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!
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.
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????