James Cook (b. Marton, North Yorkshire, October 27, 1728; d. Hawaii, February 14, 1779) was a navigator, explorer and British cartographer.
He carried out three trips through the Pacific Ocean, during which they were described with large precision areas, and many islands and coasts were documented for the first time in European maps.
His greater achievements, which was a claim for Great Britain, was the coast of Australia, discovered by the Spaniards in the century XVI;
the Hawaiian Islands
Orange Hibiscus , discovered by Spanish Alvaro of Saavedra in 1527 and the circumnavigation and cartography of Newfoundland and New Zealand.
James Cook had a humble origin. He was born in Marton, North Yorkshire, near the current locality of Middleborough. His parents, Grace and James, did rural tasks. The father was a Scottish immigrant. On the whole, there were five brothers. James was educated in the school of Great Ayton, city where all the family had moved for labor reasons. When he was 13 years old, he began to work with his father in the administration of a farm.
In 1745 Cook left his home to work as an apprentice of tradesman in the village of fishermen of Staithes. After a year and a half there, the owner of the store found that James was not appropriated for that work, so he carried him to the harbor city of Whitby and he presented him to John and Henry Walker. They were prominent ship owners and they were in the business of coal. Cook was taken as the apprentice in a ship merchantman of the small fleet of ships that transported coal along the English coast.
Once he completed his learning of three years, he began to work in commercial ships of the Baltic Sea, where he scaled quickly through the ranks of the merchant marine. In 1755 he was offered to be a commander of the brig Friendship, but in little time was advanced to volunteer with the service of the Royal Navy
Missouri Battleship (Armed Real British).
In 1755, the Kingdom of Great Britain was being rearmed for what was the beginning of the War of the Seven Years. Cook thought that his career would be able to advance more quickly under the active duty. Nevertheless, this required him to begin from below the naval hierarchy and, in June of that year he began as able seaman
Sailor Salute (sailor with experience of at least two years), aboard the HMS Eagle, under the command of the captain Hugh Palliser.
In 1762 Cook married Elizabeth Batts, the daughter of one of his mentors. They had six children; James, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Joseph, George and Hugh. When Cook was not sailing, he resided in the East End of London.
Beginning of his naval career in the British Real Armada
During the War of the Seven Years, Cook participated in the place of the city of Quebec, before the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, in 1759.
Later and expedition of the coast of Newfoundland, carried out by James Cook and Michael Lane Allí , showed his ability for topography and cartography, as he was responsible for making maps of great part of the entrance to the river San Lorenzo, permitting to the 1st General Wolfe to do its attack of unexpected form on the Plains of Abraham.
Between 1763 and 1767, Cook wrote letters on the irregular coasts of Newfoundland: between 1763 and 1764, by the northwest strait; between 1765 and 1766, the southern coast among the Peninsula Burin and Castrate Ray; and, finally, the western coast during the year 1767. These five seasons of Cook gave as a result the first map to great scale and of great accuracy on the place. Also they gave to Cook a great practice in topographical control, carried out in adverse conditions, which was called to the attention of the Royal Navy and the Royal Society, so much that it became a crucial moment in the personal career of Cook as in the British position looking to do the overseas discoveries.
The Trips of Cook
In 1768 Cook set sail to the command of the HMB Endeavour from England, surrounded Cape Horn and continued toward the west by the Pacific, until arriving at Tahiti April 13, 1769, where the observations could be carried out. The traffic of the planet Venus was foretold for June 3, that year, and in that moment he took charge of the construction of a small fort and observatory.
The astronomer appointed for the task of observation was Chat Green, assistant of Nevil Maskelyne in the Royal Household. The main purpose of the mission was to obtain measurements that could be used with greater precision to calculate the distance between Venus and the Sun. If this was obtained, then they would be able to calculate the distances of the other known planets based on their relative orbits.
Green, Cook and Solander took measurements seperately, which had greater variations than the margins of error expected. The orchestration that they utilized was adequate for the epoch, but the methods utilized did not eliminate the errors. Later, when their results were compared with one of the other observers of the same event in different parts of the world, the result was not so conclusive or much needed as had been expected.
