James Cook and the search for the “Northwest Passage”: the stakes and the scope of the third voyage

In chapter XII of the fourth and final book of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, first published in 1726, the eponymous character, Lemuel Gulliver, mentioned a task he had to fulfil upon his return to “civilisation”, so to speak: “I confess, it was whispered to me, that I was bound in Duty as a Subject of England, to have given in a Memorial to a Secretary of State, at my first coming over; because, whatever Lands are discovered by a Subject belong to the Crown”.[1] Even in a work of fiction, the link between a geographical discovery and the claim to a piece of land was recalled and its importance remains capital when one leaps into reality. Even though the advancement of science could define the eighteenth-century voyages of exploration, taking possession of unknown lands remained dear to the hearts of the explorers and James Cook was no exception to the rule. However, this concern was nowhere more obvious and prevalent, it seems, than in the relation of his third voyage, which he undertook from 1776 to 1779 – and could not complete, as he was killed on the then “Sandwich Islands” on February 14th, 1779. The main object, which was the discovery of the fabled “Northwest Passage”, implied finding an answer to a mystery that was two centuries old and this essay will focus on the exploration of the Pacific Rim, up to the Arctic Circle, by James Cook between March and October 1778, as the Resolution and the Discovery sailed along Oregon to Alaska, then through the Bering Straits, and back to Unalaska, in the Aleutian Islands. However, this choice does not exclude references to other episodes of the third voyage or to the official instructions from the Admiralty. Indeed, the analysis of its stakes and scope refers to two notions inherent to the voyages of exploration: while the former term indirectly implies a possible extension of the British sphere of influence – in the case of Cook, of course –, the contribution to the advancement of learning is rather echoed in the latter term. The study of Cook’s journals, therefore, without any allusion to subsequent facts, proves to be of great interest in trying to define the real nature of the third voyage – also in comparison with the first and the second –, as most of the entries are fraught with the hesitation, even the tensions, between the wish for exploration and the will for the expansion of his mother country. The importance of the historical context, when rival empires were vying for the possession of lands in a world whose global geography began to appear – greatly thanks to James Cook, at the same time – should not be forgotten either, in an attempt to reveal the continuity or discontinuity in the voyage itself. In order to look into the real nature of the third voyage as “represented” in the journals,[2] this essay will thus be divided into three parts: after briefly recalling how the myth of the “Northwest Passage” was shaped, the contradictory – or complementary – notions at work in the relation of the third voyage will be scrutinised, before laying the emphasis on the discovery of the real nature of the North American continent. Lastly, the third voyage will be studied in the light of the broader geopolitical and commercial concerns of the time.

1. The “Northwest Passage”, a source of various ambitions

It first has to be recalled that the Northwest Passage was a myth that was forged as previous ones faded away. In the early sixteenth century, the belief that America and Asia were a single continent was shattered when it was discovered that they were separated by an ocean, later called “Pacific”: “The answer did not become certain until September 1513, when Vasco Nuñez de Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama on foot and reached the Mar del Sur (South Sea)”.[3] The geographers then assumed the existence of the fabled Straits of Anián as the easiest passage between the two continents and, already, Sir Francis Drake had attempted to reach the Atlantic through this passage, as he circumnavigated the globe between 1577 and 1580, even though his course remains uncertain: “How far north did Drake actually go in his journey along the western coast of America […]? Not very far and certainly not anywhere close to the mythical straits of Anián, if we are to trust the earliest account of the journey, i.e. the 1589 version of Hakluyt’s Principall Navigations”.[4] Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in his Discourse of a Discovery for a New Passage to Cataia, published in 1576, had already written that a waterway from the Atlantic to the Pacific existed. Since then, the myth of the Northwest Passage had been a vivid one and navigators like Henry Hudson, Cavelier de la Salle or Henry Ellis, had all made attempts at crossing it, to no avail, and Samuel Hearne’s journey, in 1771, had even “eliminated the possibility that a passage for shipping could be found through North America”.[5]

