captain james cook's three voyages

“A General Chart: Exhibiting the Discoveries Made by Captn. James Cook in This and His Two Preceeding Voyages, with Tracks of the Ships under His Command.” Copperplate map, 36 × 57 cm. From the atlas volume of Cook’s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean . . . (London, 1784). [Rare Books Division]

Cook’s legacy: a revealed world. His world map was the most accurate at its time. During his life, he had explored farther north (70°44′ N) and farther south (71°10′ S) in the Pacific than any previous human being.

captain james cook's three voyages

Captain James Cook’s Fatal Third Voyage

Cook fails to find the North-West Passage and meets his end in his third major expedition

Back ashore and personally promoted to post-captain by George III, it was widely expected that Cook would spend his remaining days in semi-retirement.

As it turned out, he was soon discussing an expedition to find the fabled North-West Passage. On 12 July 1776, he was on his way.

Why did Cook make a third voyage?

Cook's third and last voyage was to find the North-West Passage believed to link the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. If Britain could find a way to enter the Pacific without having to sail through the treacherous seas around Cape Horn, it could open up all manner of trade advantages and the western coast of the Americas.

Cook again took the Resolution and another Whitby collier, the Discovery . They made their way to the Pacific to approach the Americas from the west.

On his way to explore the coastline of Alaska, he chanced upon Hawaii. When his best efforts to find a way through the frozen coastlines of North America failed - and the weather deteriorated - he returned to Hawaii to sit out winter.

Treated like a god

Addressed reverentially as ‘Orono’ and greeted with elaborate welcomes, it seems highly likely that the people of Hawaii considered Cook to be a god on his arrival. Cook seemed to play along with the pretence. After receiving elaborate and costly tributes, Cook and his crew eventually wore out their welcome. When they finally left Kealakekua Bay, it appeared that the previously welcoming locals were happy to see them go.

A fatal encounter

Cook's ships were forced to return just four days later because the Resolution needed repairs to her mast. This time the mood had changed.

When Cook tried to take the king hostage after the theft of a ship's boat, the inhabitants became alarmed and during a struggle Cook was stabbed and killed on 14 February 1779.

Captain Clerke took command of the ships, but he too died on the voyage and Lieutenant Gore finally brought the ships home.

James Cook and his voyages

The son of a farm labourer, James Cook (1728–1779) was born at Marton in Yorkshire. In 1747 he was apprenticed to James Walker, a shipowner and master mariner of Whitby, and for several years sailed in colliers in the North Sea, English Channel, Irish Sea and Baltic Sea. In 1755 he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy and was appointed an able seaman on HMS Eagle . Within two years he was promoted to the rank of master and in 1758 he sailed to North America on HMS Pembroke . His surveys of the St Lawrence River, in the weeks before the capture of Quebec, established his reputation as an outstanding surveyor. In 1763 the Admiralty gave him the task of surveying the coast of Newfoundland and southern Labrador. He spent four years on HMS Grenville , recording harbours and headlands, shoals and rocks, and also observed an eclipse of the sun in 1766.

First voyage

In May 1768 Cook was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and given command of the bark Endeavour . He was instructed to sail to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus in 1769 and also to ascertain whether a continent existed in the southern latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. The expedition, which included a party of scientists and artists led by Joseph Banks, left Plymouth in August 1768 and sailed to Brazil and around Cape Horn, reaching Tahiti in April 1769. After the astronomical observations were completed, Cook sailed south to 40°S, but failed to find any land. He then headed for New Zealand, which he circumnavigated, establishing that there were two principal islands. From New Zealand he sailed to New Holland, which he first sighted in April 1770. He charted the eastern coast, naming prominent landmarks and collecting many botanical specimens at Botany Bay. The expedition nearly ended in disaster when the Endeavour struck the Great Barrier Reef, but it was eventually dislodged and was careened and repaired at Endeavour River. From there it sailed around Cape York through Torres Strait to Batavia, in the Dutch East Indies. In Batavia and on the last leg of the voyage one-third of the crew died of malaria and dysentery. Cook and the other survivors finally reached England in July 1771.

Second voyage

In 1772 Cook, who had been promoted to the rank of captain, led a new expedition to settle once and for all the speculative existence of the Great Southern Continent by ‘prosecuting your discoveries as near to the South Pole as possible’. The sloops Resolution and Adventure , the latter commanded by Tobias Furneaux, left Sheerness in June 1772 and sailed to Cape Town. The ships became separated in the southern Indian Ocean and the Adventure sailed along the southern and eastern coasts of Van Diemen’s Land before reuniting with the Resolution at Queen Charlotte Sound in New Zealand. The ships explored the Society and Friendly Islands before they again became separated in October 1773. The Adventure sailed to New Zealand, where 10 of the crew were killed by Maori, and returned to England in June 1774. The Resolution sailed south from New Zealand, crossing the Antarctic Circle and reaching 71°10’S, further south than any ship had been before. It then traversed the southern Pacific Ocean, visiting Easter Island, Tahiti, the Friendly Islands, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and New Zealand. In November 1774 Cook began the homeward voyage, sailing to Chile, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, South Georgia and Cape Town. The expedition reached England in July 1775.

Third voyage

A year later Cook left Plymouth on an expedition to search for the North West Passage. His two ships were HMS Resolution and Discovery , the latter commanded by Charles Clerke. They sailed to Cape Town, Kerguelen Island in the southern Indian Ocean, Adventure Bay in Van Diemen’s Land, and Queen Charlotte Sound in New Zealand. They then revisited the Friendly and Society Islands. Sailing northwards, Cook became the first European to travel to the Hawaiian Islands (which he named the Sandwich Islands), and reached the North American coast in March 1778. The ships followed the coast northwards to Alaska and the Bering Strait and reached 70°44’N, before being driven back by ice. They returned to the Sandwich Islands and on 14 February 1779 Cook was killed by Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay. Clerke took over the command and in the summer of 1779 the expedition again tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the pack ice beyond Bering Strait. Clerke died in August 1779 and John Gore and James King commanded the ships on the voyage home via Macao and Cape Town. They reached London in October 1780.


The earliest acquisitions by the Library of original works concerning Cook’s voyages were the papers of Sir Joseph Banks and a painting of John Webber, which were acquired from E.A. Petherick in 1909. In 1923 the Australian Government purchased at a Sotheby’s sale in London the Endeavour journal of James Cook, together with four other Cook documents that had been in the possession of the Bolckow family in Yorkshire. The manuscripts of Alexander Home were purchased from the Museum Bookstore in London in 1925, while the journal of James Burney was received with the Ferguson Collection in 1970. A facsimile copy of the journal of the Resolution in 1772–75 was presented by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954.

The 18 crayon drawings of South Sea Islanders by William Hodges were presented to the Library by the British Admiralty in 1939. They had previously been in the possession of Greenwich Hospital. The view from Point Venus by Hodges was bought at a Christie’s sale in 1979. The paintings of William Ellis were part of the Nan Kivell Collection, with the exception of the view of Adventure Bay, which was bought from Hordern House in Sydney in 1993. The painting of the death of Cook by George Carter and most of the paintings of John Webber were also acquired from Rex Nan Kivell. The painting by John Mortimer was bequeathed to the Library by Dame Merlyn Myer and was received in 1987.



The Endeavour journal of James Cook (MS 1) is the most famous item in the Library’s collections. It has been the centrepiece of many exhibitions ever since its acquisition in 1923, and in 2001 it became the first Australian item to be included on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) Memory of the World Register. While there are other journals of the first voyage that are partly in Cook’s hand, MS 1 is the only journal that is entirely written by Cook and covers the whole voyage of the Endeavour . The early entries in 1768, as the ship crossed the Atlantic Ocean, are brief but the passages describing Cook’s experiences and impressions in Tahiti, New Zealand and New South Wales in 1769–70 are very detailed. The journal, which is 753 pages in length, was originally a series of paper volumes and loose sheets, but they were bound into a single volume in the late nineteenth century. The current binding of oak and pigskin dates from 1976.

Two other manuscripts, also acquired in 1923, relate to the first voyage. The Endeavour letterbook (MS 2), in the hand of Cook’s clerk, Richard Orton, contains copies of Cook’s correspondence with the Admiralty and the various branches of the Navy Board. Of particular importance are the original and additional secret instructions that he received from the Lords of the Admiralty in July 1768. The other item (MS 3) is a log of the voyage, ending with the arrival in Batavia. The writer is not known, although it may have been Charles Green, the astronomer. Other documents concerning the voyage are among the papers of Joseph Banks (MS 9), including his letters to the Viceroy of Brazil in 1768 and the ‘Hints’ of the Earl of Morton, the president of the Royal Society.

The Library holds a facsimile copy (MS 1153) of the journal of HMS Resolution on the second voyage, the original of which is in the National Maritime Museum in London. It is in the hand of Cook’s clerk, William Dawson. It also holds the journal (MS 3244) of James Burney, a midshipman on HMS Adventure , covering the first part of the voyage in 1772–73. It includes a map of eastern Van Diemen’s Land and Burney’s transcription of Tongan music. In addition, there is a letterbook (MS 6) of the Resolution for both the second and third voyages. Documents of the third voyage include an account of the death of Cook (MS 8), probably dictated by Burney, and two manuscripts of Alexander Home (MS 690). They contain descriptions of Tahiti and Kamtschatka and another account of Cook’s death.

The earliest manuscript of Cook in the collection is his description of the coast of Nova Scotia, with two maps of Harbour Grace and Carbonere, dating from 1762 (MS 5). The Library holds original letters of Cook written to John Harrison, George Perry, Sir Philip Stephens and the Commissioners of Victualling. There is also in the Nan Kivell Collection a group of papers and letters of the Cook family, 1776–1926 (MS 4263).

MS 1 Journal of the H.M.S. Endeavour, 1768-1771

MS 2 Cook's voyage 1768-71 : copies of correspondence, etc. 1768-1771

MS 3 Log of H.M.S. Endeavour, 1768-1770

MS 5 Description of the sea coast of Nova Scotia, 1762

MS 6 Letterbook, 1771-1778

MS 8 Account of the death of James Cook, 1779

MS 9 Papers of Sir Joseph Banks, 1745-1923

MS 690 Home, Alexander, Journals, 1777-1779

MS 1153 Journal of H.M.S. Resolution, 1772-1775

MS 3244 Burney, James, Journal, 1772-1773

MS 4263 Family papers 1776-1926

Many records relating to the voyages of Cook have been microfilmed at the National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office) in London and other archives and libraries in Britain. They include the official log of HMS Endeavour and the private journals kept by Cook on his second and third voyages. The reels with the prefixes PRO or M were filmed by the Australian Joint Copying Project.

mfm PRO 3268 Letters of Capt. James Cook to the Admiralty, 1768–79 (Adm. 1/1609-12)

mfm PRO 1550–51 Captain’s log books, HMS Adventure , 1772–74 (Adm. 51/4521-24)

mfm PRO 1554 Captain’s log books, HMS Discovery , 1776–79 (Adm. 51/ 4528-9)

mfm PRO 1554 Captain’s log books, HMS Resolution , 1779 (Adm. 51/4529)

mfm PRO 1555–6 Captain’s log books, HMS Discovery , 1776–79 (Adm. 51/4530-1)

mfm PRO 1561–3 Captain’s log books, HMS Endeavour , 1768–71 (Adm. 51/4545-8)

mfm PRO 1565–70 Captain’s log books, HMS Resolution , 1771–79 (Adm. 51/4553-61)

mfm PRO 1572 Logbooks, HMS Adventure , 1772–74 (Adm. 53/1)

mfm PRO 1575–6 Logbooks, HMS Discovery , 1776–79 (Adm. 53/20-24)

mfm PRO 1580 Logbooks, HMS Endeavour , 1768–71 (Adm. 53/39-41)

mfm PRO 1590–4 Logbooks, HMS Resolution , 1771–80 (Adm. 53/103-24)

mfm PRO 1756 Logbook, HMS Adventure , 1772–74 (BL 44)

mfm PRO 1756 Observations made on board HMS Adventure , 1772–74 (BL 45)

mfm PRO 1756A Logbook, HMS Resolution , 1772–75 (BL 46)

mfm PRO 1756 Observations made on board HMS Resolution , 1772–75 (BL 47)

mfm PRO 1756 Journal of Capt. J. Cook: observations on variations in compass and chronometer rates, 1776 (BL 48)

mfm PRO 1756 Astronomical observations, HMS Resolution , 1778–80 (BL 49)

mfm PRO 4461–2 Ship’s musters, HMS Endeavour , 1768–71 (Adm. 12/8569)

mfm PRO 4462–3 Ship’s musters, HMS Adventure , 1769–74 (Adm. 12/7550)

mfm PRO 4463–4 Ship’s musters, HMS Resolution , 1771–75 (Adm. 12/7672)

mfm PRO 4464 Ship’s musters, HMS Discovery , 1776–80 (Adm. 12/8013)

mfm PRO 4464–5 Ship’s musters, HMS Resolution , 1776–80 (Adm. 12/9048-9)

mfm PRO 6119 Deptford Yard letterbooks, 1765-78 (Adm. 106/3315-8)

MAP mfm M 406 Charts and tracings of Australian and New Zealand coastlines by R. Pickersgill and Capt. James Cook, 1769–70 (Hydrographic Department)

mfm M 869 Letters of David Samwell, 1773–82 (Liverpool City Libraries)

mfm M 1561 Log of HMS Endeavour , 1768–71 (British Library)

mfm M 1562 Journal of Capt. Tobias Furneaux on HMS Adventure , 1772–74 (British Library)

mfm M1563 Drawings of William Hodges on voyage of HMS Resolution , 1772–74 (British Library)

mfm M 1564 Log of Lieut. Charles Clerke on HMS Resolution , 1772–75 (British Library)

mfm M 1565 Journal of Lieut. James Burney on HMS Discovery , 1776–79 (British Library)

mfm M 1566 Journal of Thomas Edgar on HMS Discovery , 1776–79

mfm M 1580 Journal of Capt. James Cook on HMS Resolution , 1771–74 (British Library)

mfm M 1580–1 Journal of Capt. James Cook on HMS Resolution , 1776–79 (British Library)

mfm M 1583 Journal of David Samwell on HMS Resolution and Discovery , 1776–79 (British Library)

mfm M 2662 Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, 1768–1819 (Natural History Museum)

mfm M 3038 Letters of Capt. James Cook, 1775–77 (National Maritime Museum)

mfm M 3074 Drafts of Capt. James Cook’s account of his second voyage (National Maritime Museum)

mfm G 9 Journal of voyage of HMS Endeavour , 1768–71 (National Maritime Museum)

mfm G 13 Journal of voyage of HMS Resolution , 1772–75 (National Maritime Museum)

mfm G 27412 Journal of Capt. James Cook on HMS Endeavour , 1768–70 (Mitchell Library)

The only manuscript maps drawn by Cook held in the Library are the two maps of Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia, contained in MS 5. The map by James Burney of Van Diemen’s Land, contained in his 1773–74 journal, is the only manuscript map in the Library emanating from Cook’s three Pacific voyages.

