James Cook is one of the most important personalities in the history of geographical discoveries. He was attacked and eaten by natives of the Hawaiian Islands. However, is this version bears any truth?
In England, James Cook (1728-1779) is highly esteemed personality, who conducted various secret missions for the British Admiralty. He sailed around the world three times. He was the first to cross the South Pole Circle and for the first time in history discovered the islands of New Zealand, New Caledonia and many other Pacific islands, located near the coasts of Australia. His maps were drawn very accurately and can still be used today.
The biggest achievement for the shipping was a victory against the scurvy. This diseased is associated with a lack of vitamin C in food. During those times, this disease has managed to destroy many lives of sailors because the Admiralty fed sailors with low quality food. James Cook was the first captain to ask for better food, especially fermented cabbage. He also taught sailors to constantly ventilate ship’s premises. During James Cook’s journeys, the members of his crew died seldom.
James Cook took his third journey on July 1776, taking sailboats Resolution with the crew of 112 people and Discovery with the crew of 88 people. He sought to discover the way in the North-East, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He searched for the shortest sea route from Europe to Asia. Along the way, Cook’s ships have discovered the Hawaiian Islands and reached the Bering Strait after two years. In autumn, the ships could not sail further because of ice and decided to come back for supplies and ship repair in the Hawaiian Islands.
Hawaiian natives met travelers with respect. They thought that their mythical generous god has returned. James Cook was unable to satisfy their expectations. He asked for some food of the natives and in such a way impoverished them. When sailors decided to leave the natives after a month, the natives were happy to let them go. Strong winds forced the ships of James Cook to come back and some sailors were sent to inform the natives about their visit, but they were disappointed to know that the natives decided to cease all the contact with the visitors.
On February 14 1779, the British noticed that one of their boats was stolen. James Cook has ordered for his troops to go on and destroy some canoes and take hostages. Accompanied by armed soldiers, James Cook himself has decided to pay a visit for a local tribal chief. There was an unpleasant scene when Cook has decided to force the chief to come into the boat, provoking the tragic fate of captain himself.
Cook’s death is described in detail by Lieutenant James King. According to him, James Cook foresaw that it will be impossible to take the chief as a hostage without bloodshed. That is why he decided to come back to the boat. Sailors have started shooting at the natives and managed to kill some of them. Hawaiian natives, armed with spears and stones attacked the English sailors.
“Our unfortunate commander stood near the water. While he was looking at the attackers, no one dared to touch him. When he turned to stop his crew shooting at the natives, he was wounded in the back and fell into the water. The natives quickly removed him from the water, dragged on shore and started stabbing his body,” – wrote Mr. King.
Charles Clark became the commander of expedition. He sought to retrieve the remains of James Cook from the natives. After his tries were unsuccessful, he decided to use force. Troops and sailors climbed from the ships upon the cannon fire and managed to defeat natives and destroy their village. The natives were afraid of English retaliation and brought a casket of meet and a skull. This gave way for a legend that Captain Cook was eaten by the natives. It may be the truth that they have managed to eat some parts of Captain because the natives were doing the same with their defeated enemies.
On February 22 1779, the remains of James Cook were buried according to marine traditions in the sea. Even after the tragic fate of James Cook, the members of Discovery and Resolution continued their mission. After unsuccessful attempts to break through Chukotka Sea, the ships returned to England without any knowledge whether there is a way connecting Pacific and Atlantic oceans.