians then seized the body and dragged it far away. Four of Cook's sailors were also killed in the encounter while two were wounded. In the natives did not make a gratuitous havoc of Cook's remains; rather, his body was jealously preserved by the elders. Following the tradition of the tribal communities of the time, which was not shared and disliked by the British, Cook's body underwent funeral rituals similar to those reserved for the most important chiefs and elders in Hawaiian society. The body was then eviscerated, boiled to facilitate the removal of flesh, and the bones were carefully cleaned for preservation as if they were religious icons, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the treatment reserved for the relics of European saints in the Middle Ages. Some of Cook's remains, as some evidence reveals to that effect, were later returned to the British after a heartfelt appeal by the crew: on Feb. 22 Cook's few recovered remains were formally buried at sea in the depths of the bay to the tolling of bells and under the salvoes of cannons.

Despite images, eyewitness accounts, and data from the period predominantly support the responsibility of indigenous Hawaiians for getting their hands on the guns first, in 2004 the original 1784 painting by John Cleveley, from which many other contemporary paintings that had always given the image of a peacemaking Cook, seemed to be derived, was discovered in a private collection belonging to a family since 1851. Cleveley's brother had been a member of Cook's crew, and the painting would seem to agree with the eyewitness accounts. The original depicts the captain in a fury and involved in hand-to-hand combat as he is intent on baiting his men against the native Hawaiians, suggesting that they, in order to defend themselves against the British sailors, were forced to kill him. The discovery of the original painting did not, however, change the way most historians judge Cook's placid relationship with the Hawaiians, and although on his last voyage it was reported by some of his contemporaries that he had become irrational and violent, David Samwell, who had sailed with Cook on the Resolution, wrote of him:

The reasons for Cook's death have been the focus of a wide-ranging and bitter debate between the two anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeyesekere, which took place in the late 1990s and also involved other historians, sociologists and anthropologists. The main subject of the debate, which remains unresolved to this day, hinges on the question of the rationality of indigenous people: whether different from that of Europeans (but equally valid) or similar (i.e., equally "rational").The dispute between the two will lead to a series of publications and counter-publications, and it still elicits highly controversial responses from other historians, sociologists or anthropologists, with stances for one or the other (such as Borofsky for Sahlins).


The standard abbreviation "Cook" is used in the binomial nomenclature of several botanical species referable to him. Among them:

Ethnographic collections

The Australian Museum acquired its "Cook Collection" in 1894 from the New South Wales government. At that time the collection consisted of 115 artifacts collected on Cook's three voyages across the Pacific Ocean during the period 1768-1780, with documents and memorabilia relating to these expeditions.Many of the ethnographic artifacts were collected at the time of the first contacts between Pacific peoples and Europeans. In 1935 most of the documents and memorabilia were transferred to the Mitchell Library in the New South Wales State Library. The provenance of the collection shows that the items remained in the hands of Cook's widow Elizabeth Cook, and her descendants, until 1886. In that year John Mackrell, great-grandson of Isaac Smith, Elizabeth Cook's cousin, organized an exhibition of this collection, at the request of the NSW government, at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in London. In 1887, the NSW government's representative in London, Saul Samuel, purchased the items from John Mackrell and also other memorabilia purchased from third parties and belonging to other relatives such as Reverend Canon Frederick Bennett, Mrs. Thomas Langton, and H.M.C. Alexander and William Adams. The collection remained in the custody of the Colonial Secretary of NSW until 1894, when it was transferred to the Australian Museum.

Science and navigation

Cook's twelve years of sailing around the Pacific Ocean contributed greatly to European knowledge of the area. Several islands such as the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) were visited by Europeans for the first time, and his naval mapping of vast areas of the Pacific was an important and lasting achievement.

To create accurate maps, latitude and longitude must be determined very precisely. Navigators were able to accurately work out latitude for centuries by measuring the angle of the Sun or a star above the horizon with instruments such as the Davis quadrant (or backstaff) or quadrants in general. Longitude was more difficult to measure accurately because it required precise knowledge of the time difference between points on the Earth's surface. The Earth rotates 360° relative to the Sun every day. So longitude varies with time: fifteen degrees every hour, or one degree every four minutes.Cook made accurate measurements of longitude during his first voyage because of his great navigational skills, the help of astronomer Charles Green, and using the newly published Nautical Almanac tables. These provided the data for determining longitude at sea by the lunar distance, obtained by the method of measuring the angular distance from the Moon or Sun during the day or from one among eight particularly bright stars during the night, to determine the time at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, and comparing this figure with the local one in turn determined by the height of the Sun, Moon, or stars. On his second voyage Cook used Larcum Kendall's K1 chronometer, which was in the shape of a large pocket watch 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter. This was a copy of the H4 watch made by John Harrison, which had turned out to be the first to be able to keep accurate time at sea when it was used aboard the ship Deptford en route to Jamaica between 1761 and 1762.

Cook managed to circumnavigate the globe on his first voyage without losing a single man to scurvy, an outstanding achievement for the time. He tested several preventive measures, but the most important proved to be the frequent provision of fresh food. On this important aspect of the voyage, he submitted a special report to the Royal Society, which awarded him the Copley Medal in 1776.