On the first voyage most of the surveys were carried out by Cook himself, assisted by Robert Molyneux, the master, and Richard Pickersgill, the master’s mate. Cook produced some of the fair charts, but it seems that most were drawn by Isaac Smith, one of the midshipmen. After the voyage the larger charts were engraved by William Whitchurch and a number of engravers worked on the smaller maps. The Library holds nine maps (six sheets) and five coastal views (one sheet) published in 1773, as well as two French maps of New Zealand and New South Wales based on Cook’s discoveries (1774).

Cook and Pickersgill, who had been promoted to lieutenant, carried out most of the surveys on the second voyage. Others were performed by Joseph Gilbert, master of the Resolution , Peter Fannin, master of the Adventure , the astronomer William Wales and James Burney. Isaac Smith, the master’s mate, again drew most of the fair charts of the voyage and William Whitchurch again did most of the engravings. The Library holds 15 maps (10 sheets) published in 1777.

On the third voyage, Cook seems to have produced very few charts. Most of the surveys were carried out by William Bligh, master of the Resolution , and Thomas Edgar, master of the Discovery . Henry Roberts, the master’s mate and a competent artist, made the fair charts and after the voyage he drew the compilation charts from which the engraved plates were produced. Alexander Dalrymple supervised the engravings. The Library holds five maps and five coastal views published in 1784–86.

old map showing the world as it was known at the time of James Cook, with Australia in roughly the centre of the map. Asia, Europe and Africa above and to the left of Australia and the Americas to the right.

The Library holds a number of objects that allegedly belonged to Cook, such as a walking stick, a clothes brush and a fork. A more substantial artefact is a mahogany and rosewood fall-front desk that was believed to have been used by Cook on one of his voyages. Other association items are a compass, protractor, ruler and spirit level owned by Alexander Hood, the master’s mate on HMS Resolution in 1772–75.

Three of the medals issued by the Royal Society in 1784 to commemorate the achievements of Cook are held in the Library. Another medal issued in 1823 to commemorate his voyages is also held.

The Library has several collections of tapa cloth, including a piece of cloth and two reed maps brought back by Alexander Hood in 1774 and a catalogue of 56 specimens of cloth collected on Cook’s three voyages (1787).

Captain James Cook's walking stick

Clothes brush said to have been the property of Captain Cook

Captain James Cook's fork

Mahogany fall-front bureau believed to have been used by Captain Cook

Compass, protractor, ruler and spirit level owned by Alexander Hood

Commemorative medal to celebrate the voyages of Captain James Cook (1784)

Medal to commemorate the voyages of Captain Cook (1823)

Sample of tapa cloth and two reed mats brought back by Alex Hood

A catalogue of the different specimens of cloth collected in the three voyages of Captain Cook

The Library holds a very large number of engraved portraits of James Cook, many of them based on the paintings by Nathaniel Dance, William Hodges and John Webber. It also holds two oil portraits by unknown artists, one being a copy of the portrait by Dance held in the National Maritime Museum in London. Of special interest is a large oil painting by John Mortimer, possibly painted in 1771, depicting Daniel Solander, Joseph Banks, James Cook, John Hawkesworth and Lord Sandwich.

There were two artists on the Endeavour : Alexander Buchan, who died in Tahiti in 1769, and Sydney Parkinson, who died in Batavia in 1771. The Library has a few original works that have been attributed to Parkinson, in particular a watercolour of breadfruit, which is in the Nan Kivell Collection. In addition, there are a number of prints that were reproduced in the publications of Hawkesworth and Parkinson in 1773, including the interior of a Tahitian house, the fort at Point Venus, a view of Matavai Bay, Maori warriors and war canoes, mountainous country on the west coast of New Zealand, and a view of Endeavour River.

William Hodges was the artist on the Resolution in 1772–75. The Library holds an outstanding collection of 18 chalk drawings by Hodges of the heads of Pacific Islanders. They depict men and women of New Zealand, Tahiti, Tonga, New Caledonia, New Hebrides and Easter Island. Other works by Hodges include an oil painting of a dodo and a red parakeet, watercolours of Tahiti, Tonga and the New Hebrides, and an oil painting of Point Venus. There are also two pen and wash drawings of the Resolution by John Elliott, who was a midshipman on the ship. Among the prints of Hodges are other heads of Pacific Islanders, a portrait of Omai, the Tahitian who visited England in 1775–76, and views of Tahiti, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, Norfolk Island, Easter Island and Tierra del Fuego.

John Webber, who was on the Resolution in 1776–80, had been trained as a landscape artist in Berne and Paris. Another artist on the expedition was William Ellis, the surgeon’s mate on the Discovery , who was a fine draughtsman. The Library holds 19 of Webber’s watercolours, ink and wash drawings, crayon drawings and pencil drawings of views in Tahiti, the Friendly Islands, the Sandwich Islands, Alaska and Kamchatka. There are also oil portraits by Webber of John Gore and James King. Ellis is equally well represented, with 23 watercolours, ink drawings and pencil drawings of scenes in Kerguelen Island, New Zealand, Tahiti, Nootka Sound, Alaska and Kamchatka. Of particular interest is a watercolour and ink drawing by Ellis of the Resolution and Discovery moored in Adventure Bay in 1777, the earliest original Australian work in the Pictures Collection. The death of Cook is the subject of the largest oil painting in the Library’s collection, painted by George Carter in 1781.

Omai, the first Polynesian to be seen in London, was the subject of a number of portraits, included a celebrated painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds. The Library has a pencil drawing of Omai by Reynolds. A pantomime by John O’Keefe entitled Omai, or a Trip Round the World , enjoyed great success in London in 1785–86, being played more than 50 times. The Library holds a collection of 17 watercolour costume designs for the pantomime, drawn by Philippe de Loutherbourg and based mainly on drawings by Webber. The subjects include ‘Obereyaee enchatress’, ‘Otoo King of Otaheite’, ‘a chief of Tchutzki’ and ‘a Kamtchadale’.



Beddie,M.K. (ed.), Bibliography of Captain James Cook, R,N., F.R.S., circumnavigator , Library of New South Wales, Sydney, 1970.

Original Accounts of the Voyages

Hawkesworth, John, An account of the voyages undertaken by the order of His Present Majesty, for making discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour (3 vols, 1773)

Parkinson, Sydney, A journal of the voyage to the South Seas, in His Majesty’s Ship, the Endeavour (1773)

Marra, John, Journal of the Resolution’s Voyage, in 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775, on Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere (1775)

Cook, James, A voyage towards the South Pole, and round the world: performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and the Adventure in the years 1772,1773, 1774, and 1775 (2 vols, 1777)

Forster, Georg, A voyage round the world in His Britannic Majesty’s Sloop, Resolution, Commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the years 1772, 3, 4 and 5 (2 vols, 1777)

Wales, William, The original astronomical observations, made in the course of a voyage towards the South Pole, and round the world (1777)

Rickman, John, Journal of Captain Cook’s last voyage to the Pacific Ocean, on discovery: performed in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, and 1779 (1781)

Zimmermann, Heinrich, Heinrich Zimmermanns von Wissloch in der Pfalz, Reise um die Welt, mit Capitain Cook (1781)

Ellis, William, An authentic narrative of a voyage performed by Captain Cook and Captain Clerke, in His Majesty’s ships Resolution and Discovery during the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780 (2 vols, 1782)

Ledyard, John, Journal of Captain Cook’s last voyage to the Pacific Ocean, and in quest of a North-West Passage Between Asia & America, performed in the years 1776, 1777, 1778 and 1779 (1783)

Cook, James and King, James, A voyage to the Pacific Ocean: undertaken by Command of His Majesty, for making discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere, performed under the direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780 (4 vols, 1784)

Sparrman, Anders, Reise nach dem Vorgebirge der guten Hoffnung, den sudlischen Polarlandern und um die Welt (1784)

Modern Texts

Beaglehole, J.C. (ed.), The Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks, 1768–1771 (2 vols, 1962)

Beaglehole, J.C. (ed.), The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery (4 vols, 1955–74)

David, Andrew (ed.), The charts & coastal Views of Captain Cook’s voyages (3 vols, 1988–97)

Hooper, Beverley (ed.), With Captain James Cook in the Antarctic and Pacific: the private journal of James Burney, Second Lieutenant on the Adventure on Cook’s second voyage, 1772–1773 (1975)

Joppien, Rudiger and Smith, Bernard, The art of Captain Cook’s voyages (3 vols in 4, 1985–87)

Parkin, Ray, H.M. Bark Endeavour: her place in Australian history: with an account of her construction, crew and equipment and a narrative of her voyage on the East Coast of New Holland in 1770 (1997)

Biographical Works and Related Studies

There are a huge number of books and pamphlets on the lives of Cook, Banks and their associates. The following are some of the more substantial works:

Alexander, Michael, Omai, noble savage (1977)

Beaglehole, J.C., The life of Captain James Cook (1974)

Besant, Walter, Captain Cook (1890)

Blainey, Geoffrey,  Sea of dangers: Captain Cook and his rivals  (2008)

Cameron, Hector, Sir Joseph Banks, K.B., P.R.S.: the autocrat of the philosophers (1952)

Carr, D.J., Sydney Parkinson, artist of Cook’s Endeavour voyage (1983)

Carter, Harold B., Sir Joseph Banks, 1743–1820 (1988)

Collingridge, Vanessa, Captain Cook: obsession and betrayal in the New World (2002)

Connaughton, Richard, Omai, the Prince who never was (2005)

Dugard, Martin, Farther than any man: the rise and fall of Captain James Cook (2001)

Duyker, Edward, Nature’s argonaut: Daniel Solander 1733–1782: naturalist and voyager with Cook and Banks (1998)

Furneaux, Rupert, Tobias Furneaux, circumnavigator (1960)

Gascoigne, John, Captain Cook: voyager between worlds (2007)

Hoare, Michael E., The tactless philosopher: Johann Reinhold Forster (1729–98) (1976)

Hough, Richard, Captain James Cook: a biography (1994)

Kippis, Andrew, The life of Captain James Cook (1788)

Kitson, Arthur, Captain James Cook, RN, FRS, the circumnavigator (1907)

Lyte, Charles, Sir Joseph Banks: 18th Century explorer, botanist and entrepreneur (1980)

McAleer, John and Rigby, Nigel, Captain Cook and the Pacific: art, exploration & empire (2017)

McCormick, E.H., Omai: Pacific envoy (1977)

McLynn, Frank, Captain Cook: master of the seas (2011)

Molony, John N., Captain James Cook: claiming the Great South Land (2016)

Moore, Peter, Endeavour: the ship and the attitude that changed the world (2018)

Mundle, Rob, Cook (2013)

Nugent, Maria, Captain Cook was here (2009)

Obeyesekere, Gananath, The apotheosis of Captain Cook: European mythmaking in the Pacific (1992)

O’Brian, Patrick, Joseph Banks, a life (1987)

Rienits, Rex and Rienits, Thea, The voyages of Captain Cook , 1968)

Robson, John, Captain Cook's war and peace: the Royal Navy years 1755-1768 (2009)

Sahlins, Marshall, How ‘natives’ think: about Captain Cook, for example (1995)

Saine, Thomas P., Georg Forster (1972)

Smith, Edward, The life of Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society (1911)

Thomas, Nicholas, Cook: The extraordinary voyages of Captain James Cook (2003)

Villiers, Alan, Captain Cook, the seamen’s seaman: a study of the great discoverer (1967).


The manuscripts of Cook and his associates are held in the Manuscripts Collection at various locations. They have been catalogued individually. Some of them have been microfilmed, such as the Endeavour journal (mfm G27412), the Endeavour log and letterbook (mfm G3921) and the Resolution letterbook (mfm G3758). The Endeavour journal and letterbook and the papers of Sir Joseph Banks have been digitised and are accessible on the Library’s website. The microfilms have also been catalogued individually and are accessible in the Newspaper and Microcopy Reading Room.

The paintings, drawings, prints and objects are held in the Pictures Collection, while the maps and published coastal views are held in the Maps Collection. They have been catalogued individually and many of them have been digitised.

Biskup, Peter, Captain Cook’s Endeavour Journal and Australian Libraries: A Study in Institutional One-upmanship , Australian Academic and Research Libraries , vol. 18 (3), September 1987, pp. 137–49.

Cook & Omai: The Cult of the South Seas , National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2001.

Dening, Greg, MS 1 Cook, J. Holograph Journal , in Cochrane, Peter (ed.), Remarkable Occurrences: The National Library of Australia’s First 100 Years 1901–2001 , National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2001.

Healy, Annette, The Endeavour Journal 1768–71 , National Library of Australia, Canberra, 1997.

Healy, Annette, ' Charting the voyager of the Endeavour journal ', National Library of Australia News, volume 7(3), December 1996, pp 9-12

Hetherington, Michelle, 'John Hamilton Mortimer and the discovery of Captain Cook', British Art Journal, volume 4 (1), 2003, pp. 69-77

First posted 2008 (revised 2019)

The National Library of Australia acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples – the First Australians – as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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captain james cook's three voyages

Captain Cook’s voyages of exploration

Terra Australis Incognita - the unknown southern land. The existence (or not) of this mysterious, mythical place has intrigued philosophers, explorers and map-makers since it was first hypothesised by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The empire-builders of 18th century Britain were just as obsessed with investigating territories below the Equator.

In 1768, when Captain James Cook set sail on the first of three voyages to the South Seas, he carried with him secret orders from the British Admiralty to seek ‘a Continent or Land of great extent’ and to take possession of that country ‘in the Name of the King of Great Britain’.

While each of Cook's three epic journeys had their own aims and significant achievements, it was this confidential agenda that would transform the way Europeans engaged with the Pacific, its lands and inhabitants. The maps, journals, log books and paintings from Cook’s travels are just some of the State Library’s incredible records of this exciting time.

captain james cook's three voyages

The first voyage

James Cook's first Pacific voyage (1768-1771) was aboard the  Endeavour  and began on 27 May 1768. Cook’s voyage had three aims; to establish an observatory at Tahiti in order to record the transit of Venus (when the planet passed between the earth and the sun), on 3 June 1769. The second aim was to record natural history, led by 25-year-old Joseph Banks. The final secret goal was to continue the search for the Great South Land. 

Cook reached the southern coast of New South Wales in 1770 and sailed north, charting Australia’s eastern coastline and claiming the land for Great Britain on 22nd August 1770.

captain james cook's three voyages

The second voyage

Cook's second Pacific voyage, (1772-1775), aimed to establish whether there was an inhabited southern continent, and make astronomical observations.

