The 26th Day of August

HMS Endeavour Sets Sail from England 1768

The first of three expeditions sailed aboard HMS Endeavour, departing England on 26 August 1768.

The purpose of the voyage was to observe and record the 1769 transit of Venus across the Sun which, when combined with observations from other places, would help to determine the distance of the Earth from the Sun. The second part of his voyage was to search the south Pacific for signs of the postulated rich southern continent of Terra Australis.

James Cook, at age 39, born 7th November 1728, was promoted to lieutenant to grant him sufficient status to take the command of the HMS Endeavour.

HMS Endeavour Sets Sail from England 1768

In these voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across largely uncharted areas of the globe. He achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

Cook was attacked and killed in 1779 during his third exploratory voyage in the Pacific while attempting to kidnap the Island of Hawaii’s monarch, Kalaniʻōpuʻu, in order to reclaim a cutter stolen from one of his ships.

Extra Note: The Royal Society suggested command of the HMS Endeavour is given to Scottish geographer Alexander Dalrymple, who refused.

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