In the late eighteenth century, the presence of the British Empire in North America was re-affirmed after victory in the Seven Years’ War and the dismantling of the French colonial empire, but the interest of the Royal Society in the discovery of the passage was revived by one of its council members, Daines Barrington, described by Glyn Williams as “the link between the society and the Admiralty in negotiations that resulted in Cook’s third voyage”.[6] Barrington was closely acquainted with the Earl of Sandwich and they both kept an eye on the accounts of the Russian explorations of the North Pacific that had been carried out for a few decades. James Cook was thus commissioned by the Admiralty to solve a riddle that had as much importance as the discovery of a Terra Australis incognita as, in December 1775, the British Parliament had offered a 20,000-pound reward for anyone who would find the passage:

It was a revised version of a bill passed in 1745 at the time of the Hudson Bay expeditions, with significant differences. The earlier act had specified that the passage must run into Hudson Bay, and it limited the reward to privately owned ships. The new act, passed in December 1775, offered the reward to naval as well as trading vessels and stipulated that the passage should lie north of latitude 52° n.[7]

The revised version of the bill accounted for the improvement of geographical knowledge but, unlike explorers like Hudson or Baffin, Cook endeavoured to find the passage from west to east and the goal of the voyage was explicitly assigned to him in the official instructions: “An attempt should be made to find out a Northern passage by Sea from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean”,[8] sailing along the North Pacific coastline , as the name given to the region by Sir Francis Drake was even recalled: “Upon your arrival on the coast of New Albion, […]”.[9] It was already assumed that the Passage was to be found north of latitude 65° n and recent experiments that seemed to show that salt water could not freeze had spurred Barrington’s enthusiasm. Cook also had to take advantage of the spring and the melting of the ice pack: “and, in the Spring of the ensuing Year 1778, to proceed from thence to the Northward as far as, in your prudence, you may think proper, in further search of a North East, or North West Passage”.[10] As a consequence, the scientific aspect was somehow downplayed in the journals, even though Cook pointed out, before he weighed anchor: “Received on board several Astronomical & Nautical Instruments which the Board of Longitude intrusted to me”,[11] but, contrary to the previous voyages, no scientists from the Royal Society boarded the Resolution or the Discovery, apart from artist John Webber, astronomer William Bayly and gardener David Nelson. This “paucity of civilian supernumeraries”[12] may stem from personal reasons, but the nature of the third voyage remained different, as Cook first had to sail to islands he had already discovered, before his attempt to find a waterway to the Atlantic, the main goal of his journey.

The reading of the journals reveals that James Cook, even before he reached the North Pacific, rather seemed to be concerned with extending the British sphere of influence through various means, besides fireworks meant to impress the natives. First, emphasising what the British had already brought to the natives of the Pacific islands, particularly in agriculture: “Before I returned on board I visited the several places where Mellon seeds & plants had been planted and had the Mortification to find that the most of them were distroyed by a small ant, but [the] Pine-aple plants I had planted were in a flourishing state”,[13] hinting that, at these latitudes, a similar method of cultivation could be possible. Then, he went on to praise the “civilising” role of the British and the will to entertain friendly relationships with the natives. Omai was the very example of this: “He was now fully sencible of the good treatment he had met with in England and entertained the highest ideas of the Country”.[14] As a mirror effect, some habits and customs of the natives still appeared to him as “uncivilised”. Lastly, a mark of the passage of the Resolution and the Discovery was often left, whether it be through a bottle containing a message or a few coins, “I also left on the little island a bottle containing this inscription, Georgius tertius Rex 31 Decembris 1777 Naves Resolution Iac. Cook Pr Discovery Car. Clerke Pr”,[15] “At the foot of a tree […] I left a bottle in which was an Inscription seting forth the Ships Names, date &ca and two Silver two penny pieces (date 1772)”,[16] or the engraving of the names of the ships and their captains on wooden planks: “Before I left the island I had the following Inscription cut out upon the one end of his house viz. Georgius tertius Rex 2 Novembris 1777 Naves Resolution Fac. Cook Pr Discovery Car. Clerke Pr”.[17] Cook had paid far less attention to this concern in his previous voyages and, as further evidence of the wish to extend the British sphere of influence, he named territories in the name of royal highnesses: “As thise islands have no name in the French Chart, I shall distinguish the two we have seen by the name of Prince Edward Islands after His Majestys 4th Son and the others Morion and Crozet Islands”,[18] or even took possession of territories in the very name of the British Crown, as he had been instructed to do in countries that were not claimed by other European powers:[19]

