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One of the greatest explorers of the eighteenth century, British navigator Captain James Cook (1728–1779) made important discoveries during a three-year expedition (1768–71) in the South Pacific Ocean aboard the ship Endeavor. He landed at Tahiti and became the first European to discover and chart the coasts of New Zealand, Australia, and New Guinea. On another three-year voyage, Cook explored the ice fields of Antarctica. In 1776 he began a voyage in hopes of finding a route around North America from the Pacific. Though he was unsuccessful, he mapped the coast of the Bering Strait and North America. With winter approaching, Cook decided to go south. While visiting the Hawaiian Islands, which he had named the Sandwich Islands (after his patron, James Montague the fourth earl of Sandwich) in 1778, Cook was killed in a battle with native peoples over a stolen boat.
Further Information: Faber, Harold. The Discoverers of America. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992, pp. 258-69; Go Pacific. About Hawaii. [Online] Available http://www.gopacific.com:80/hawaii/history/HIST.html, October 22, 2000; Haney, David. Captain James Cook and the Explorers of the Pacific. New York: Chelsea House, 1992; Mariners' Museum. The Age of Exploration. [Online] Available http://www.mariner.org/age/menu.html, December 12, 1999.
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