Captain Cook Reaches Hawaii

On the 18th of January, 1778, Captain James Cook (1728-1779), leading an expedition on HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, became the first European to discover the territory of what we now know as the Hawaiian Islands. Victoria here, now resident in her own little paradise in Florida, writing about a place she has never been!

Captain Cook, c. 1775
Cook led several voyages of discovery to Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the Pacific Islands.  After his career in the British Navy in North America, the famed cartographer and navigator sailed through vast uncharted territories. On his ships, he carried scientists such as Joseph Banks and others who collected specimens of unusual plants, insects, animals and fossils which greatly expanded contemporary knowledge of natural history.  The tales of resident peoples and their customs fascinated Europe.
Hawaiian Beaches, a touch of paradise
Cook named the “new” cluster of islands the Sandwich Islands, after John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), who was a sponsor of the voyage.
4th Earl of Sandwich
The 4th Earl of Sandwich is, perhaps, even more famous for his invention of the meat and bread combination named after him.  It is said that he wanted his meat wrapped in bread so that he could munch while staying in place at the gambling table; if that legend is not the truth, I sincerely doubt that it will ever be disproved.

The Hawaiian Islands are the northern-most islands of Polynesia, formed eons ago of volcanoes erupting through the Pacific waters.  After Cook’s first visit, he explored further northward, looking for that fabled northwest passge from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Unsuccessful, the ships returned to the “Sandwich Islands” in 1779. While their first visit had been peaceful, the second soon descended into trouble, ending with the death of some of the natives and Europeans, including Cook.

More pretty pictures

Following publications of the journals of Cook’s voyage and other accounts of the islands, more European explorers, whalers, and traders arrived, bringing with them the germs of deadly diseases such as influenza, measles and smallpox, and causing a precipitous decline in the native population.

I will not attept to catalogue all the events in Hawaiian history. Suffice it to say that after a period of consolidation, the islands became a kingdom and eventually were annexed to the United States as a territory in 1898.  In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th (and last) state of the union.  The role of the British in the development of the islands is commemorated in the Hawaiian flag, with the design of the Union Jack in the upper left corner.

I admit I have always wanted to visit the Hawaiian Islands, but every time I consider the amount of time it would take to fly there, I realize that in the same number of hours, I could be back in England.  Guess where I go!  But someday — I’ll make it.  If you have been to Hawaii, please share your impressions of the islands and convince me to book it!!

Or maybe I should just go to see George Clooney in The Descendants????

2 thoughts on “Captain Cook Reaches Hawaii”

  1. I spent one day in Hawaii. Coming back from Japan, the luxury liner my family sailed on had a stopover in Hawaii. We managed to get to the beach and to the pineapple fields in that one day. We'd just spent a year in Japan and I remember what a thrill it was to see a dime after all that time.

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