In the after noon I sent Mr King again with two armed boats, with orders to land on the northern point of the low land on the se side of the River, there to desplay the flag, take possession of the Country and River in His Majestys name and to bury in the ground a bottle containing t[w]o pieces of English coin (date 1772) and a paper on which was in[s]cribed the Ships names date &ca.[20]

The instructions could thus reveal a fundamental contradiction in the real intentions of the Admiralty. The need to share scientific knowledge through the publication of journals was prevalent in the late eighteenth century but, in the case of unexplored lands, there should be no interference with foreign powers, following the example of Sir Francis Drake, two centuries before, as efforts were made to keep his discoveries secret.[21] Taking possession of the lands without any competition from foreign powers was probably one of the hidden goals of the Admiralty and the hypothesis that secrecy began when the wish for expansion started to prevail deserves to be raised.

The balance seems to tip towards the wish for imperialism when Cook related his stays in the islands of the South Pacific, most of which he had already explored. When thinking about the main object of the voyage, the afore-mentioned stays could even be considered as digressions, but strict observations often concealed thoughts about a future expansion of the empire, as accounted for in the following description of an island in the Tonga archipelago: “From this hill we had a full View of the whole island except a part of the south point; […] I could not help flattering my self with the idea that some future Navigator may from the very same station behould these Medows stocked with Cattle, the English have planted at these islands”.[22] Even though such considerations could already be spotted in the journals of the first and the second voyages – to a lesser degree –, discontinuity thus seems to characterise those of the third voyage in this domain. The wish for expansion remained closely linked to scientific observations and the fact that the Admiralty had provided the funds for the voyage may have been a decisive factor as well. However, as far as geography is concerned, the stakes and the scope of the voyage had all the more importance as Cook had also been entrusted with drawing up a precise map of the North Pacific coastline.

2. The revelation of the North American continent

Until the eighteenth century, Spain had been the dominant power in the Pacific Ocean but, “As the political environment in Spain declined during the seventeenth century, no major attempts were made to sponsor voyages of exploration into the Pacific.”[23] The Russian government then subsidised voyages to map the North Pacific and, thanks to the voyages of Vitus Bering in 1728 and 1741, the western part of the area was already known. However, the eastern one remained a mystery, as shown by the maps drawn up before Cook’s third voyage. Maps by French geographers like Philippe Buache or Joseph Nicolas Delisle had already been published and the Carte des nouvelles découvertes au nord de la mer du sud tant à l’est de la Sibérie et du Kamtchatka qu’à l’ouest de la Nouvelle France, drawn up in 1752,[24] showed the approximate knowledge about the geography of present-day Alaska. A map by Thomas Jefferys published in 1761 in London gave an accurate depiction of Bering’s explorations, but the Northwest coast of America remained wrapped in mystery as well. During his explorations, Cook frequently criticised the previous maps and reports, particularly the one by Jacob von Staehlin, the secretary of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences, who had detailed Bering’s discoveries: “I must have concluded Mr Staehlins Map and account to be either exceeding erroneous even in latitude or else a mere fiction, a Sentance I had no right to pass upon it without farther proof”.[25] As was the case in the journals of the first and second voyages, Cook repeatedly reported his measures in latitude and longitude and, a few years later, in 1784, Henry Roberts’s Chart Exhibiting the Discoveries Made by Capt. James Cook showed a very accurate picture of the coastline of Oregon and of Alaska, which proved the invaluable accounts of the third voyage.

