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This Day in History

Australian Explorers

Sunday, February 14, 1779. :   Captain James Cook is killed by natives in Hawaii.

     James Cook was born at Marton in North Yorkshire, on 27 October 1728. At age 17 he was taken on as a merchant navy apprentice. Here he was educated in algebra, trigonometry, navigation, and astronomy, which later set Cook up to command his own ship. He completed three major voyages of discovery. On his first, departing in 1768, he commanded the 'Endeavour' on an expedition to chart the transit of Venus. He returned to England in 1771, having also circumnavigated the globe, including exploring and charting New Zealand and Australia's eastern coast. On his second journey which lasted from 1772-1775, he commanded the 'Resolution' and the 'Adventure' on an expedition to the South Pacific, disproving the rumour of a great southern continent, exploring the Antarctic Ocean, New Hebrides and New Caledonia.

On his third journey, commencing in 1776, Cook visited and named the Sandwich Islands, now known as Hawaii, and unsuccessfully sought a northwest passage along the coast of North America. Returning from this journey, he stopped at Hawaii again. After a boat was stolen by natives, he and his crew had an altercation with the Hawaiians. On 14 February 1779, Cook was speared by Hawaiian natives. It was an horrific end for one of the world's greatest navigators, and a man who contributed so much to charting previously unknown areas of the Pacific.

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