The two ships  Resolution  and  Adventure  were fitted out for the expedition. In 1772, before he set out, Cook created a map which showed the discoveries made in the Southern Ocean up until 1770 and sketched out his proposed route for the upcoming voyage. In 1773, accompanied by naturalists, astronomers and an artist, Cook made his first crossing of the Antarctic Circle, claiming that he had been further south than any person. During a voyage of 100,000 km, Cook sailed south of the Antarctic Circle (at 66˚30’S) on three occasions, proving that the southern landmass was neither as large or as habitable as once thought. Cook also discovered several islands along the Scotia Arc, initiating the commercial interest that underpinned much of the focus on Antarctica over the next 150 years.

The third voyage

Cook’s third and final voyage (1776-1779) of discovery was an attempt to locate a North-West Passage, an ice-free sea route which linked the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Again, Cook commanded the  Resolution  while Charles Clerke commanded  Discovery . Leaving England in 1776, Cook first sailed south to Tahiti to return Omai, a Tahitian man, to his home. Omai had been taken on Cook’s second voyage and had been an object of curiosity in London. It was on this, Cook's final voyage, that he discovered the Hawaiian Islands in January 1778. This major discovery would lead to his death – Cook was killed on a return visit to Hawaii at Kealakekua Bay, on 14 February 1779.

captain james cook's three voyages

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Captain James Cook - His Third Voyage

His achievements over the past seven years were immense. He had made two tremendous journeys across the Pacific sweeping clear the imaginings of academics, pinned down Antarctica, defeated Cape Horn twice, established sailing routes to Australia and New Zealand, and set up excellent relations with the "noble savages" of the South Seas, the Polynesians. He had accurately mapped the locations of Australia and New Zealand, either achievement would have been a sufficient life's work. He had discovered or rediscovered almost every island group of importance in the South Seas and precisely charted them. He had lead crews of ordinary seamen through shipwreck and hazards in little ships twice around the Earth sailing a total of over 120,000 miles, loosing not one man to scurvy.

James Cook was promoted post Captain, a notable achievement for the ex-mate of a Whitby cat, but long overdue. He was again presented to King George III, and read accounts of his voyages to the Royal Society. For a paper written on the preservation of health for long voyage seamen he was awarded the Society's Copley Gold Medal. Cook and his wife dined with some of England's most prominent citizens. He was recognized across Europe as one of the great discoverers of the age. He had also proven that the Harrison chronometer was the answer to accurately calculating longitude.

A World Map Not Yet Completed

But there remained one great unknown, this time in the North Pacific. Could it be that there were a passage north of or through North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific? A more direct passageway from Europe to China and the East had been sought after from the Atlantic side. No effort had been made to discover such a route starting from the Pacific except by John Byron, who had discovered much of nothing.

In James Cook, however, admiralty saw a man who not only carried out his orders but used his judgment to better them. His ordered goals were to find a Northwest Passage around North America and if this route did not exist, look for a Northeast Passage around Siberia and back to Europe from the Pacific side.

In England at this time, knowledge of the west coast of the Americas started at the southern end of South America and ended at Drake's New Albion, which today was officially recognized by the United States Department of the Interior in October 2012 as Point Reyes, California. But in 1775 nobody quite knew where this was. James Cook would have to find Drake's Bay first, and start from there.

James Cook accepted the assignment from Admiralty. He was 47 years old, had been at sea for most of the past 30 years and deserved a longer leave, if not retirement. But there was no one better suited for the task than him.

It was 1775 and the 462 ton Resolution had been back in England for less than six weeks when Admiralty ordered that she be reconditioned for yet another “voyage to remote parts.” There was great demand on the shipyards as a consequence of war in American. The Resolution received a hasty retrofit even though Cook had returned her in good condition, considering what she had been through. The ship was indifferently caulked and poorly rigged but when the time for departure came she was well manned and stored, Cook made sure of this.

On this voyage Cook was to be his own astronomer and scientist, while William Anderson would serve as botanist and naturalist. The role of Executive Officer was filled by John Gore, a good fit as he had also served aboard the Endeavour for Cook’s first voyage. The crew included six midshipmen, a cook and his assistant, six quartermasters, twenty marines, and forty-five seamen. Another ship named Discovery , a 300 ton Whitby collier, would serve as the expeditions sister ship, commanded by Charles Clerke.

The Resolution was about 111 ft long, 30 ft wide, with a draught of 13 ft . She carried 112 crew including 20 marines along with 24 cannons. The Discovery was a bit smaller, 91 ft long, 27 ft wide, with a draught of 11 ft , and carried a complement of 70 seamen and 8 cannons.

On July 12, 1776, almost 1 year from his return from the second voyage, James Cook took the Resolution out to sea from Plymouth, England. They sailed through a channel filled with ships bound for the American Revolutionary War. Many thought the voyage to seek new discoveries on the west coast of North America was a little odd, since the east coast was battling for independence from those same discoverers.

But no one knew anything about the American west coast as of yet except for a few brave Spanish explorers and maybe an isolated Russian fur trader or two. And the longitude of the area had yet to be determined acurately. Cook's orders were to first sail to the South Indian Ocean to check on certain discoveries made by the French and assess their value as possible naval bases. Then he was to make way to the familiar islands of Tahiti. After that he was to sail into the North Pacific and explore everything north of Drakes Bay (northern California) until he found a sea passage to the North Atlantic.

This would take at least two summers with winter refuge anchored in Kamchatka (Russia) or elsewhere. If he were to find the Northwest Passage he was to sail back to the Atlantic by that means, making detailed surveys along the way. All this added up to the toughest and longest voyage Cook had ever made: Sailing down both Atlantics, rounding the Cape of Good Hope, crossing almost the entire length and breadth of the Pacific from sub Antarctic to Arctic and then back to England.

A Rough Start

As soon as they were off into the Atlantic the Resolution began to leak terribly. The crew could see the chaulker's shoddy work as the ship lifted and plunged through the sea. All the crew's quarters were soaked and the spare sails became sodden and moldy. Water seeped down through ceilings, not seriously but miserable none the less.

The crew aired the sails, reworked the rigging, and set charcoal fires wherever they could inside the ship as she made her way south. This was especially annoying for the crew since they had returned the ship to port in such good condition.

Cook blamed himself for the state of the Resolution . A ship in the dockyard has to be looked after even more carefully than when on voyage. And Cook had tried to enjoy his appointment at Greenwich Hospital as much as he could. With all of his duties it was not easy to get from his home to the dockyard. And Mrs. Cook knew nothing of the voyage until it was nearly time to leave. Its seems James Cook tried to enjoy the year at home to its fullest extent.

The crew did what they could to sustain the ship. There is evidence that Cook was not himself during this voyage. His digestive system was still strained and his iron will not quite as strong as it was. Before they reached the Cape of Good Hope the mizzen topmast was found to be cracked and not able to bear sail. A ship on such a long journey needs all of her masts. At the Cape Cook bought a replacement. Both the Resolution and the Discovery were recaulked at port.

On November 30, 1776, both ships sailed on to almost 50° S. They passed Tasmania and Cook's favorite, Queen Charlotte's Sound in New Zealand. A shift of wind threw the ship and the mizzen mast came down, thankfully clearing the decks. On January 19 near 45° S the fore topmast came down and brought the topgallant mast with it. This was a mess but the crew worked tirelessly to rebuild the ship as she rolled violently through the sea. She was fitted with enough sail for the Roaring Forties.

Cook diverted towards Adventure Bay on the southeast of Tasmania to find trees for new masts and fresh food. This was his only visit to Tasmania, a beautiful island with excellent harbors and some of the best ship building timber in the world. Cook notes that there were very few natives to the island, and that they did not have any kind of sea transport, not even canoes for fishing. He was in a hurry, hoping to reach the northern coasts of North America by summer. The crew caught an abundance of fish, cut a few spars, harvested grass and firewood and sailed on.

It was near the end of February when the ships passed New Zealand. This time Cook made a northeasterly course which brought him to Hervey Islands (now the Cook islands), which offered no anchorages and little refreshments. Cook now accepted that he could not reach North America that summer and made for the nearby Friendly Islands.

Here they received good reception from the locals. There was however the immense problem of thievery. Even the local chiefs were not above bold faced robbery and having caught one Cook fined him one hog and gave him a dozen lashes which he accepted stoically and fairly due. The stealing became so bad that Cook began to shave the heads of those who were caught. They hated to lose their long locks, but they still stole.

In spite of the thievery, their time in the Friendly islands was rather good. A private house was given to Cook. The natives were giving seeds for all types of new vegetables as was customary. The two ships sailed on for Tahiti, where two crewmen from the Discovery deserted. Cook knew that any successful desertion could start an exodus, as a casual life in Tahiti was more appealing than life in Victorian England. Cook seized canoes, houses, and chiefs, demanding the crewmen be returned. Armed searches were performed and the two men were finally found in Bora Bora and returned.

In the meantime Cook made a discovery in another field. He had been suffering badly from rheumatism, especially from his hips to his feet. A friendly chief offered to help and Surgeon Anderson approved. Twelve women, the chief's relatives, were paddled out ceremoniously to the Resolution and descended into the great cabin. Cook was told to lie down on a mattress whereby the women began pummeling, squeezing, and massaging his entire body unmercifully, especially the rheumatic joints. After about 15 minutes Cook stood up and to his astonishment felt much better. Two more treatments cured him. The rheumatism went away and did not return.

North Across the Pacific

Now it was time to leave familiar islands. Cook's plan was to sail north with the southeast trade wind on the starboard beam, make their way through the doldrums as best they could, then pick up the northeast trades and sail north out of them running eastward from there on. It was futile to sail against the trade winds, better to use them for latitude.

On Christmas Eve of 1777, Cook sighted the island named Christmas. They pressed on until they saw three high mountain islands. It was January, 1778. They approached the island and managed to get an anchor down. Canoes were sent out by unarmed natives who spoke Tahitian. The crew wondered how the Tahitians could have sailed over such great distances. Cook and his seamen had encountered these same people over an enormous area, from Bora Bora to New Zealand to Tahiti and now to this island called Atui by to locals. This island is now called Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands. The site of their landing is near the present day town of Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii. This marks the first contact with ancient Hawaiians by a European.

Islanders brought out pigs, potatoes, sugar cane, and traded them for whatever they were offered. The sight of strange men from Europe and enormous sailing ships was like nothing they had ever seen and could hardly believe. When Cook landed all the natives in sight fell upon their faces "and remained in that very humble posture till, by expressive signs I prevailed upon them to rise," wrote the captain.

A long speech was made, presents exchanged, and friendships pledged. As Cook and his party moved about the island, never far from the beach, the locals "fell prostrate on the ground and remained in that position until we passed." The crew thought the practice was only a way of paying respect. It dawned on none of them that it could be something more than that.

With fresh supplies the two ships set sail once again. On 40° N in February of 1778, the west winds found the ships. A month later the coast of a great continent came in sight, North America. Beautiful distant snowcapped mountains were seen. Cook turned north and made a running survey of the land as they went.

The discovery of a sailing route across what is now Canada and the northern United States was now obviously impossible to Cook, as he could see great mountains blocking the way. It could hardly matter what bays, inlets, or gulfs might be found as these majestic mountains could be seen far inland. He was now well aware of the immense stretch of land in place of where this open water was hoped to be. He had previously surveyed the eastern side of the continent, Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He now knew the longitude of the west coast as well.

From Cape Race in Newfoundland to the coast of Oregon, 70° of longitude, over 4,000 miles! What a magnificent country! As they trekked north the coast trended westward. And the wind was west, always forcing towards land. There were intense squalls and fogs. The coast of Washington and Oregon were notorious in the sailing ship era and Cape Flattery (named by Cook) was rated then with Hatteras, the Horn, and Good Hope as the four most dangerous headlands in the world.

Cook took the ships into Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The natives traded fish and furs and practiced even more thievery. Sailing on, it was now April of 1778 and the Resolution began to leak badly again. Water could be heard and seen entering the ship but it appeared the gaps were all above the waterline. Water was pumped and bailed overboard as the ship rocked violently through the rough weather.

This was a bad shape for the Resolution to approach the Arctic in. Cook was in desperate need of a good harbor to make repairs. He was now well inside Alaskan waters and had already sailed past the sheltered and beautiful bays of the Puget Sound. He kept well out to sea as this was a north-south passage. The coast was sheltered by offshore islands at the base of picturesque mountains and fed by glaciers. This was a beautiful place in the summer but futile towards any hope of a Northwest Passage.

It is a shame that here Cook missed Valdez off of Prince Williams Sound, as it would make for a good location for repairs and is ice free year round. They were above 60° N now off the coast of British Colombia and northwest Alaska. From here the Alaskan mainland turned south, to Cook's surprise. The hazy weather made finding a suitable harbor difficult. Off of Prince William Sound, not far from Valdez, Cook found a sheltered spot he named Snug Corner Bay, north of Montague Island. Making anchor they found all the oakum gone below the wooden sheathing. This was repaired while Eskimos came out in kayaks and canoes in an attempt to seize the Discovery , armed with knives. Cook demonstrated that they could kill at range and the Eskimos turned away. None were killed, Cook wanted no one murdered.

Observations showed the ships to be over 1,500 miles west of any part of Hudson's Bay. Despite the appearance of many arms leading off from the Sound, the behavior of the tides showed that it was a waste of time to seek a Northwest Passage there. It was now May. Cook must push north somehow. To do this he must first go southwest along the Alaskan coast. The more promising gulfs were inspected by boat, but they were all useless.

The two ships had not gone far to the southwest before coming to a headland that swung around to the north. Could this be the passage they had been looking for? It was at least the best lead Cook had seen so far. Passage or not it was a considerable discovery. Before long it was observed that their newly discovered waterway was fed only by rivers. Its waters became shallow and almost fresh water, abundant signs that they were in a large river. Today it is called Cook Inlet, famous mountain lined broad waters that lead to the city of Anchorage, Alaska.

Sailing on down the Alaskan coast they met with natives to discuss their knowledge of the local geography and to trade iron for salmon. At Unalaska, they met a party of Russian fur traders. They showed the Englishmen their charts of the area between Kamchatka and Alaska, but had no knowledge of a Northwest Passage. The English and Russians got along wonderfully.

Beyond Unalaska and the Aleutian Islands were the Bering Sea and the Bering Strait. Beyond these was the Chuckchee Sea and the impassible ice jam of the Arctic. Cook sailed on, noting the outflow of the Yukon River. They sailed around Alaska and right up to the Arctic ice, huge impregnable fields of it, not far from Point Barrow. If a sea passage reached the Atlantic from here, which it did, it was ice jammed even in the summer and was therefore useless.

Cook reached nearly 71° N and sailed east between the mainland and crushing sea ice to just beyond Point Barrow, Alaska, about 1,000 miles south of the North Pole. The ice could be heard moving and appeared as an endless line of gnashing teeth waiting to wreck the two ships. Cook turns back west towards the Asian continent, looking for a northeast passage instead. But he runs into the same ice wall.

Cook does what he can to chart the northern coasts of North America and Asia. The crew survive on walrus steak, excellent fish, and berries picked from ashore, all washed down with Cook's own spruce "beer." They now pass south, back through the Bering Strait and by October are in Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. They are now 12,000 miles from home and had been at sea for two years.