However, throughout his sailing up the coastline of North America – roughly between March and October 1778 –, in an attempt to find the Northwest Passage, a constant hesitation between hope and disappointment was to be found in most of the entries: after contemplating that a sound or an inlet might correspond to the fabled passage, Cook then realised that he had sailed past or round an island or discovered another part of North America’s mainland.

[…] there is here a space where Behring is supposed to have seen no land; it also favoured the account published by Mr Staehlin, who makes Cape St Hermogenes and all the land Behring discovered to the sw of it to be a cluster of islands, […] so that every thing inspired us with hopes of finding here a passage Northward without being obliged to proceed any fa[r]ther to the South.[26]

At 1 pm […] steered for the Channell above mentioned in hopes after we were through of finding the land trend away to the Northward, or at least find a passage to the West or sw out to Sea, for we supposed our selves, as it really happened, to be amongst islands and not an inlet of the Continent.[27]

[…] we were in great hopes the Continent here took a remarkable turn in our favour.[28]

 I gave up the design and continued to ply to the southward, or rather to the Westward for the Wind was from that quarter; but we gained nothing.[29]

The revelation of the real nature of the area was thus synonymous with disappointment or utter dejection, even though Cook refused to admit that the Northwest Passage did not exist and left the door open for future discoveries. First, he often tried to draw parallels between the natives of the North Pacific and those of Greenland, pointing out their common characteristics, thus assuming that their ancestors did once sail across the passage: “[…] from Crantz discription of the Greenlander, [they] seem to bear some affinity to them”.[30] Then, Cook had to suspend his explorations around the Bering Strait in October, 1778, as the sea began to ice over, which prevented the ships from going farther north. This led the captain to think that his voyage was not completed and that there would be another possibility to find the passage during the following summer: “The season was now so very far advanced and the time when the frost is expected to set in so near at hand, that I did not think it consistant with prudence to make any farther attempt to find a passage this year”.[31]

This qualified statement also echoed the doubts about the existence of the Passage in the late eighteenth century and a possible failure was even contemplated by the Admiralty: “And, having discovered such Passage, or failed in the attempt, make the best of your way back to England by such Route as you may think best for the improvement of geography and Navigation”.[32] In this respect, Cook’s reflections can be compared with those he had written down at the end of the second voyage, when he had indirectly admitted that the “Southern continent” did not exist – at least, according to the mental image that had prevailed up to then:

I had now made the circuit of the Southern Ocean in a high Latitude and traversed it in such a manner as to leave not the least room for the Possibility of there being a continent, unless near the Pole and out of the reach of Navigation; […] there may be a Continent or large tract of land near the Pole, I will not deny, on the contrary I am of opinion there is, and it is probable that we have seen a part of it.[33]

He did not go as far as denying the existence of the Northwest Passage – perhaps because the season was well advanced and because he thought there was still hope to find it – but a certain continuity thus seemed to prevail in the respective reflections on the actual results of the voyages – or the reflections “so far”, concerning the third, as Cook himself could not complete it.

However, the Northwest Passage could be compared to a “Gordian Knot”: the country that would discover it would establish its dominance in the Pacific area, developing its Asian trade and seizing the legendary and fabulous riches of the continent. As various other countries had their eyes set on the much-coveted passage, the third voyage can also be considered in the light of the geopolitical and commercial concerns of the time – as both remained linked.