Once the observations were completed, Cook left to carry out the second purpose of his trip: to seek the South Pacific signs of the southernmost continent: Terra Australis. The Royal Society, and especially Alexander Dalrymple, believed that this should exist; nevertheless, Cook had his own doubts on the matter. With the aid of Tupaia, a Tahitian that had great knowledge of the geography of the Pacific, Cook fixed them to arrive to New Zealand, being the second European to arrive there. Abel Tasman, in 1642, had been the first. Cook made a map of all the coast of New Zealand, committing only some smaller errors. Also he discovered the strait of Cook, that separates the North Island of the South island, which Tasman had not seen.
Then he left with western course, to try to arrive at Land of the Go Diemen (today Tasmania), that seen by Tasman, for establish if formed part or not of the legendary southern continent. Nevertheless, they were forced to maintain a course more toward the north due to the strong winds. When they made out land, Cook named it Tip Hicks, since Leuit Hicks was the first one in making it out. Cook thought that could be Land of the Go Diemen, but in reality was part of the southeast coast of Australia, and with this became the first European acquaintances in finding the coast this of the continent.
The place sighted generally is calculated as a point halfway between the current cities of Orbost and Mallacota, in the state of Victory. A new recognition of the zone, carried out in 1843, baptized again the place as Tip Everard. For the bicentennial anniversary of the sighting, the name officially was changed to Tip Hicks again.
The Endeavour continued bound for the north, flanking the coast, maintaining the land in sight. Cook baptized different names to various places. After a week, they passed a great cove of little depth. In this place, called Kurnell, Cook and their crew had the first contact with the continent.
At the beginning, Cook called the place Bay Stingaree, due to the great quantity of lines found there; then was changed to Botanical Bay, and finally to Bay Botany (Botany Bay), by the unique species found by Banks, Solander and Spöring.
This first place in which they stopped, later was promoted (especially by Banks) as a good place to establish a settlement and a British colony. Nevertheless, almost eighteen years after this first arrival, when the captain Arthur Phillip arrived there in 1788 to establish a fort and a penal colony, he found that the bay and its outskirts were not a place as promising as had been described. Then, Phillip gave orders to move toward the north, to the place that Cook had called Port Jackson but had not explored in depth. It was in a place at Sydney Cove that the settlement was carried out of Sydney. During some years more, the place would continue being called generally Botany Bay. Here the first scientific expeditions were carried out to document the flora and the fauna of Australia.
In this trip, Cook had contact with natives of this place, which were of peaceful character.
Cook continued toward the north, mapping the coast. There was a misfortune when the Endeavour passed over the Great Barrier Reef on June 11, 1770. The ship was damaged seriously and the trip delayed almost seven weeks, while the repairs were done in the beach (near the springs of the current city of Cooktown, in the mouth of the river Endeavour). While they were there, Joseph Banks, Herman Spöring and Daniel Solander took a great collection of Australian flora. There, the crew had encounters with the aborigines of the place, which were especially peaceful. By the contact with the tribe Guugu Yimithirr, the word kangaroo (kangaroo) was introduced to the English language, deriving from gangaroo; "kangaroo" did not appoint the name of the animal, but the expression "do not I understand" with which they responded to the questions of the English.
Second trip (1772-1775)
Little time after his return, Cook was elevated as the Deputy (Lieutenant) to Commander (Master and Commander). Then, once more, he was commissioned by the Royal Society to seek the mythical Land Terra Australia. During his first trip he had shown, by means of the circumnavigation of New Zealand, that it was not united by the south to a greater continental mass, and although by means of the cartography of almost the totality of the coast of Australia had shown that it was of continental size, he still sought out Terra Australis toward the south. In spite of the evidences, many members of the Royal Society still believed that that continent existed.
On this trip, Cook commanded the ship HMS Resolution, while Tobias Furneauz commanded the ship companion HMS Adventure. The expedition circumnavigated the globe to very high south latitude, becoming one of the first in crossing the Antarctic Circle, January 17, 1773, reaching 71º 10' south. Also it discovered the island of Georgia and the Southern Sandwich Islands. In the Antarctic fog, the two ships were separated. Furneaux was toward New Zealand, where he lost some of his men by a fight with the Maori, and then sailed toward Great Britain, while Cook continued exploring the Antarctica.
Cook almost discovered the Antarctic continent, but returned toward the north, in direction to Tahiti to restock the ship. Then he took up again his course toward the south in a second fruitless try to find the continent. In this section of the trip he carried with him a Tahitian youth called Omai, which showed to be something less specialist on the Pacific of what had been Tupaia in the first trip. During the return trip, they were in the Friendly islands, island of Easter and Vanuatu, in 1774. Their reports on the return of the trip put stillness on the popular myth of Terra Australis.