Onward Home

The two ships were once again badly in need of major repairs. A good base was needed where the ships could be refitted and the crew refreshed. His loose orders were for him to make for Petropavlovsk on the east coast of Russia and at the end of the Aleutian Islands. This meant the ships would spend another winter in the Arctic, and one could only guess if they would ever see England again after that.

So Cook looked over his charts in search of something better. With a number of his crew suffering from tuberculosis, he decided instead to make for those pleasurable Sandwich Islands where Kauai and Niihau he had visited on their way north. They offered refreshment, pleasurable natives, and sunshine, which they all badly needed.

"I had other reasons for not going to Petropaulowska," wrote Cook. "The first ... was the great dislike I had to lying idle six or seven months which would be the consequence of wintering in any of these northern parts. No place was so conveniently within our reach, where we could expect to have our wants supplied, as the Sandwich Islands." He also held the opinion that these were an important discovery, and he could make better use of the winter by exploring and charting them further.

In hindsight, it is a shame that he did not have a better look at Vancouver Island. Or find the Strait of Juan de Fuca and sail into some lovely bay to refit in the Puget Sound of present day Washington State.

The Hawaiian Islands

Even today the Hawaiian Islands provide not much in the way of good harbor for ships the size of the Resolution and Discovery . After sailing down from the Arctic, Cook sailed for many days from Maui to Hawaii, to Oahu, Molokai, and back against the wind to the big island which he called Owhyee. He found no good harbor. The two ships were kept out at sea for 8 weeks, trading for fruit by means of canoes.

At last, on the western side of the big island, he noted a shallow bay. Two miles wide and a mile deep it was wide open to the southwest storms, but otherwise easy to sail into and simple to leave.

As soon as they made anchor canoes came out by the hundreds. It seems most of the islands population came out, thousands of them. The sight of so many smiling faces with the volcanic Mauna Loa in the background almost made the weary sailors glad they had not found a Northwest Passage across the top of the world and back to England.

It was January 17, 1779. The Hawaiians said their bay was called Kealakakua. All these islands from Kauai to Hawaii were new discoveries. Hogs, greens, coconuts, and fruits were abundandt and fairly traded with the English explorers or brought out as gifts. Sails were patched and rigging was refitted. An observatory was set up ashore.

The supreme chief of the island, Kalaniopu'u was rowed around the ships in ceremony and visited aboard. Cook was presented with magnificent red-feather cloaks and expensive helmets. Now ashore the natives praised Cook wherever he went. He gathered he had been named "Orono," and thought of this as a prestiegeous Hawaiian title. Senior priests went with him wherever he visited.

Exactly what was an Orono ? Or who was the Orono? "Some of these ceremonies," said Lieutenant King, "seem to border on adoration." The Orono was in fact Lono the god, a cheerful earthly Hawaiian of long ago who had been exiled and who was prophecized to return in a large island, with trees, bringing gifts including swine and dogs. Well here were the "islands" (ships) complete with "trees" (masts). Here too was a tall, comanding but friendly reincarnation of Lono in the form of Captain Cook.

The very day before his arrival off of Mauai, chief Kalaniopu'u had been victorious in a battle there, obviously because the great Lono was coming to celebrate his victory. Honaunau, on Kealakua Bay, is a much revered place in old Hawaii. Time and setting were right for the return of a god. The sailors and their "islands" were no ordinary men. The astonished Hawaiians noted them carrying fires burning in their mouths (pipes), when they needed anything they reached into their skins (jackets) and pulled them out, some had heads horned like the moon (officer's felt hats), they could take off the tops of their heads (wigs), and whipe their faces with a cloth of impossible softness (linen handkerchiefs). Where could they have come from but the home of the gods?

Perhaps. The sailors also had some distasteful traits and they consumed an aweful lot of food. The priests and chiefs had to constantly take from the locals to supply these sailors. In time this could become irritating. But the ammount of food and gifts brought to the ships was none of Cook's asking. He had no idea it was forecefully taken from the people by the priests for the god Lono's happiness.

The priests, chiefs, and everyone else were happy when at last the Resolution and Discovery took up their anchors and left those shores. Lono spread his white banners high on his trees and moved out of the bay. It had been a wonderful visit but the island was now significantly depleted of resources.

Cook was happy with his visit to Kealakekua and writing in his journal, delighted "to enrich our voyage with a discovery which, though the last, seemed in many respects to be the most important that had hitherto been made by Europeans throughout the extent of the Pacific Ocean."

It was now kona season, the time of storms. And the Resolution had not sailed far before her topmast began to roll more than it should. Serious damage was quickly done to the rigging. Cook looked upward from the deck and could see the fore lower mast was split again, the tenth time of the voyage. The topmast had been repaired with splints but closer inspection showed damage enough that it could not be repaired at sea.

The ship must be repaired again. But where? They were now down to six sails from the usual twelve. Cook was against returning to Kealakekua, but there was no other known place for anchorage in the Hawaiian Islands.

Back Again in Kealakekua Bay

The sailors received no warm welcome this time. The islanders were in no place to supply more sustinance for the two ships, much less themselves. Lono's first visit had been a tremendous strain. Cook wasted no time floating the mast ashore for repair. How long would he and his 200 followers stay? The priests offered welcome, the citizens threw stones.

Cook tried his best to explain why they were there and how they intened to leave quickly. The people seemed to understand, but there were "incidents." Thieving became bold and serious. Some retaliation was made.

There was increased awareness that whoever Lono Cook might be, these seamen were no gods. When a seaman named William Watman died, he was buried ashore. The natives watched with some shock and now saw that these men were mortal, they could die.

Thieving grew worse. The natives began diving under the two ships and prying out nails from their outer sheathing. This was intollerable. It was difficult to defend the ships when so many of the men were ashore repairing the mast. Cook refused to use the ship's superior firepower against the locals.

One night a large boat, the Discovery 's cutter, was stolen. The cutter was vital and could not be replaced. Cook had a regular drill for such instances, take a local high chief hostage until the item was returned. Armed boats were sent to prevent canoes from leaving the bay until the cutter was returned.

In full uniform Cook rowed ashore, carrying his double barrel shotgun along with an armed guard of nine marines under Lieutenant Phillips. King Kalaniopu'u was ashore and told of the theft, agreed to come as a hostage. He began to walk with Cook very calmly towards the beach.

They were within 25 yards of the boats when a large crowd began to form. A woman stood between the beach and the king, she was his favorite wife. With tears she begged him not to go any farther. Several local chiefs joined the crowd which was now growing closer. Lieutenant Phillips noted some of the crowd gathering stones. Others darted into houses, returning with spears and clubs and fastening breast plates.

Two young chiefs pushed the king down to a sitting position such that he could not walk any further. The marines drew up in line along the beach, at the ready.

The crowd grew angry. Cook left the king, telling Phillips that he and the marines must go back to prevent serious bloodshed. A warrior rushed up to Captain Cook with a stone in one hand and a dagger in the other.

"Put those things down!" ordered the captain. The warrior made ready to fling the stone. Cook fired at once. One barrel of his shotgun was loaded with small shot, which he used. The pellets bounced off of the warrior's breastplate. He laughed and came at Cook with his dagger. This time Cook fired his other barrel, loaded with ball. The warrior dropped to the ground.

A general attack with stones began at once. The marines fired, but the warriors had only noticed the captains first shot and believed the muskets to be nothing more than a brief flash and flame. Warriors were killed but there were too many to resist. The marines were rushed before they could reload and four of them were struck down. Now the seamen came in the boats, opening fire.

For a moment Cook stood there, facing the crowd of blood thirsty Hawaiians. He did not reload. He turned to the boats, raising a hand to command a cease-fire. He had reached the water's edge but his commands could not be heard.

A warrior rushed him from behind, clubbing him violently. He sank to his knees, half in the water. The warrior stabbed again and again. A roar erupted from the crowd and men rushed into the sea, stabbing, clubbing, and holding James Cook under water. Once he raised his head and looked at them. They dragged his body ashore and all began stabbing him in a frenzy. Seizing the dagger from each other's hands as if each one must assure they had a part in the act.

This all took only seconds. The unpremeditated, gastly, unnecessary murder was done. Now no one could stop the sailors and surviving marines. Warriors now saw their breast plates were not armor as many were mowed down by musket fire. The beach cleared at once.

The boats pulled back with their incredible news. When it was told, a great silence filled the ships and a great sorrow filled Kealakekua Bay. It was February 14, 1779, and Captain James Cook R.N., aged 50, had met his end on that Hawaiian beach.

Some of the Hawaiians later took his body back to their village and prepared it with funerary rituals usually reserved for the chiefs and highest elders of their society. He was buried by his crew at Kealakekua Bay. Today, above the bluff, a town has been settled and aptly named: Captain Cook, Hawaii.

Continuing without James Cook

The crew finishes the repairs to the Resolution in harbor. The locals are now not allowed anywhere near the beach or the ships. Lieutenant Clerke takes over as acting captain of the Resolution and the voyage as a whole, but he is slowly dying of tuberculosis.

Lieutenant James King is promoted First Lieutenant of the Discovery and takes the task of completing the narrative portion of Cook's journals. It is here that King devotes two full pages describing surfboard riding as practiced by the locals in Kealakekua Bay. Thus in 1779, Lieutenant James King records in the ship's logs the first written description of Hawaiian surfing by a European.

The repairs are made quickly and the expedition heads for the Arctic for one last shot at finding a Northwest Passage. There is no use. The ice fields of 1779 were larger and farther south than they had been the previous year.

The ships continued to deteriorate. One day some wood floated by, it was part of the Resolution 's own sheathing. The Discovery suffered minor hull damage from ice, but nothing that could not be repaired. Captain Clerke succumbs to his tuberculosis and dies at the age of 38. Lieutenant Gore takes command of the Resolution with Lieutenant King commanding the Discovery .

They were now offshore of Petropavlovsk, Russia. It is now October of 1799 and the two ships decide the expedition’s goals are completed, and begin their trek back home to England. Gore sends a letter overland containing copies of Cook's reports along with his own account of Cook's death. The letters were carried by dog sleds across Siberia, then by horse and finally by coastal shipping across the North Sea to England.

Six months later the letters arrived in London, bringing dismay to the whole nation. Another six months after that, in early October of 1780, the expedition returned at last to England after a voyage of 4 years and 3 months.

Gore made a careful journey back, as they heard tales of one American naval commander named John Paul Jones. He sailed around the west coast of Ireland and down the North Sea before entering the Thames. Now in port, the Resolution would be refitted as an armed transport, sent to the East Indies, and would later disappear from the records.

Mrs. Cook was awarded £200 per year plus £25 a year for each of their three children. She was also awarded half of the profits from books on her husband's voyages. She retired to Clapham, London. She lived there into the steam age and passed in 1835 at the age of 93, surviving her husband by 56 years.

Sir Walter Besant (1836-1901) wrote an account of Mrs. Cook in a biography of her husband. Like many ship captain's wives, she could not sleep on nights of high winds, thinking of her husband out at sea. She read from her husband's Bible daily. On Thursdays she entertained her friends with dinner at her home.

Sadly, she destroyed all private letrers from her husband, as she thought they should remain only between the two. Mrs. Cook is buried in Cambridge at St. Andrews Church. She left money to erect a memorial to her husband in the church.

In 1878 a Memorial to Cook was erected at his place of death in Hawaii. Today the Hawaiian flag has the Union Jack (Flag of England) as the principle emblem. A statue of Cook has also been erected at the site of his landing in Waimea, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

The Effects of Cook's Voyages

To the average Englishman, the discoveries and explorations of James Cook were so remote that they almost belonged to another world. Before these discoveries, even Americans knew nothing of the west coast of the continent to which there new country was established.

Three volumes of Cook's voyages are published. They accurately describe with latitude and longitude the locations and coastlines of Australia, New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands, the west coast of North America as well as the north coast of Alaska, the east and north coasts of Asia, and countless islands in the South Pacific.

We know very little about James Cook the man. He was of Scottish and Yorkshire ancestry. He was raised to work hard, on a Yorkshire farm. He served for years on Whitby colliers. His hard upbringing surely contributed to his qualities of leadership and competence. His seamen and officers knew him well and many came back with him voyage after voyage, some to their death.

Apart from his character, James Cook can be described as a loyal Englishman who became one of Western Civilization's great contributors. The best description of him is left on the map of the globe. The names of his brave ships stand in the history books: Endeavour, Resolution, Discovery, and the Adventure. During his life, he had explored farther north (70°44′ N) and farther south (71°10′ S) in the Pacific Ocean than any previous human being. The farmer's son from Yorkshire who became Captain R.N. and gold medalist of the Royal Society can easily be seen as one of the greatest explorers the world has ever known.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

Other Classic History articles on the voyages of Captain James Cook include:    Captain James Cook - His First Voyage    Captain James Cook - His Second Voyage

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Dona Nobis Pacem

Western Civilization prior to World War I

The Ever Increasing Size of the Known Universe

Romantic - The History of a Word

73 - 209 - Thanks for the detailed story of the Battle of Lepanto… as a dedicated lover-of-Venice, I have seen the paintings in the Doges Palace and knew of its significance. Here are the details. As noted, this ranks w/the defense of Vienna in 1683(?); check,as well, the legendary defense of Malta sometime in the late 1400’s; as deep as it gets.

71 - 187 - Thank you so much for this.

71 - 189 - You're welcome. Thank you for reading.

71 - 204 - Too kind :) Thanks for reading Karen.

71 - 203 - Wonderful precise information, Thanks so much !

71 - 217 - Thanks for sharing inspiring rare history on Druids. Even I'm Indonesian..don't know why I like to.learn on old European belief systems such as paganism & druids :)

69 - 177 - Sorry, but I do wish people who write articles mentioning astrology would go to the trouble of actually learning about astrology. The zodiac has nothing whatsoever to do with constellations, apart from the Greeks giving names to the signs from some of the constellations at that time. The zodiac was designed by ancient Babylonians, based on their calendar of 12 (and occasionally 13) lunar months, with 12 equal signs fixed to the March equinox. It has always been about the signs. The Western Tropical Zodiac will always begin with 0 degrees Aries on the March equinox and the stars have no relevance to this at all. The precession of the equinoxes and the alleged astrological ages are a minor oddity which astrologers generally have very little interest in.

69 - 186 - If the stars have no relevance to astrology, what relevance do the planets have? Are the positions of the planets determined in relation to the “signs” as given by astrology, or are their positions determined in relation to their apparent positions relative to the ecliptic and the stars visible in that celestial band.? If we’re to disregard the apparent positions of the stars, why bother to observe the positions of the planets, either?

69 - 199 - This article is about precession, which is obviously tangential to astrology, but the article never mentions the word. I'm not sure what you're going on about. The subject matter, especially in reference to constellations, is absolutely appropriate, as the ancients clearly were concerned about the positions of stars and planets, to think otherwise is absurd. The Egyptians understood the ages beginning and ending with certain star positions, whoever built the lion sphinx statue aimed it at Leo (the Lion CONSTELLATION), which tells us that it was likely built during that zodiacal age. I'm not sure how you can disregard the obvious tie-ins to key moments in history with what's marked out in the sky via constellations.