3. The third voyage as the reflection of commercial and geopolitical concerns

As was previously mentioned, James Cook had not been the first navigator to undertake such a voyage of discovery, but his was perhaps one of the last opportunities to trace the course of this waterway. Occasionally, his thoughts departed from the extension of the British sphere of influence, rather focusing on the advancement of scientific knowledge, for the welfare of mankind, another echo of the instructions: “[…] so as to make some improvement to Geography and Navigation and at the same time be in a condition to return to the North in further Search of a Passage the ensuing summer”.[34] The “universal” concerns, though, tended to recede in front of the commercial opportunities that the voyage offered – even if the passage itself had not been discovered. The need to map the lands for the purposes of commerce was explicitly mentioned in the instructions: “you are, as far as your time will allow, very carefully to observe the true Situation of such Places, both in Latitude & Longitude; […] and also to survey, make Charts, and take views of, such Bays, Harbours, and different parts of the Coast, […] as may be useful either to Navigation or Commerce”.[35] Cook’s ports of call could become as many stopovers for commercial ships and fur trade was a privileged means to develop intercourse with the natives: “Their articles were the Skins of various animals, such as Bears, Wolfs, Foxes, Dear, Rackoons, Polecats, Martins and in particular the Sea Beaver”.[36] At the same time, companies like the Hudson’s Bay Company or the North West Company already wished to extend their influence over a large part of the North American continent – and the latter even funded Alexander McKenzie’s subsequent voyages of exploration. In numerous entries, Cook’s concerns remained similar and he mentions the importance of trading skins, for instance: “Whereas a trade with Foreigners would increase their wants by introducing new luxuries amongst them, in order to purchas which they would be the more assiduous in procuring skins, for […] here are all the Animals that are found in the Northern parts of the world whose skins are sought after”.[37]

On a larger scale, he laid the emphasis on the importance of raw materials and other natural resources in his detailed descriptions of the natives: “The points of some of their spears or lances, were of Iron shaped into the form of a Bear spear, others were of Copper and a few of bone which the points of their darts, arrows &ca were made of”.[38] The journals suggest that James Cook was undertaking a general survey of the land, in keeping with his reports on the soil, the vegetation and the fauna of the South Pacific islands. Similar reports are to be found in the entries from March to October 1778 as well:

It was perfectly distitute of Wood and even Snow, but was probably covered with a Mossy substance that gave it a brownish cast, in the low ground lying between the high land and the Sea was a lake extending to the se fa[r]ther than we could see.[39]

The low land which joins this Peninsula to the Continent is full of narrow creeks and small ponds of Water […]. Here were a great Many geese and Bustards, but as they were very shy and no sort of Cover it was not possible to get within gun shot of them.[40]

However, the coastline, particularly west of the Bering Straits, was already known to Russian navigators or traders and, behind the commercial concerns, the backdrop of geopolitics is soon to be revealed. Cook is often wary of the possible presence of Russians along the coast: “I will be bold to say that the Russians were never amongst these people, nor carry on any commerce with them, for if they did they would hardly be cloathed in such valuable skins as those of the Sea beaver; the Russians would find some means or other to get them all from them”.[41] The crews of the Resolution and the Discovery even held a cordial meeting with three of them, in October 1778. Cook mentioned that their knowledge of the American coastline proved not to be as good as his and highlighted, in a digression, the advantage of government-funded expeditions: “[…] had not chance and his distresses carried [Bering] to the island which bears his name, and where he died, its probable the Russians would never have thought of making further discover[ie]s on the American Coast, as indeed Government did not for what has been sence done, has been by traders”.[42] The same concerns seem to be running throughout the third voyage as, in the South Pacific, Cook had mentioned previous French expeditions – those undertaken by Kerguelen, in particular –, as well as the aborted wish of the Spaniards to make Tahiti one of their colonies:

They told us these ships came from a country called Rema which undoubtedly must be Lima the Capital of Peru; that the first time they came they built a house and left four men behind them viz. two Priests, a boy or a servant and one Mateama, […] that after a stay of ten Months the same two Ships returned and took them away”.[43]

Such extracts further accounted for the close link between scientific reports, settlements, the goods or gifts offered to the natives and the underlying wish for political expansion, with commerce as a prelude to it. The fact that the Spanish authorities had been instructed to arrest James Cook and his men seemed to give evidence that imperialism ultimately prevailed: “if [Cook’s] ships were encountered (or for some reason came into port in the Americas), they were to be stopped, the ships’ papers examined, and Cook himself fully interrogated”.[44] Reading the third voyage in this perspective sheds light on its expansionist goal and even the name given to a particular land had its importance and echoed the competition between the European powers: “Cook’s decision to name this previously discovered land Cape Prince of Wales was not well received in Russia, but the name has remained on the map”.[45]