An innate observer, Cook was the first European to have extensive contact with a variety of Pacific peoples. He correctly postulated a connection between all Pacific peoples, despite the fact that they were separated by large oceanic expanses (see Maleo-Polynesian languages). Cook theorized that Polynesians originated in Asia, as scientist Bryan Sykes would later actually verify. In New Zealand, Cook's coming is often used to denote the beginning of colonization.

Cook took several scientists with him on his voyages; they made many important observations and discoveries. Two botanists, Joseph Banks, and Swede Daniel Solander, participated in Cook's first voyage. The two collected more than 3,000 species of plants. Banks' studies would later strongly promote British settlement in Australia.

Several artists also sailed with Cook's first voyage. Sydney Parkinson was heavily involved in documenting the botanists' findings, completing 264 drawings before his death near the end of the voyage. They were of immense scientific value to British botanists.Cook's second expedition, on the other hand, relied on William Hodges, who produced remarkable landscape paintings of Tahiti, Easter Island and other places visited.

Numerous officers who served under Cook later continued to particularly distinguish themselves. William Bligh, Cook's sailing master, obtained command of HMS Bounty in 1787 and sailed to Tahiti bringing back the breadfruit. Bligh is much better known, however, for the famous mutiny of his crew that eventually left him adrift at sea in 1789. He later became governor of New South Wales, where he was the subject of another mutiny-the Rum Rebellion-the only armed uprising by an Australian government to ever succeed. George Vancouver, one of Cook's midshipmen, later led the Vancouver Expedition, a voyage of exploration of the Pacific coast of North America, between 1791 and 1794. In honor of his famous former commander, Vancouver's new ship was also named Discovery. George Dixon had embarked on Cook's third expedition and later commanded an expedition of his own. A second lieutenant of Cook's, Henry Roberts, spent many years after that voyage preparing detailed maps that enriched the commander's posthumous Atlas, published around 1784.

Cook's great contribution to science was internationally recognized early in his life. In 1779, as the American colonies were fighting Britain for their independence, Benjamin Franklin wrote to the captains of colonial warships at sea, advising that if they came in contact with Cook's ship, they were required to

Unbeknownst to Franklin, Cook had already met his death a month before this "pass" was written.

Cook's voyages hold another unusual record: the first "female" to circumnavigate the globe was a goat (the first of which on the HMS Dolphin, under the command of Samuel Wallis. The animal was pressed into service as a personal milk provider for Cook, aboard the Endeavour. When they returned to England, Cook presented her with a silver collar engraved with verses by Samuel Johnson: Perpetui, ambita bis terra, praemia lactis Haec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis. She was later left to graze on Cook's farm outside London and, it was also reported, was admitted to the privileges of the Royal Naval hospital at Greenwich. Cook's diary recorded the date of "The Goat's" death: March 28, 1772.


One U.S. coin, the Hawaiian sesquicentennial half dollar, bears the image of Cook. Minted to mark the 150th anniversary of his 1928 discovery of Hawaii, the low number of specimens minted (just 10 008) made it a rare and expensive example of Early United States commemorative coins.The site where he was killed in Hawaii, Kealakekua Bayy, was marked in 1874 by a white obelisk raised on a 2.3 m2 area of open beach. This patch of land, although politically in Hawaii, was formally ceded to the United Kingdom.A town near the monument, Captain Cook, is named after Cook. Numerous Hawaiian commercial enterprises bear his name today. The Apollo 15 Endeavour Command and Service Module was named in honor of Cook's ship, HMS Endeavour. Another shuttle, the Discovery, was so named to commemorate the HMS Discovery of James Cook's third voyage.

The first institution of higher education in North Queensland, Australia, opened in Townsville in 1970 and was named in his honor James Cook University. In Australian slang, the expression "Captain Cook" means "look." Countless institutions, monuments, and place names reflect the importance of Cook's contributions to the Anglo-Saxon world, including the Cook Islands, Cook Strait, Cook Peninsula, and Cook Crater on the Moon. The Aoraki

One of the earliest monuments honoring Cook in the United Kingdom is at The Vache, erected in 1780 by Admiral Hugh Palliser, a contemporary of the captain and then owner of the estate. A huge obelisk was erected in 1827 as a monument to Cook on the hill of Easby Moor overlooking his childhood village, Great Ayton, along with a smaller monument at the site of Cook's former cottage.Another monument to Cook is at St. Andrew the Great Church on St. Andrew Street in Cambridge, where his son Hugh, a student at Christ's College, is buried. Cook's widow, Elizabeth, was also buried in the same church and in her will left money for the upkeep of the monument.The 250th anniversary of Cook's birth was celebrated at the site of his birthplace in Marton, Middlesbrough, with the opening in 1978 of the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum, located at Stewart Park. A granite vase just south of the museum marks the approximate spot where he was born. Tributes to Cook also abound in post-industrial Middlesbrough, including an elementary school, and the Bottle 'O Notes, an urban artwork by Claes Oldenburg, erected in 1993 in the town's public gardens. Also named after the captain is the James Cook University Hospital, a large teaching hospital opened in 2003.In 2002 a BBC poll placed Cook at number 12 among the greatest Britons of all time in the television program 100 Greatest Britons.


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