69 - 218 - Very understandable article , just what I was looking for as I have no background in astronomy. Thanks for your efforts.

67 - 220 - Search and end the answer

67 - 221 - Search and end the answer

66 - 176 - Truly David Livingstone was a greatest missionary and explorer in Africa no one else other than him from Europe has left such a record. He will always be remembered for his great work in Africa.

64 - 128 - Wonderful story. Excellent history. Great Christmas Song too! Especially Luke 6:38

64 - 130 - I enjoyed playing piano recitals of Good King Wenceslas as a child - for the old folks in the nursing homes in our town. Thank you for the history on this beloved King.

64 - 135 - Thank you Teresa for your kindness to the elderly. Nursing homes are filled with lonely souls who sincerely appreciate such acts of generosity.

64 - 210 - I’ve played this for years! even posted a recording on YouTube under “Safe Sax Trio” from December 2020. it has a special connotation as Mi amor,Blanka, is Czech, born and grew up in Prague,Bohemia…St.Wenceslas being the patron Saint of the Czech People.????

61 - 95 - h

60 - 125 - "The Indo-Europeans were a people group originating in the plains of Eastern Europe, north of the Baltic and Caspian Seas in present day Ukraine and southern Russia." Surely you meant the Black sea and not the Baltic....

60 - 126 - Ha, yes I meant the Black Sea. Thanks Pgolay.

56 - 83 - Wild temperature swings throughout the years!

56 - 84 - Indeed! All the more reason to be thankful for the forests we are enjoying today.

55 - 137 - Interesting article! I'm curious, what were the sources about Hippocrates and his communications with Athens and Persia in regard to the plague?

55 - 138 - Thank you! Hippocrates' own writings on this subject have been translated into English. Wesley D. Smith has some good modern English translations: Artaxerxes sends a letter to Hippocrates begging for help: "the renown of whose techne has reached even to me, as much gold as he wants, and anything else that he lacks in abundance, and send him to me" Hippocrates replies: "Tell the King I have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter, and all the necessities that I require for life, and that I have no wish for Persian wealth or to save foreigners from disease, since they are enemies of the Greeks."

55 - 145 - I really like Athens because it is truly a unique place with a rich history and unique distinctive features. Of course, there are a great deal of reasons to fall in love with this city because it’s a true calling card of Greece. After reading your article, I became more convinced that it is an incredible city in which ancient traditions and modernity harmoniously intertwine with each other into a single whole. It is so cool that you mentioned the Temple of Poseidon because I think that it’s such a wonderful way to delve into the history of Athens and feel the atmosphere of ancient times. I think that Athens is the best city in Greece for wine connoisseurs because it seems to me that you can try delicious and rare Greek wines there, getting unforgettable impressions. Art and culture in Athens are so incredible and multifaceted that it can’t leave you indifferent. It is an indisputable fact that the halls of the Museum of Cycladic Art are impressive in their scope and they have very interesting interactive expositions. It is so cool that there are so many incredible things and I think you will always find something to look at.

43 - 14 - Interesting article. An enjoyable read. Thanks

43 - 15 - Glad you enjoyed it!

40 - 149 - I was wondering where that cross at the top of the page is located? It is quite impressive and I stare at it a great deal! If you can help me I would greatly appreciate it! God bless you!!!

40 - 152 - William, The peak is Punta Selassa in the province of Cuneo, Italy. You can hike to the cross starting from the village of Calcinere on the Po River in the valley below. God bless you too!

39 - 81 - IS IT Possible to buy a hybrid checknut IMMUNE TO THE BLIGHT?

39 - 116 - very good information,we have many of these trees in our neighborhood. they were originally planted in the 1930's when the area was a berry farm and orchard. they have now spread over about a 50 acre residential area growing in just about any vacant space and producing huge amounts of nuts. Gig harbor washington.

39 - 180 - god, I had never heard of this. what a tragic story. Those forests must have been a true sight to see.

39 - 181 - I appreciate that you mentioned that chestnut trees are included in our holiday experience. My aunt mentioned last night that she and my mother planned to have information about hybrid chestnut trees for the farm project development they want. She asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. I love this helpful article, I'll tell her she can consult a trusted hybrid chestnut trees service in town as they can provide information about their trees.

39 - 184 - This is incredibly sad. We have lost so much….thank you…anyone who has protected this wonderful, God given tree.

38 - 65 - Wow! That was quite an ordeal.

38 - 124 - Amazing story! Growing up in the Antelope Valley (Edwards AFB's location), we heard of a great number of accidents as really smart and competent test pilots pushed the limits of technology. My dad knew one "sled driver" who flew sailplanes as a hobby!

37 - 61 - The Frost Fair sounds like fun.

37 - 62 - Interesting article. This is the first I've heard of " Frost Fair ".

37 - 63 - I imagine it would be a lot of fun. Spontaneous community events like this always have a unique feeling to them.

37 - 64 - It was definitely a special phenomenon in the history of England.

36 - 11 - Very informative article. I love watching the lady play the organ at church and have always wondered what's under the hood.

36 - 12 - A very interesting and informative article. I have often wondered what the stops were for. The history and description of operation answered many questions.Thankyou.

36 - 13 - Glad it could help Kim. There is certainly quite a bit going on inside of these beautiful machines.

36 - 79 - Very well thought out article. I ran a small organ shop for 40 years that built some major organs around the world - one in Toyota-shi Concert Hall with about 4000 pipes. I am now retired, but want to write a book to pass my thoughts on to future generations of organ builders. Could I borrow some of the historical information you put together as you have said so much with less words and really good. Thanks!

36 - 80 - Thanks for your kind words John. Yes please use whatever you feel would be useful, just reference this website as a source. The goal of this website is to simply pass on our history to future generations. So if I can help with your book at all please reach out to me. Use any of the images or references in this article if you think they would be useful.

36 - 87 - A most helpful article which has answered many questions The organ is fascinating and invaluable. It hasn’t yet replaced orchestras

36 - 88 - A very interesting article, but who squeezed the bellows? Was it done by boys and how many and would they have been building up the air pressure for a time before the organ was to be played?

36 - 89 - In all my research I found that a volunteer from the church would power the smaller organs. For larger organs someone was paid to pump the bellows. These larger ones would have 3 or more bellows.

36 - 96 - Liked it! Very useful

36 - 140 - The article mentions that Roman and Byzantine organs were made of bronze (copper + tin) pipes, but there's nothing mentioned about modern organs. Are they made of brass (copper + zinc)?

36 - 188 - Thanks for this great article

35 - 58 - Such an incredible voyage.

35 - 59 - you should write an article about cook's third voyage

35 - 60 - Its in the works, check back here in a few months. Glad you enjoyed this one.

34 - 54 - This article is a nice little gift for the upcoming Christmas season.

34 - 55 - The song touches my life day by day and I needed musical copy of the same (notation). Thanx

34 - 56 - thanks NOEL! I pick a theme for Christmas each year and this is it for 2019. Christmas is everyday - as Jesus is with us everyday, renewing us with his love! Noel! Maria

34 - 57 - Great choice! True that Jesus is with us every day, not only around Christmas. Merry Christmas Maria

33 - 52 - Nice article!!!

33 - 53 - Thank you! It was a lot of work but I think it turned out not half bad.

31 - 46 - This makes me curious as to why Christianty succeeded spreading predominately westward from its Roman epicenter, yet failed doing the same eastward. Any ideas?

31 - 47 - How does the basilica and its parts like the nav relate to the Christian ceremony?

31 - 48 - Hi! I'm an architecture student and I would like to know what are other examples of Early Christian Churches and also their parts (name of the rooms, space, etc.); I just wanted them as references for my future subjects :D Thanks a lot

31 - 49 - I would have to do some more research on the later years of Christianity, but I would say that Christianity did spread eastward. This was likely halted by the pushback of Islam in the seventh century. Egypt was as much of a Christian stronghold as Rome until the Muslim conquest in the seventh century.

31 - 50 - The Nave is a space specifically reserved for procession of the choir or acolytes from the entrance towards the front of the church. Church goers sit in pews on the outer sides of the nave. Next is the Transept, which is where a priest or minister gives the sermon. Above that and at the front of the sanctuary is the choir loft.

31 - 51 - I spent quite a bit of time researching the churches in this article and these were the oldest ones I could find. If I find more I will certainly add them to the article. See the comment above for a list of the separate rooms of a church. Thanks for reading and good luck to you in architecture school!

31 - 75 - Are there any other examples of early Christians of this time period translating roman civic buildings into their new society?

31 - 76 - Ben, the churches listed in this article are the earliest ones that I could find that were constructed originally for the specific purpose of housing Christian worship services. Other churches exist from this time period that were simply converted from the worship of Roman gods. The Temple d'Auguste et de Livie in France is one such example. So old Roman temples were converted to churches but there is very little evidence that Roman civic buildings were converted to churches.

31 - 90 - Hello, thank you for an intresting article. Would you recommend any online resources or books one could use to explore Christian Architecture space? I will appreciate your feedback.

31 - 91 - Monuments of the Early Church by Walter Lowrie was my main source for this article. You can read it here . Other than this book, there are very few sources available for architecture of the early church, so I had to look at individual churches and compare them to established architectural norms from the rest of society at the time. There are plenty of resources available for church architecture after 1000 AD, such as Britannica.

31 - 97 - hi,this is malar.thank you for your wonderful and helpfull article. i need an article about egptian civilization like this. did you have any idea about preparing it?

31 - 98 - Glad you enjoyed it Malar. I have not thought of looking into Egyptian architecture. But it would certainly be interesting to see if the architecture made some kind of progression as the centuries went on. I may look into that in the future, thanks for your suggestion!

31 - 101 - Hi, i enjoyed reading your post. I wanted to know in what period does Paleo-Christian architecture took place?

31 - 103 - Thanks! Paleo-Christian describes the time period before the Byzantine Era. This could be before the dedication of Constantinople in 330, or before the Age of Justinian in the 6th century.

31 - 105 - A roof is arguably the most important aspect of every house - it protects your property and those living in it. As time goes by, the structure or appearance of the roof may be damaged, and need repairs or maintenance. Contact our roofing experts today for a free, no-obligation appointment and estimate.

31 - 117 - Hi, thank you for all the historic information here. Please can you throw more light on how the church started under the trees and haw they transcended to church buildings. Thanks.

31 - 200 - One of the most iconic features of early Christian architecture is the basilica plan, characterized by a rectangular nave, side aisles, and an apse.

30 - 112 - Thank you for the story of 3 amazing musicians

30 - 113 - Thanks for reading David!

30 - 133 - beautiful story! i love her work and im so happy her storys getting told more and more

30 - 178 - I was watching the movie song of Love and I wanted to find out some different questions and this website popped up and I was mesmerized. I love this! Thank you for sharing this

30 - 179 - Thank you for reading! I have never seen that movie, thanks for recommending it.

30 - 190 - Wonderful story, on May 7th I am going to Toronto for the concert in memory of Brahms(it his birthday),very excited !

30 - 191 - That sounds amazing! I hope you enjoy the concert, thanks for reading.

30 - 212 - i first learnt it from my piano teacher,but i love this story,so i decided to search it up.Your web was the first to pop up, so i clicked in and discovered a lot more deeper in their relationship.Overall,i love your informational text!

30 - 213 - i first learnt it from my piano teacher,but i love this story,so i decided to search it up.Your web was the first to pop up, so i clicked in and discovered a lot more deeper in their relationship.Overall,i love your informational text!

30 - 219 - Thank you Sara! I'm happy you enjoyed it.

29 - 44 - What a beautifully written and illustrated article.

29 - 45 - Thanks Paul. Its a lot of fun to put yourself in the shoes of people in the past, and try to see the Universe from their perspective.

29 - 104 - I enjoyed your paper very much. Thank you for writing it.

29 - 201 - Thanks for the wrintings please provide more coz i loved these ones.

28 - 42 - Makes one wonder: without horrific barbarism, would have global civilization expansion been delayed?

28 - 43 - The threat of unexpected attacks probably did motivate people to work together a little more for the purpose of defense. I would say that adversity of any kind betters individuals as well as civilization as a whole.

27 - 40 - Wowzers! I can't wait till the next solar eclipse!!!

27 - 41 - I loved your blog article. Really Cool. dkekkcedkdca

26 - 37 - This website really helped me when doing an assignment on James Cook! Thanks so much for the great information on here

26 - 38 - write an article about his third voyage as well

26 - 39 - Glad it could help Ben! I have an article about Cook's third voyage in the works so check back here in the future. Thanks for reading!

25 - 36 - Thank you Janet! I try to make these articles as short and concise as possible but most of the time they end up being so long because there's just so much to say. Glad to hear I accomplished those goals on this article and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

25 - 35 - Enjoyed your history of personal wealth. Quick, easy to read and understand and interesting! Looking forward to reading the other articles. Thank you for sharing Janet ( In California )

25 - 169 - Very nice… I really like your blog as well as website. Very useful information and worth reading. Thanks.

24 - 71 - Thank you for your summation of the Christmas Truce. I was searching for the hymn, "Dona Nobis", when I came across your article. Now I can share both historical items with my nine-year-old granddaughter who is very interested in what our soldiers have endured and done for us.

24 - 72 - Thank you for reading Susan. I'm happy to hear that younger people are interested in our ancestor's sacrifice for us. Its wonderful that you're taking the time to talk to her about these kinds of things, they are not easy to hear or completely understand. When she is older you could share another article I have regarding The Great War titled Western Civilization prior to World War I .

24 - 93 - I heard about this truce many years ago and just had to try and find the background. I have thought of this for many many years and it pulls at my heart strings every time I hear Silent Night. Nit being directly connected to Military I wonder, “do this truce still happen each year on Christmas Eve?” I sure hope it do. War is such a terrible thing. My wish is for everyone lot live in peace. What a wonderful world it would be.

24 - 214 - very cool article.

24 - 215 - Hi, why this passage

23 - 25 - Years ago we sang with a quire the song Dona Nobis. During that song I had to sing English text. The words were if I rember well If I had word... Do you happen to know where I can find this version of Dona Nobis. Gr, Frans Pennings Cuijk. Holland.

23 - 26 - If this is in reference to the Mozart traditional Dona Nobis Pacem that is commonly featured many times on U Tube etc, The one with 5 verses each of different melody. why can it not be found as a recording, cd or whatever for sale, anywhere. Do you know a source? John P. Thank you.

23 - 27 - lovely

23 - 28 - I live in a retirement village and am aged 80. Eight of us, with the aid of one who was a music teacher, are trying to learn Dona Nobis Pacem to sing at our village's annual variety concert - without an accompanist! Please wish us luck! :)

23 - 29 - 1. Snobbish attitude towards "folk Music) 2. Peace is welcomed all the year round, not only at Christmastime.