After Cook’s untimely death, his journals were given by Captain Clerke to the Russian authorities in Kamchatka and then transmitted to the Admiralty, between five and seven months later. The need to make Cook’s voyage and discoveries known to a larger public seemed to be paramount and could be understood both in a scientific and a political perspective. However, one last element confers to the third voyage a more particular character as, this time, James Cook had probably intended to write a complete book, in the continuity of the publication of the account of the second voyage before he set out to sea again, in July 1776. He wished to imitate explorers like Bougainville, which seems to prove that the joint wishes to relate his voyage and to emphasise it was undertaken for the sake of the British Empire were central to his enterprise. The style of the journals of the third voyage was even different and Cook seemed to privilege the narrative instead of scientific observations and descriptions, even though uncertainty remains whether the contents was later amended or not.

In the compelling book The Course of Empire, written by American historian Bernard DeVoto, the following statement about James Cook is to be found: “He forever destroyed two shining myths, erasing the Southern Continent and the Northwest Passage from the map of human ignorance. He added great stores of knowledge to the intellectual estate of mankind”.[46] The chapter is subtitled “A Myth is killed” but, as far as the Northwest Passage is concerned, it could be possible to state that the myth was rather “re-shaped”. Cook’s third voyage, as a matter of fact, revealed the nature of the Northern Pacific and the Bering Strait area, but the commercial and geopolitical concerns were paramount and often showed through the scientific reports. A few mysteries still surround the third voyage – particularly, Cook’s changing attitude towards the Native populations, as well as towards the crews of both the Resolution and the Discovery – and they might also stem from the tension between exploration and expansion, which was felt more acutely then – this remains a simple hypothesis, though. The decisive character of Cook’s discoveries was soon acknowledged but, as he was sailing across the Pacific, a revolution was already setting astir the eastern part of North America and, in 1783, the Thirteen British Colonies were officially recognised as the independent United States of America. In the coming decades, the need to believe in the existence of a natural waterway between America and Asia – even though the scientific discoveries of the time proved the contrary – was still vivid, but the “Northwest Passage” was now imagined as a river flowing from the heartland to the Pacific. Three subsequent voyages – or attempts of voyage – accounted for the rivalry now opposing the British Empire and the fledgling Republic. First, American adventurer John Ledyard, who had taken part in the third voyage, tried to reach Oregon and cross North America from west to east in 1786, on the advice of Thomas Jefferson – to no avail, as he (Ledyard) was arrested in Russia. Then, Alexander McKenzie undertook two voyages in 1789 and 1792 in an attempt to reach the Pacific from Lake Athabasca, in Canada. Lastly, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, between 1804 and 1806, commissioned by President Jefferson, revealed the persistent wish to discover the fabled passage and, on April 7th, 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis’s entry in the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition proved the continuity with Cook’s voyages, as well as the legendary status that would be his from then on: “Our vessels consisted of six small canoes, and two large pirogues. This little fleet altho’ not quite so rispectable as those of Columbus or Capt. Cook, were still viewed by us with as much pleasure as those deservedly famed adventurers ever beheld theirs”.[47]