Another achievement of the second trip was the successful employment of the stopwatch K1, which facilitated to measure lattitude.
To his return, Cook was elevated in the naval hierarchy to Captain, and he was offered an honorary retreat of the Royal Navy (as the official in the Hospital of Greenwich), but Cook could not be far away from the sea.
A third trip was planned to find the step of the Northwest. Cook would travel to the Pacific again and expected to pass to the Atlantic, while a simultaneous trip was planned.
Third trip (1776-1779)
In his last trip, Cook commanded once more the HMS Resolution, while the captain Chat Clerke commanded the HMS Discovery. Obviously, the trip was planned to carry Omai to return to Tahiti; this was what the public in general believed, since he had become a "curiosity" in London. After leaving Omai, Cook cont8nued to travel toward the north, and in 1778 became the first European in visiting the islands of Hawaii, to that they called the Sandwich Islands, after the fourth Earl of Sandwich, John Montagu, just then in charge of the Royal Navy. Hawaii dealt with great reverence, since the natives thought that he was a reincarnation of the God Lono. From there, he traveled toward the east, to explore the western coast of North America. He explored and did maps of the coast, from California to the strait of Bering.
The strait of Bering could not be crossed for Cook, although he attempted this various times. Cook had begun to have some stomach upset for some time, and this is taken as explanation of his irrational behavior toward the crew during the trip.
Cook returned to Hawaii in 1779. February 14, in Kealakekua Bay, a Hawaiian stole a small rowboat belonging to Cook. Normally, since thieves were common in Tahiti
Polynesian Cultural Center and other islands, hostages were taken until the things stolen would reappear. But Cook planned to take as hostage the king of Hawaii, Kalaniopuu. Due to the irrationality of their acts, he had an argument with a great multitude of natives on the beach, with which, during the skirmish, some natives had hit Cook on the head, and then stabbed him to death.
Clerke took charge of the expedition and did a final intent to cross for the Strait of Bering. The Resolution and the Discovery were returned in London in 1780.
The eleven years of navigation of Cook by the Pacific Ocean contributed in great measure to an increase of the European know-how in the zone. Many islands, like the island of Easter and the Sandwich Islands, were found for the first time by Europeans, and his greatest achievement was the creation of naval cartography of large areas of the Pacific, with great precision.
For the creation of maps it is necessary to know the latitude and length. The navigators had been capable of calculating the latitude of form for centuries, measuring the angular distance to the Sun or to another star of the firmament; but the length is more difficult of determining, due to that is expanded with the increase of the circumference of Earth toward the Equator.
Earth carries out a complete rotation, of 360º on its own axis (a sidereal day), once each 24 hours; more exactly in 23 h, 56 min and 4.091 s: this becomes approximately 15 degrees for hour or 1 degree every four minutes. Cook imagined that, calculating the difference of time of an initial point at noon, and utilizing the position of the Sun, the length could be calculated.
He calculated lengths with accuracy during his first trip, due to his abilities to sail, the aid of the astronomer Chat Green and using the boards recently published, Nautical Almanac, that contained the distances between the moon and seven stars selected. In his second travel, utilized the stopwatch K1, made by Larcum Kennedy, which was of the size of a pocket watch. It was a copy of the clock H4 done by John Harrison, which had been the first one in maintaining the measurement of the time of wise form in the sea, upon being used in the trip of Deptford to Jamaica, between 1761 and 1762.
There were various artists in the first trip. Sydney Parkinson carried out many of the sketches, completing more than 264 drawings before his death, which occurred almost in the end of the trip. They were of immense scientific value for the British botanists. In the second expedition of Cook the artist William Hodges participated, who carried out paintings of landscapes of Tahiti
Polynesian Cultural Center , Easter Island and of other places.
Cook was accompanied by various scientists, whose observations and discoveries added importance to the trips. The botanist Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander were in the first trip. Among the both of them, they collected more than 3,000 species of plants
Coffee Plant .
Cook was the first European in having an extensive contact with the inhabitants of the Pacific. He navigated several islands close to Philippines, and even to more remote and smaller islands in the South Pacific, and he arrived at the wise conclusion that there was an ethnic relation among all the people of the Pacific, in spite of the fact that they were found separated by large distances.