23 - 30 - Frans, If you are wanting to download the version on this page you should try this link below. They have three versions of the song there. If you are looking for a version of the text in another language please let me know and I will make a page with the text in that language for you.

23 - 31 - More like a distain for what is called "academic." I agree but the point still stands that it is sung more often around Christmastime.

23 - 32 - Good luck Margaret. Our Men's choir in Sydney sang another (non-Mozart) version of Pacem. Halfway through, we froze, and only slowly found our peace.

23 - 33 - Thank you, John. Hope we don't freeze, but then it's warmer up here in Brisbane. :)

23 - 34 - Good luck to you Margaret! Post a link to your performance if at all possible. This is a beautiful song and every rendition is unique.

23 - 92 - no

23 - 121 - I must say I'm really impressed by the nice write-up you have here. You actually did a great job, unlike most bloggers I've seen on the internet talking about this same topic. Just reading the first few paragraphs, I was already locked in the content. Bravo and keep up the good work. If you have the time, I would appreciate it if you could help me rate my blog .

23 - 127 - Thank you for providing this service! My husband and I are doing a concert at a retirement home tomorrow (voice and Ukrainian bandura) with a mixture of Ukrainian and other music,and I couldn't locate the sheet music to check what to say about this song's origins in the introduction. I typed Dona Nobis Pacem into Google, and boom, there was your article with exactly what I needed! 16th-17th century unknown German composer.

23 - 134 - Bach's "Dona Nobis Pacem" in his great B minor mass is as beautiful as music or man can get.

22 - 119 - not good

21 - 22 - Abd al Rahman needed just a little more patience. Islam would take over Europe. Sadly,the pride, heritage and national boundaries of these countries are disappearing.

21 - 23 - Damn i love history i hope i dont die soon so i can see the advancement of modern society.

21 - 24 - That does appear to be the case at the moment. But it is anyone's guess what the next era in history will be like.

21 - 82 - This is a great summary of the Battle of Tours. It amazes me that this great battle is not more known to western society. As you say in the final para "a major turning point in western civilisation" yet very few know it.

21 - 86 - Thanks Peter. I wish we were taught more history in general but especially events like this one. We all have an amazing story.

21 - 85 - If you do then make sure to write your experiences down somehow. People in the future will be very interested in your perspective.

21 - 114 - Tg

21 - 171 - Thanks, I love history and believe that it is important for us all to understand our past so that we can learn from our mistakes. This article gave me heaps of info. Thanks for being willing to take the time to help others learn about our past. It truly is amazing - Anonymous

19 - 18 - Thanks for an astute summary. I am currently reading Barbara Tuchman's book on this period "The Proud Tower". What an amazing era. Such hubris. Such arrogance. Unfortunately, as always those taking the risks and making idiot decisions did not pay the bill. In fact they became more wealthy out of the war. What do you thing the next period in world history will bring? At least today there is no irrational optimism about the future as at the end of the nineteenth century. Maybe that is a start?

19 - 19 - Very interesting and insightful. Perhaps an article on the Lost Generation would be a good companion piece. I believe WW2 broke out in 1939, not 1940 (unless one counts the Asian-Pacific theater in which hostilities began in 1937).

19 - 20 - The end of any era in history severely challenges a culture's values. If you were to question national pride or absolute duty to your country prior to WWI you would likely have been executed. This shows just how entrenched cultural values can be. That being said, any prediction of what the next era in our history will be would be offensive to just about anyone who read it. I will guess that a civil war in England will be the event at which historians in the future will determine as the marker for the end of the Modern Era. I tend to wish there was more irrational optimism about the future in our time. WWI was a tremendous event matched only by the 30 years war or the Plague in its destructiveness. Maybe quite a bit of our cultural energy was destroyed as a result of the Great War. Thank you for the book recommendation, I'll definitely give it a look.

19 - 21 - Thanks for the suggestion! I will add that to my list of future articles. The great thing about writing these is that in doing the research you find so many ideas for new articles. Fixed the date too, thank you RT.

19 - 136 - Hitler was not good!

19 - 173 - What is a troy a reference to?

18 - 17 - This explanation is an oft-repeated myth. The bedrock is deeper below the surface in the areas below Canal Street than it is in region from the Flatiron district up to 42nd between. See

18 - 198 - Engaging read! This post brilliantly unpacks the geological foundations of NYC, underpinning its architectural prowess. It's the unseen hero of the city's skyline.

17 - 70 - A very interesting piece of history.

17 - 73 - Glad you enjoyed it!

17 - 74 - Love reading history raise of christianity.

17 - 99 - wow! so interesting. helped so much!

17 - 100 - is this site credible?

17 - 102 - It is as credible as the available source material. I list all references on each article. If you have a different perspective please feel free to email me or leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

17 - 107 - Thanks for this information. This helped me a lot! :D

17 - 108 - Thanks for this information. This helped me a lot! :D

17 - 111 - HI

17 - 115 - Very interesting information. How the living religion, Christianity has spread around the world like this miracle is an open proof that JESUS is living and He changes lives and a help in times of helplessness.

17 - 118 - Constantine was a jerk

17 - 120 - thanks

17 - 139 - Very nice article I am a student and this helped me learn a lot in the 6th grade!

17 - 144 - Very Good!

17 - 142 - Very interesting about his conversion to Christianity

17 - 143 - learning heaps

17 - 146 - Interesting

17 - 147 - Constantine is a very interesting bloke. Thanks to all the chaps at Classic History!

17 - 148 - thanks

17 - 156 - This is a great resource of knowledge for my kindergarteners!!!

17 - 158 - Thanks Ian! I'm happy it has helped!

17 - 159 - I love this cite! very credible 10/10 great resource for some fun reading!

17 - 175 - love it !!!

17 - 185 - i dont like this cause it didnt talk about MLK

17 - 206 - ????????????

17 - 205 - stupid

17 - 202 - You are so fake. There is no god. Shut up, just, shut up!

17 - 207 - Very good

17 - 211 - All thanks to Jesus,for his mercy

17 - 216 - this app is so amazing it js makes me want to slap eian

16 - 16 - Meine Mutter war eine geborene Bach.Besteht Event.eine Verbindung zu Johann Sebastian?Ich wurde es unbedingt wissen wollen .Irgend wo ist mir das ubermittelt worden.Bitte helfen Sie mir.Danke im Voraus-

16 - 222 - poah rein in die futterluke

15 - 182 - I'd like to use the above graphic as a sidebar to an upcoming equinox post at EarthSky. My article informs the reader of the intriguing fact that the tip of a shadow stick (gnomon) follows a straight (west-to-east) path on the day of an equinox. If given permission, I plan to credit the graphic to Classic History and to provide a link to this Eratosthenes page. Thank you for your consideration!

15 - 183 - Bruce, Yes please feel free to use anything you want so long as you reference this website as a source. Here is a slightly larger resolution image. Thanks for reading!

13 - 166 - Please include date of publication as I am trying to cite this article for school

12 - 10 - I was intrigued by Origin of Romanticism, how it changed its meaning over in a short span of time. From its lovers escapade into beautiful spots of nature to non- tangent expression of emotion and dramatism. thank you very much for this insight. grateful - sheera Betnag

12 - 69 - And wonder how it might change in the future as well. Glad you enjoyed the article and thank you for reading Sheera.

12 - 150 - This post was truly worthwhile to read. I wanted to say thank you for the key points you have pointed out as they are enlightening.

12 - 208 - As a Chinese, I've got the origin of romance! Thank u a lot.

9 - 0 - test'

5 - 151 - how should i reference this website?

5 - 153 - You could use Source: Author: Thomas Acreman

4 - 7 - Keep on writing, great job!

4 - 8 - Congratulations. Agrees with the Welsh versions I was taught at school in the 1930s and 40s and what I read and gathered afterwards. I am now interested in finding out how much effect would 350 year of Roman rule have had on the Britons and why was it that the Romano Britons were so complacent and lax to be overtaken by the pagan immigrant settlers from Saxony in c400B.C.

4 - 9 - Thanks so much! I plan to keep on writing for years. My goal is to write at least one article per month.

4 - 78 - Thanks Gordon. I should have read my own title, where it was named Britain.

4 - 77 - "The island nation currently known as England?!" That's funny; I live here, and we call it Great Britain.

4 - 131 - Misspellings: "every forrest and hillside" (forest) "the furry of battle" (fury) "He employed them all to weather their captivity with bravery and courage, and to be strong men and women" (implored? impelled?) "an ivory thrown" (throne)

4 - 132 - Thanks JD. This is one of the first articles I wrote for this website and I really need to rewrite it.

4 - 167 - This story does, at least, acknowledge that the tale of Julius Caesar conquering Britain is not true! JC was ejected more than once. It was Cartimandua who betrayed Caradoc.. in the time of Claudius. BTW… No celts in Britain which was named for Brutus, grandson of Anaeas of Troy. Anaeas also features in the story of the founding of Rome. I.e., the peoples were related. The Cymry were not ‘primitive’!

3 - 1 - I love visiting the cross but, there's one thing that drives me nuts. Vietnam was not a war it was an armed conflict, not one of the 5 presidents that were in office during this time [1945 to 1972] did NOT declare war on the Viet Cong nor on North Vietnam.

3 - 3 - Are small weddings allowed Infront of the cross ?

3 - 4 - What camera was used here?

3 - 2 - Indeed, but the purpose of the cross is to remember those who answered their call to service and how much better the world is for their sacrifice. To that goal I think the cross does a fine job.

3 - 5 - I am not affiliated with Sewanee in any way but yes, I have seen a wedding there. It looked very peaceful and beautiful. There is a link to their website on this page which would be a good place to look for a contact number for the University.

3 - 6 - I believe I just used an old iPhone 4s for both of these photos.

3 - 109 - Why are those who severed in the Civil War not memorialized as well?

3 - 110 - Because the cross was originally built to memorialize those who served and died in World War I. Plaques were only added for those who served in wars after WWI. It was ultimately decided that the cross would only serve as a memorial for those who served and died in wars during the 20th century. From The University of the South: "Sewanee’s Memorial Cross honors the students and alumni of the University of the South and the Sewanee Military Academy and the citizens of Franklin County who fought and those who lost their lives in service to their country in the wars of the last century."

3 - 161 - Can someone in a wheelchair be able to get to the cross fairly easy?

3 - 162 - Yes, parking is available at the cross and the walkway to the cross is only slightly uphill.

2 - 0 - Nice article. The lake actually rarely freezes and only enough to walk on less than once every 10 years and only for a few days. In 2006 it was 29 days but otherwise it is clear and the ferries run year round.

-1 - 66 - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on History. Regards

-1 - 67 - I enjoyed your article on Charles Martel. Thank you for maintaining this beautiful site!

-1 - 68 - Thank you! I enjoyed researching and writing that one too. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

-1 - 193 - Thanks very much for this mentally engaging, attention-grabbing articles. This content is right up mu intellectual alley, and I'll be a regular frequenter.

-100024 - 106 - test comment!! ©

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Voyages of discovery - the Great South Land

  • Gallery of maps
  • The Spanish Quest
  • The Tasman Map
  • The Huijdecoper journal
  • Monsters of the southern world
  • The case for a Great Southern Continent
  • Criticising the Endeavour voyage
  • Against the 'thief colony'
  • Hydrographic Office
  • Dalrymple's Charts
  • Coastal views
  • Voyage round the world
  • James Cook's log
  • Cook's discoveries on the map
  • Joseph Banks' Endeavour Journal
  • James Roberts' journal
  • Endeavour artist Sydney Parkinson
  • New South Wales on the map
  • Discoveries in the Pacific
  • Mapping the route
  • Images of Cook's second expedition
  • Wales & Bayly, astronomers
  • Method for preserving health
  • James Burney journal
  • A Narrative of the death
  • James King journal
  • Cook's mementos
  • Navigational instruments
  • Arithmetic for sailors
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Captain James Cook's voyages of discovery

Captain James Cook

Captain James Cook, ca. 1780-1784 Watercolour on ivory miniature MIN 85

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) was born in Yorkshire. At the age of about 17, Cook joined the merchant navy in the coastal town of Whitby and spent his apprenticeship and early career working on trading ships along the English coast and in the Baltic. After 10 years in the merchant navy, Cook entered the Royal Navy, and showed an aptitude for surveying, mapping and navigation. He honed these skills in military conflicts against France but his talents had been noticed by the Royal Society, which was keen to send British ships to the Pacific for research and exploration purposes.   

Captain James Cook's three epic voyages to the South Seas, between 1768-1779, transformed the way Europeans viewed the Great South Land and the Pacific Ocean.

James Cook's first Pacific voyage (1768-1771) was aboard the Endeavour and began on 27 May 1768. Cook's first goal was to establish an observatory at Tahiti to record the transit of Venus, when that planet passed between the earth and the sun, on 3 June 1769. The second aim of the expedition was to record natural history, led by 25-year-old Joseph Banks. The final secret goal was to continue the search for the Great South Land. 

  > Find out more about James Cook and Joseph Banks and their discovery of New South Wales in Endeavour in 1770

Find out more about Cook, Banks and the Endeavour voyage

The continued search for the legendary Great South Land also motivated Cook's second Pacific voyage (1772-1775). This voyage aimed to establish whether there was an inhabited southern continent in what we now know as Antarctica, as well as making astronomical observations.

  > Find out more about Cook’s second Pacific voyage

Find out more about Captain Cook's second Pacific voyage

Cook's third and final Pacific voyage, (1776-1779), was as important for exploration of the North Pacific as the earlier two had been for the South. The voyage aimed to find a north west passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In the process, Cook made the major discovery of the Hawaiian Islands in January 1778. During the same voyage Cook was killed on a return visit to Hawaii at Kealakekua Bay, on 14 February 1779.

  > Find out about the death of the Captain Cook in Hawaii during his third voyage of exploration

Find out more about the death of Cook

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British navigator and explorer who explored the Pacific Ocean and several islands in this region. He is credited as the first European to discover the Hawaiian Islands.

Name : James Cook [jeymz] [koo k]

Birth/Death : October 27, 1728 - February 14, 1779

Nationality : English

Birthplace : England

captain james cook's three voyages

Captain James Cook

Print of James Cook, famous circumnavigator who explored and mapped the Pacific Ocean. The Mariners' Museum 1938.0345.000001

Introduction Captain James Cook is known for his extensive voyages that took him throughout the Pacific. He mapped several island groups in the Pacific that had been previously discovered by other explorers. But he was the first European we know of to encounter the Hawaiian Islands. While on these voyages, Cook discovered that New Zealand was an island. He would go on to discover and chart coastlines from the Arctic to the Antarctic, east coast of Australia to the west coast of North America plus the hundreds of islands in between.