Notes de pied de page

  1. ^ Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, ed. Paul Turner, coll. World's Classics, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 285.
  2. ^ It should not be forgotten that James Cook's manuscripts, after they were handed to the Admiralty, were probably amended by Canon John Douglas, who edited the journals of the third voyage in 1784.
  3. ^ Iris Engstrand, 'Setting the Stage: Spain in the Pacific and the Northern Voyages of the 1770s', Arctic Ambitions. Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage, eds. James K. Barnett and David Nicandri, Seattle, University of Washington Press, 2015, p. 45.
  4. ^ Ladan Niayesh, 'From Myth to Appropriation: English Discourses on the Straits of Anián (1566-1628)', The Quest for the Northwest Passage: Knowledge, Nation and Empire, 1576-1806, ed. Frédéric Regard, coll. Empires in Perspective, London, Routledge, 2012, p. 35.
  5. ^ Glyn Williams, 'James Cook and the Northwest Passage: Approaching the Third Voyage', James K. Barnett and David Nicandri (eds.), op. cit., p. 32.
  6. ^ Ibid., p. 23.
  7. ^ Ibid., p. 28.
  8. ^ The Journals of Captain James Cook, ed. J. C. Beaglehole, volume III, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press-The Hakluyt Society, 1967, p. ccxx.
  9. ^ Ibid., p. ccxxi.
  10. ^ Ibid., p. ccxxii.
  11. ^ The Journals of Captain Cook, ed. Philip Edwards, London, Penguin Classics, 1999, p. 434.
  12. ^ Glyn Williams, op. cit., James K. Barnett and David Nicandri (eds.), op. cit., p. 37.
  13. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 475.
  14. ^ Ibid., p. 435.
  15. ^ Ibid., p. 529.
  16. ^ Ibid., p. 549.
  17. ^ Ibid., p. 524.
  18. ^ Ibid., p. 441.
  19. ^ J. C. Beaglehole (ed.), op. cit., p. ccxxiii: "You are also with the consent of the Natives to take possession, in the Name of the King of Great Britain, of convenient Situations in such Countries as you may discover, that have not already been discovered or visited by any other European Power, [...] But if you find the Countries so discovered are uninhabited, you are to take possession of them for His Majesty by setting up proper Marks and Inscriptions as first Discoverers & Possessors."
  20. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 557.
  21. ^ Ladan Niayesh, op. cit., Frédéric Regard (ed.), op. cit., p. 34: "within a week of Drake's return to England in September 1580, he was summoned to court, where he surrendered his log book and chart to the queen. These materials were never published."
  22. ^ Iris Engstrand, op. cit., James K. Barnett and David Nicandri (eds.), op. cit., p. 47.
  23. ^ Philippe Buache, Carte des nouvelles découvertes au nord de la mer du sud tant à l'est de la Sibérie et du Kamtchatka qu'à l'ouest de la Nouvelle France, 1752.
  24. ^ <https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b6700191j> last consulted on April 20, 2020.
  25. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 572.
  26. ^ J. C. Beaglehole (ed.), op. cit., pp. 358-359.
  27. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 565.
  28. ^ Ibid., p. 565.
  29. ^ Ibid., p. 573.
  30. ^ Ibid., pp. 555-556.
  31. ^ Ibid., p. 577.
  32. ^ J. C. Beaglehole (ed.), op. cit., p. ccxxii.
  33. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 414-415.
  34. ^ Ibid., p. 577.
  35. ^ J. C. Beaglehole (ed.), op. cit., p. ccxxiii.
  36. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 540.
  37. ^ Ibid., p. 560.
  38. ^ Ibid., p. 552.
  39. ^ Ibid., p. 576.
  40. ^ Ibid., p. 580.
  41. ^ Ibid., p. 559.
  42. ^ Philip Edwards (ed.), op. cit., p. 584.
  43. ^ Ibid., p. 495.
  44. ^ Iris Engstrand, op. cit., James K. Barnett and David Nicandri (eds.), op. cit., p. 54.
  45. ^ Evguenia Anichtchenko, 'From Russia with Charts: Cook and the Russians in the North Pacific', James K. Barnett and David Nicandri (eds.), op. cit., p. 75.
  46. ^ Bernard DeVoto, The Course of Empire, Boston-New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998 [1952], p. 284.
  47. ^ The Journals of Lewis and Clark, ed. Bernard DeVoto, Boston-New York, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997 [1953], p. 92.

Référence électronique

Pierre-François PEIRANO, « James Cook and the search for the “Northwest Passage”: the stakes and the scope of the third voyage », Astrolabe - ISSN 2102-538X [En ligne], Captain Cook after 250 years: Re-exploring The Voyages of James Cook (Avril 2020), mis en ligne le 24/04/2020, URL : https://crlv.org/articles/james-cook-and-the-search-for-the-northwest-passage-the-stakes-and-the-scope-of-the-third