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James Cook

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James Cook, on an engraving from 1778.

James Cook was an English navigator, explorer and cartographer, born on October 27, 1728 in Marton (Middlesbrough) and died on February 14, 1779 in Hawaii.

Born to peasant parents in the North of York (England), he worked in the Port of Whitby at the age of 13. Then, between 1741 and 1754, he sailed on coal barges in the North Sea. In 1755, he joined the Royal Navy, he was named Captain in 1768. This seaman was known to have drawn very accurate maps.

In particular, he discovered New Caledonia on September 4, 1774, also the Sandwich islands (Hawaii). In 1759 he married Elizabeth Batts of Shadwell.

First voyage[edit | edit source]

First voyage, 1768-1771.

From 1768 to 1771, James Cook explored the South Pacific Ocean with the intent to observe the Venus transit of 1769 and to seek an hypothetic southern continent.

In 1769, he lived in Tahiti and the Company islands. Then he explored the seas to the south of Tahiti and headed west, not having discovered the mythical southern continent. He discovered NewZealand, then he completed the findings of previous explorers of New-Holland (now Australia). In September 1770, he had repaired his ship in Batavia in the Dutch Indies, then he retuned to England.

During this journey, he applied the advice of doctors to fight against scurvy.

Second voyage[edit | edit source]

Second voyage of Cook: click to see the animation

In 1772 to 1775, Cook left with two ships to explore the most southerly parts of the oceans one more time in order to find an supposed continent. He met icebergs and approached Antarctica, without finding it however

Cook then headed towards the Pacific Islands. He used the New Zealand and Tahiti, achipelagoes which he had already explored as supply bases for his two explorations of the area

  • From July 1773 to September 1773: departure for New Zealand and return to Tahiti by way of the Islands of Friendship
  • From December 1773 to September 1774: exploration of the Antarctic ocean, staying on Easter Island and return to New Zealand by way of the Company Islands.

In November 1774, he goes round the Cape of the West and returns to the united Kingdom while exploring the South Atlantic

He continues to experiment with methods for preventing and healing scurvy by the regular provision of fruits, fresh meat and the making of beer as needed

Third voyage[edit | edit source]

Third voyage of Cook: click to see the animation

From 1776 to 1779, with the Discovery and the Resolution, Cook discovered the Sandwich islands (Hawaii) and explored the Bering Straits in a quest for a northwest passage to connect the Pacific with the Atlantic

In the course of the third voyage, Cook described the Indian tribes of Vancouver Island, the Alaskan Coast, The Aleutian Islands and both sides of the Bering Straits He died during a stopover in the Hawaiian Islands when a riot occurred between the natives and his crew

Captain Clerke led the expedition towards Kamtchatka and also fails to find a northwest passage through the Bering Straits Clerke himself died of a sickness in August 1779 and Lieutenant Gore continued the return by way of the Asiatic coast as predicted by Cook with stopovers in Macao and Canton. Both ships reached England,October 4, 1780

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