Biography Early Life James Cook was born on October 27, 1728 in the village Marton-in-Cleveland in Yorkshire, England. He was the second son of James Senior and Grace Cook. His father worked as a farm laborer. Young James attended school where he showed a gift for math. 1 But despite having a decent education, James also wound up working as a farm laborer, like his father. At 16, Cook became an apprentice of William Sanderson, a shopkeeper in the small coastal town Staithes. James worked here for almost 2 years before leaving to seek other ventures. He then became a seaman apprentice for John Walker, a shipowner and mariner, in the port of Whitby. Here, Cook developed his navigational skills and continued his studies. Cook worked for Walker’s coal shipping business and worked his way up in rank. He completed his three-year apprenticeship in April 1750, then went on to volunteer for the Royal Navy. He would soon have the opportunity to explore and learn more about seafaring. He was assigned to serve on the HMS Eagle where he was quickly promoted to the position of captain’s mate due to his experience and skills. In 1757, he was transferred to the Pembroke and sent to Nova Scotia, Canada to fight in the Seven Years’ War.

Cook continued to expand his maritime knowledge and skills by learning chart-making. He helped to chart and survey the St. Lawrence River and surrounding areas while in Canada. His charts were published in England while he was abroad. After the war, between 1763 and 1767, Cook commanded the HMS Grenville , and mapped Newfoundland and Labrador’s coastlines. These maps were considered the most detailed and accurate maps of the area in the 18th century. After spending 4 years mapping coastlines in northeast North America, Cook was called back to London by the Royal Society. The Royal Society sent Cook to observe an event known as the transit of Venus. During a transit of Venus, Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun and appears to be a small black circle traveling in front of the Sun. By observing this event, they believed they could calculate the Earth’s distance from the Sun. In May 1768, Cook was chosen by the Society and promoted to lieutenant to lead an expedition to Tahiti, then known as King George’s Island, to observe the transit of Venus. 2 This begin the first of several voyages that would earn James Cook great fame and recognition.

Voyages Principal Voyage James Cook sailed from Deptford, England on July 30, 1768 on his ship Endeavour with a crew of 84 men. 3 The crew included several scientists and artists to record their observations and discoveries during the journey. They made many small stops at different locations along the way. In January 1769, they rounded the tip of South America, and finally reached Tahiti in April 1769. They established a base for their research that they named Fort Venus. On June 3, 1769, Cook and his men successfully observed the transit of Venus. While on the island, they collected samples of the native plants and animals. They also interacted with some native people, learning more about their customs and traditions. Cook sailed to some of the neighboring islands, including modern day Bora Bora, mapping along the way. After completing the observation of Venus’ transit, Cook was given new orders to sail south, search for the Southern Continent – known today as Australia. On August 9, 1769, the Endeavour departed from Tahiti in search of the Southern Continent. After sailing for several weeks with no sign of land, Cook decided to sail west. On October 6th, land was sighted, and Cook and his men made landfall in modern day New Zealand.

Cook named the place Poverty Bay. They were met by unfriendly natives, so Cook decided to sail south along the coast of this new land. He named several islands and bays along the way, such as Bare Island and Cape Turnagain. At Cape Turnagain, the Endeavour turned around and sailed north along the coastline again and rounded the northernmost tip of the island. They sailed down along the western coast Cook and his men crossed a strait to return to Cape Turnagain, thus completing a circumnavigation of the northern island. This trip proved that New Zealand was made up of two separate islands. The expedition then sailed south along the eastern coastline of the southern island. They stopped at Admiralty Bay on the northern coast to resupply before sailing west into open ocean. In April of 1770, Cook first spotted the northeastern coastline of modern day Australia. He landed in Botany Bay near modern day Sydney. 4 He explored some of the area and coastline including places such as Port Jackson and Cape Byron.  The Endeavour then sailed around the northernmost tip of the continent before setting sail east back to England. They soon landed in Batavia, now known as Jakarta, in Indonesia. In Batavia, several of the crew, including James Cook became ill, many dying from diseases. 5 The expedition eventually sailed onward, and reached London on July 13, 1771.

Subsequent Voyages In 1772, Cook was promoted to captain. He was given command of the two ships, the Resolution and Adventure , to look for the Southern Continent. On July 13, 1772, the expedition left England, stopping at the Cape of Good Hope to resupply before sailing south. May 26, 1773, Cook and his crew reached Dusky Bay, New Zealand . They spent the winter anchored in Ship Cove, exploring inland and interacting with the Maori natives. When they departed from New Zealand in October of 1773, the two ships became separated and never reunited. 6 The Adventure returned to England. Cook and the Resolution continued onward exploring various islands throughout the Pacific. While sailing in the Pacific, the Resolution crossed into the Antarctic Circle several times sailing farther south than any other explorer at the time. Several times they got stuck in sea ice. So Cook decided to suspend the search for the Southern Continent. But they did not return to England just yet. They sailed to Easter Island and stayed there for seven months, exploring and mapping the nearby Society Islands and the Friendly Islands. November 10, 1774, the Resolution began its return journey to England.They traveled around the tip of South America and stopped briefly on the Sandwich Islands to claim them for England. Cook finally returned to England on July 30, 1775 and reported that there was no Southern Continent to be found.

Just one year later, Cook was given the Resolution and Discovery to lead yet an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage. The ships left England on July 12, 1776. A storm forced them to stop at Adventure Cove in Tasmania before continuing on to Ship Cove. In December of 1777 the men landed at Christmas Island, now known as Kiritimati. Several weeks later, they made a significant discovery when they came upon the islands of Hawaii. They landed at modern day Kauai and were fascinated by the environment and friendly natives. But Cook still wanted to discover the Northwest Passage so they left two weeks laters. They finally landed at modern day Vancouver Island where they interacted and traded with the native people. Cook continued his search for the Northwest Passage and commanded the expedition to sail northwest along the coastline of what is now Alaska, and throughout Prince William Sound. On August 9th, they reached the westernmost point of Alaska, which Cook named Cape Prince of Wales. From here, Cook sailed farther into the Arctic Circle until he was stopped by a thick wall of ice. Cook named this point Icy Cape. Cook and his men sailed back down the coast of Alaska and back south until they reached the Hawaiian Islands again.

Later Years and Death When first landing in Kealakekua Bay, they were met with angry natives. Cook soon met with the Hawaiian ruler, King Kalei’opu’u. It was a friendly meeting, was given large amounts of food and resources.They left Kealakekua Bay on February 4, 1779 but were forced to return a few days later after the Resolution was damaged in a storm. Once more, they were not greeted with joy by the natives. While the Resolution was being repaired, the crew noticed that the natives were stealing their supplies and tools. On February 14th, Cook attempted to stop the thievery by taking Chief Kalei’opu’u hostage. 7 However, fighting between the crew and native people had already started. When Cook attempted to return to his ship, he was attacked on the shoreline. He was beaten with stones and clubs and stabbed in the back of the neck. Cook died on the shore and his body was left behind as the other men returned to the ship. After making peace with the natives a few days later, pieces of Cook’s body were recovered and buried on February 22, 1779. The next day, the remaining crew left Hawaii to return to England. The ships arrived in England on October 4, 1780 after attempting to search for the Northwest Passage one more time.

Legacy Captain James Cook is known for his incredible voyages that took him farther south than any other explorer of his time. He was not able to prove that a southern continent existed, but he had many other achievements. He was the first to map the coastlines of New Zealand, the eastern coastline of what would become Australia, and several small islands in the Pacific. Cook was also one of the first Europeans to encounter the Hawaiian Islands. His reports on Botany Bay were part of the reason Britain established a penal colony there in 1787. 8 He is still recognized today for creating some of the most accurate maps of the Pacific islands during his time. James Cook helped the south seas go from being a vast and dangerous unknown area to a charted and inviting ocean.

  • Charles J. Shields, James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002), 16.
  • Richard Hough, Captain James Cook (New York: WW Norton & Co., 1997) 38-39.
  • James Cook, The Voyages of Captain Cook, ed. Ernest Rhys (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1999), 11
  • Captain James Cook and Robert Welsch, Voyages of Discovery (Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1993), v.
  • Cook and Welsch, Voyages of Discovery , 102-106.
  • Cook, The Voyages of Captain Cook , xiv.
  • Charles J. Shields, James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific , 56.
  • Cook and Welsch, Voyages of Discovery , v.


Shields, Charles J. James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific . Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002.

Hough, Richard. Captain James Cook . New York: WW Norton & Co., 1997.

Cook, James. The Voyages of Captain Cook , edited by Ernest Rhys. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1999.

Cook, Captain James, and Robert Welsch. Voyages of Discovery. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1993.

captain james cook's three voyages

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Captain Cook’s 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret Mission

The explorer traveled to Tahiti under the auspices of science 250 years ago, but his secret orders were to continue Britain’s colonial project

Lorraine Boissoneault

Lorraine Boissoneault


It was 1768, and the European battle for dominance of the oceans was on. Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands had already spent several centuries traversing the globe in search of new land to conquer and resources to exploit, but the Pacific—and specifically, the South Seas—remained largely unknown. In their race to be the first to lay claim to new territory, the British government and the Royal Navy came up with a secret plan: Send a naval officer on a supposedly scientific voyage, then direct him to undertake a voyage of conquest for the fabled Southern Continent. The man chosen for the job was one James Cook, a Navy captain who also had training in cartography and other sciences.

Europeans already knew the Pacific had its share of islands, and some of them held the potential for enormous wealth. After all, Ferdinand Magellan became the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean way back in 1519, and by then it was already known that the “Spice Islands,” (in modern-day Indonesia) were located in the Pacific. Magellan was followed by a dozen other Europeans—especially Dutch and Spanish captains—over the next two centuries, some of them sighting the western shores of Australia, others identifying New Zealand. But the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, combined with the unreliability of maps, meant no one was sure whether the Southern Continent existed or had been discovered.

Even among the British, Cook wasn’t the first to set his sights on the South Pacific. Just a year earlier, Captain Samuel Wallis piloted the ship Dolphin to make first landing on Tahiti, which he christened George III Island. As for the British government, they had publicized their interest in the region since 1745, when Parliament passed an act offering any British subject a reward of £20,000 if they found the fabled northwest passage from Hudson Bay in North America to the Pacific. The British government wasn’t alone in its imperialist interests; the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman had already sighted an island off the south coast of Australia that would later be named after Tasmania him, and the Spanish had built fortifications on the Juan Fernández Islands off the west coast of Chile.

“For the Spaniards to fortify and garrison Juan Fernández meant that they intended to try to keep the Pacific closed,” writes historian J. Holland Rose . “The British Admiralty was resolved to break down the Spanish claim.”

But to do so without drawing undue attention to their goals, the Admiralty needed another reason to send ships to the Pacific. The Royal Society presented the perfect opportunity for just such a ruse. Founded in 1660 , the scientific group was at first little more than a collection of gentlemen with the inclination and resources to undertake scientific projects. As historian Andrew S. Cook (no apparent relation) writes , “The Society was in essence a useful vehicle for government to utilize the scientific interests of individual fellows, and for fellows to turn their scientific interests into formal applications for government assistance.” When the Royal Society approached the Navy, requesting they send a ship to Tahiti to observe the transit of Venus that would occur in 1769, it probably seemed like the perfect cover, Cook the scholar says.

Captain Cook’s 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret Mission

The 1769 transit of Venus was the mid-18th-century version of the mania surrounding last year’s solar eclipse. It was one of the most massive international undertakings to date. Captain Cook’s crew, complete with astronomers, illustrators and botanists, was one of 76 European expeditions sent to different points around the globe to observe Venus crossing the sun. Scientists hoped that these measurements would help them quantify Earth’s distance from the sun and extrapolate the size of the solar system. The rare event was deemed so important that the French government, fresh off fighting the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War) with England, issued an instruction to its war ships not to harass Cook. It wasn’t an undue precaution; French astronomer Guillaume Le Gentil traveled to India to observe the 1761 transit of Venus but ultimately missed the event because his ship had to outrun English men-of-wars, according to historian Charles Herdendorf .

Captaining the Endeavour , Cook departed from Plymouth 250 years ago on August 26, 1768, in order to arrive in Tahiti on time for the transit, which would happen on June 3, 1769. His path carried him across the Atlantic and around the difficult-to-traverse Cape Horn in South America toward the south Pacific. He carried with him sealed secret instructions from the Admiralty, which he’d been ordered not to open until after completing the astronomical work. Unfortunately for the scientists, the actual observations of the transit at points around the world were mostly useless. Telescopes of the period caused blurring around the planet that skewed the recorded timing of Venus passing across the sun.

But for Cook, the adventure was just beginning. “Cook left no record of when he opened the sealed packet of secret orders he’d been given by the Admiralty,” writes Tony Horwitz in Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before . “But on August 9, 1769, as he left Bora-Bora and the other Society Isles behind, Cook put his instructions into action. ‘Made sail to the southward,’ he wrote, with customary brevity.”

The gist of those instructions was for Cook to travel south and west in search of new land—especially the legendary “Terra Australis,” an unknown continent first proposed by Greek philosophers like Aristotle, who believed a large southern continent was needed to balance out the weight of northern continents. In their instructions, the Royal Navy told Cook not only to map the coastline of any new land, but also “to observe the genius, temper, disposition and number of the natives, if there be any, and endeavor by all proper means to cultivate a friendship and alliance with them… You are also with the consent of the natives to take possession of convenient situations in the country, in the name of the King of Great Britain.”

Cook went on to follow those instructions over the next year, spending a total of 1,052 days at sea on this mission. He became the first European to circumnavigate and meticulously chart the coastline of New Zealand’s two islands, and repeatedly made contact with the indigenous Maori living there. He also traveled along the east coast of Australia, again becoming the first European to do so. By the time he and his crew (those who survived, anyway) returned to England in 1771, they had expanded the British Empire’s reach to an almost incomprehensible degree. But he hadn’t always followed his secret instructions exactly as they were written—he took possession of those new territories without the consent of its inhabitants, and continued to do so on his next two expeditions.

Captain Cook’s 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret Mission

Even as he took control of their land, Cook seemed to recognize the indigenous groups as actual humans. On his first trip to New Zealand, he wrote , “The Natives … are a strong, well made, active people as any we have seen yet, and all of them paint their bod[ie]s with red oker and oil from head to foot, a thing we have not seen before. Their canoes are large, well built and ornamented with carved work.”

“It would be as wrong to regard Cook as an unwitting agent of British imperialism as [it would be] to fall into the trap of ‘judging him according to how we judge what happened afterwards,’” writes Glyndwr Williams . “His command of successive voyages indicated both his professional commitment, and his patriotic belief that if a European nation should dominate the waters and lands of the Pacific, then it must be Britain.”

But the toll of that decision would be heavy. Cook estimated the native population on Tahiti to be 204,000 in 1774. By the time the French took control of the territory and held a census in 1865, they found only 7,169 people of native descent . And as for the British Empire, the 1871 census found 234 million people lived in it—but only 13 percent were in Great Britain and Ireland, writes Jessica Ratcliff in The Transit of Venus Enterprise in Victorian Britain . From the Caribbean and South America to Africa to South Asia to now, thanks to Cook, Australia, the aphorism “the sun never sets on the British Empire” was borne. Cook’s expedition to conquer inhabited territory had repercussions for millions of people who would never actually see the nation who had claimed their homes.

For centuries, the myth of Cook’s voyage as an essentially scientific undertaking persisted, although plenty of people had already surmised the government's hand in Cook's journeys. Still, a full copy of the Admiralty’s “Secret Instructions” weren't made public until 1928. Today, Cook’s legacy is recognized more for what it was: an empire-building project dressed with the trappings of science.

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Lorraine Boissoneault

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Lorraine Boissoneault is a contributing writer to covering history and archaeology. She has previously written for The Atlantic, Salon, Nautilus and others. She is also the author of The Last Voyageurs: Retracing La Salle's Journey Across America. Website:

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  • London, United Kingdom: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, and H. Hughs, 1773-1785.
  • 8 volumes 4to., 1 volume, folio atlas.
  • variously bound, all in later cloth clamshell boxes (except for the atlas)
  • variously paginated

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First editions of the first and second voyage, the second and superior edition of the third voyage, with a total of 205 plates. The voyages of Captain James Cook (1728-1779), Includes three volumes relating to Cook's circumnavigation of the globe (published 1773), 2 volumes relating to Cook's voyage toward the South Pole (published 1777), and three volumes relating to Cook's voyages in the Pacific Ocean (published 1785). Also included is a one volume folio atlas with maps and engraved illustrations. Cook conducted his voyages between 1768 and 1779. He is noted for his discovery of Australia, his voyages into the northern Pacific and into the Arctic Ocean by way of the Bering Strait searching for the Northwest Passage, his two voyages south of the Antarctic Circle, and his discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. It was in Hawaii that Cook and four of his officers were murdered by native Hawaiians. Cook's voyages were a landmark in enhancing knowledge of the Pacific basin. All volumes with engraved maps and illustrations. Covers of some volumes rubbed and scuffed, some outside joints or inside hinges cracked. An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, And Captain Cook, In the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour. London: W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1773. First edition in 3 volumes, 4to (10 6/8 x 8 4/8 inches). With "A Description of the Cuts" and "Directions for placing the cuts and charts". First volume contains 21 plates, volume two contains 22 plates, and volume three contains 9 plates, for a total of 52 plates. All three volumes in a contemporary full leather with five bands in six compartments. 'HAWKSWORTH'S | COLLECTS: OF | VOYAGES' in second compartment from the top, with volume number for each volume in the third compartment from the top, both in gilt. Light foxing throughout. All edges speckled red. Some shelf wear and hinges tender, but otherwise a beautiful set. Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World Performed in His Majesty's Ship the Resolution and Adventure in the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution. In which is included, Captain Furneaux's Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships. In Two Volumes. / Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters. W. Strahan; T. Cadell c. 1779, London. Edition : First edition in two volumes. Volume one has 38 plates and volume two has 28 plates, for a total of 66 plates. Original half-leather over marbled paper covered boards. Four raised bands. Front cover of volume one is detached. Shelfwear around edges as well as along the spine. Minor foxing throughout. 'COOK'S | VOYAGES' in compartment second from the top, Volume number in compartment forth from the top, and '1777' in bottom compartment along the spines of both volumes. Fore-edge of both volumes are untrimmed. The volume compartment of volume one has detached, but is present with this set. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, for making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere. Performed under the Direction of Captains Cook, Clerke, and Gore, in His Majesty's Ships the Resolution and Discovery; in the Years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. printed by H. Hughs for G. Nicol and T. Cadell, London, 1785. 4 volumes (text: 3 volumes, quarto [11 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches]; atlas: 1 volume. Large folio [21 3/4 x 15 1/2 inches]). Volume one has seven (7) plates, volume two has eleven (11) plates, and volume three has six (6) plates. The atlas has 63 plates, bringing the total to 87 plates. The plates excluded from the atlas are: 2, 3, 5, 9, 12, 19, 24, 30, 32, 33, 37, 44, 53, 59, 69. (Lacking "Death of Captain Cook"). All of the plates are in exceptional condition aside from a minor outline of a water stain effecting some of the plates. Full contemporary calf, gilt along edge of covers and spine. Marbled pastedowns and free endpapers. Expertly rebacked with minor shelf wear along edges. Top edge stained black. Atlas in half leather over marbled paper covered boards. Rubbing along the edges, spine, and hinges, else a terrific copy. Philips 3946. Hill 782, 358, 361; Edward Jenks "The Great Events Vol. XVII p.238; Mitchell Library "Cook" 650, 1229, 1553; Sabin 30934, 16245, 16250.

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Preparedness Notes for Saturday — July 13, 2024

Preparedness Notes for Saturday — July 13, 2024

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On July 13th,1772 Captain James Cook began his second voyage to the South Seas aboard HMS Resolution to search for Terra Australis (Southern continent)

On this day in 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance structuring settlement of the Northwest Territory and creating a policy for the addition of new states to the nation. The Northwest Ordinance established the first organized US territory, set requirements for statehood – guaranteeing equal status with the original 13 states, outlawed slavery in the new lands, and protected civil liberties. The members of Congress knew that if their new confederation were to survive intact, it had to resolve the states’ competing claims to western territory.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

Today we present another entry for Round 113 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest . The prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  • The photovoltaic power specialists at Quantum Harvest LLC  are providing a store-wide 10% off coupon . Depending on the model chosen, this could be worth more than $2,000.
  • A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any of their one, two, or three-day course (a $1,095 value),
  • A Peak Refuel “Wasatch Pack” variety of 60 servings of premium freeze-dried breakfasts and dinners in individual meal pouches — a whopping 21,970 calories, all made and packaged in the USA — courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $359 value),
  • American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses .
  • Two sets of The Civil Defense Manual, (in two volumes) — a $193 value — kindly donated by the author, Jack Lawson.

Second Prize:

  • A SIRT STIC AR-15/M4 Laser Training Package, courtesy of Next Level Training , that has a combined retail value of $679
  • Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).
  • Two Super Survival Pack seed collections , a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC .
  • A transferable $150 FRN purchase credit from Elk Creek Company , toward the purchase of any pre-1899 antique gun. There is no paperwork required for delivery of pre-1899 guns into most states, making them the last bastion of firearms purchasing privacy!

Third Prize:

  • A Berkey Light water filter, courtesy of USA Berkey Filters (a $305 value),
  • Three sets each of made-in-USA regular and wide-mouth reusable canning lids. (This is a total of 300 lids and 600 gaskets.) This prize is courtesy of Harvest Guard  (a $270 value)
  • A $200 credit from Military Surplus LLC that can be applied to purchase and/or shipping costs for any of their in-stock merchandise, including full mil-spec ammo cans, Rothco clothing and field gear, backpacks, optics, compact solar panels, first aid kits, and more.
  • A transferable $150 FRN purchase credit from Elk Creek Company , toward the purchase of any pre-1899 antique gun.

More than $900,000 worth of prizes have been awarded since we started running this contest. In 2023, we polled blog readers, asking for suggested article topics . Refer to that poll if you haven’t yet chosen an article topic. Round 113 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum , and that articles on practical “how-to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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captain james cook's three voyages


  1. 250 Years Ago, Captain Cook Embarked On First Of Three Voyages

    captain james cook's three voyages

  2. Les voyages de James Cook Photo Stock

    captain james cook's three voyages

  3. James Cook

    captain james cook's three voyages

  4. James Cook

    captain james cook's three voyages

  5. Three voyages of James Cook

    captain james cook's three voyages

  6. Australian Explorers

    captain james cook's three voyages


  1. Captain James Cook's Whitechapel home

  2. Mixed feelings as New Zealand marks 250 years since Captain James Cook's voyage

  3. Captain James Cook R.N.,F.R.S. 1728

  4. Three Men Go To Venice S01E01 part 3

  5. Captain James Cook's Story of Adventure

  6. Captain James Cooks Lookout to where he landed 10 October 1774. #norfolkisland #relaxingmusic 


  1. Third voyage of James Cook

    The route of Cook's third voyage shown in red; blue shows the return route after his death. James Cook's third and final voyage (12 July 1776 - 4 October 1780) took the route from Plymouth via Tenerife and Cape Town to New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands, and along the North American coast to the Bering Strait.. Its ostensible purpose was to return Omai, a young man from Raiatea, to his ...

  2. James Cook

    James Cook's three Pacific voyages. James Cook (born October 27, 1728, Marton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire, England—died February 14, 1779, Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii) was a British naval captain, navigator, and explorer who sailed the seaways and coasts of Canada (1759 and 1763-67) and conducted three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean (1768-71 ...

  3. James Cook

    Captain James Cook FRS (7 November [O.S. 27 October] 1728 - 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, cartographer and naval officer famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and to New Zealand and Australia in particular. He made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific, during which he achieved the first recorded European ...

  4. James Cook: Third Voyage

    Book: Cook, James. A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Undertaken, by the Command of His Majesty, for Making Discoveries in the Northern Hemisphere, to Determine the Position and Extent of the West Side of North America; Its Distance from Asia; and the Practicability of a Northern Passage to Europe. Performed under the Direction of Captains Cook ...

  5. A table of the crew of Cook's Three Voyages 1768-1779

    Captain. James Cook. Tobias Furneaux. Lieutenants. Robert Cooper. Arthur Kempe : Richard Pickersgill. James Burney : Charles Clerke : Midshipmen. James Colnett. ... David Williams marriage is correct and not a typo, then there is an easy explanation for his absence from the muster of Captain Cook's Resolution. Cook's voyages on Resolution were ...

  6. Cook's Voyages Map

    Quick Facts: The map shows the three voyages of Captain James Cook. The first voyage is in red, the second voyage is in green and the third voyage is in blue. Following Cook's death, the route his crew took is in the blue dashed line. (Credit: Andre Engels) The map shows the three voyages of Captain James Cook. The first voyage is in red, the ...

  7. Captain James Cook's Fatal Third Voyage

    When Cook tried to take the king hostage after the theft of a ship's boat, the inhabitants became alarmed and during a struggle Cook was stabbed and killed on 14 February 1779. Captain Clerke took command of the ships, but he too died on the voyage and Lieutenant Gore finally brought the ships home. Cook fails to find the North-West Passage and ...

  8. James Cook and his voyages

    The Library has several collections of tapa cloth, including a piece of cloth and two reed maps brought back by Alexander Hood in 1774 and a catalogue of 56 specimens of cloth collected on Cook's three voyages (1787). Captain James Cook's walking stick. Clothes brush said to have been the property of Captain Cook . Captain James Cook's fork

  9. The Third Voyage

    Wed. Anchors in Bay. 14. Sun. Cook along with Marines, Corporal Thomas, Privates Hinks, Allen and Fatchett are killed ashore near village of Kaawaloa, about 9 a.m. There had been ill feeling, menaces and theft - particularly Discovery's cutter - and Cook had gone ashore to settle the matter.

  10. Captain Cook's voyages of exploration

    The first voyage. James Cook's first Pacific voyage (1768-1771) was aboard the Endeavour and began on 27 May 1768. Cook's voyage had three aims; to establish an observatory at Tahiti in order to record the transit of Venus (when the planet passed between the earth and the sun), on 3 June 1769. The second aim was to record natural history, led ...

  11. The three voyages of Captain James Cook round the world

    Cook, James, 1728-1779, Great Britain. Royal Navy , Voyages around the world , Oceania -- Discovery and exploration , Pacific Coast (South America) -- Description and travel Publisher

  12. James Cook

    A British explorer and navigator, Captain James Cook led three expeditions to the Pacific Ocean . His voyages took him south to the Antarctic Circle and north to the Bering Strait.

  13. Captain James Cook

    The Effects of Cook's Voyages. To the average Englishman, the discoveries and explorations of James Cook were so remote that they almost belonged to another world. Before these discoveries, even Americans knew nothing of the west coast of the continent to which there new country was established. Three volumes of Cook's voyages are published.

  14. Captain James Cook's voyages of discovery

    Captain James Cook's three epic voyages to the South Seas, between 1768-1779, transformed the way Europeans viewed the Great South Land and the Pacific Ocean. James Cook's first Pacific voyage (1768-1771) was aboard the Endeavour and began on 27 May 1768. Cook's first goal was to establish an observatory at Tahiti to record the transit of Venus ...

  15. Captain Cook Society > Cook's Voyages > Third Pacific Voyage

    James Cook was appointed to command a ship called Resolution, which left Plymouth on 12 July, 1776. Charles Clerke commanded the ship Discovery, which left on 1 August, and caught up with Resolution at Cape Town. A list of what Cook was up to preparing for this voyage and during the voyage can be found in Paul Capper's list of Third Voyage dates.

  16. James Cook

    Endnotes. Charles J. Shields, James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific (Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2002), 16. Richard Hough, Captain James Cook (New York: WW Norton & Co., 1997) 38-39. James Cook, The Voyages of Captain Cook, ed. Ernest Rhys (Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1999), 11 Captain James Cook and Robert Welsch, Voyages of Discovery (Chicago: Academy ...

  17. Voyages

    James Cook's three Pacific voyages represent the turning point for British ambitions in the South Seas. Prior to these voyages, the Pacific was poorly documented. ... The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery, vols I-IV, Hakluyt Society Extra Series 34-37, The Hakluyt Society, Cambridge, 1968-1972, reprinted by the ...

  18. List of ships of James Cook

    Captain James Cook, FRS, RN (7 November 1728 - 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy.Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European discovery of eastern Australia, Hawaii and undertook the first circumnavigation of New Zealand.

  19. Captain Cook's 1768 Voyage to the South Pacific Included a Secret

    Lorraine Boissoneault. August 24, 2018. Captain James Cook set out on a voyage across the Pacific 250 years ago, seemingly on a scientific voyage. But he carried secret instructions from the Navy ...

  20. Complete Set of Captain James Cook'S Three Voyages, With Atlas

    The voyages of Captain James Cook (1728-1779), Includes three volumes relating to Cook's circumnavigation of the globe (published 1773), 2 volumes relating to Cook's voyage toward the South Pole (published 1777), and three volumes relating to Cook's voyages in the Pacific Ocean (published 1785). Also included is a one volume folio atlas with ...

  21. First voyage of James Cook

    The route of Cook's first voyage. The first voyage of James Cook was a combined Royal Navy and Royal Society expedition to the south Pacific Ocean aboard HMS Endeavour, from 1768 to 1771.It was the first of three Pacific voyages of which James Cook was the commander. The aims of this first expedition were to observe the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun (3-4 June that year), and to seek ...

  22. July 13th,1772 Captain James Cook's second voyage to the South Seas

    On July 13th,1772 Captain James Cook began his second voyage to the South Seas aboard HMS Resolution to search for Terra Australis (Southern continent). On this day in 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance structuring settlement of the Northwest Territory and creating a policy for the addition of new states to the nation.

  23. An Account of the Voyages

    An Account of the Voyages first page, 1773. An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of his Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, and successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: drawn up from the journals which were kept by the several commanders, and from ...