Englishmen and the Discovery of Hawaii

Who Is Responsible for the Discovery of Hawaii?

Captain James Cook's statue in New Zealand Discovery of Hawaii
Captain James Cook’s statue in New Zealand

Captain James Cook, the English explorer, became the first European to discover Hawaii islands on January 18, 1778. Cook was a captain in the Royal Navy, as well as navigator, explorer, and cartographer. Captain Cook’s created detailed maps of Canadian island Newfoundland. Moreover, he went on three trips to the Pacific Ocean, discovered the eastern coastline of Australia and Hawaii. Captain Cook also traveled around New Zealand.

How Did Cook Discover Hawaii?

Captain James Cook was sailing past the island of Oahu with his crew. Then he came across the eastern coastline of Hawaiian Islands. After two days of sailing, Cook landed at the island of Kauai. Captain Cook also came up with the name for the island group he discovered. Cook called Hawaii  the Sandwich Islands in honor of one of his patrons, the earl of Sandwich.

What Did Captain Cook Discover before He Came to Hawaii?

Before he discovered Hawaii, Captain James Cook was a lieutenant on a Royal Navy ship Endeavor. It was back in 1768. Together with his crew, Cook was mapping the course of planet Venus. Traveling for the following three years, Cook has explored New Zealand and Australia. Furthermore, he went with his crew around the globe.

Captain Cook’s Landing in Hawaii

Hawaiians welcomed Cook and his crew. They found the captain’s ships and Europeans’ use of iron intriguing. Englishmen began trading with Hawaiians. Captain Cook and his crew traded metal and iron nails. Consequently, they managed to maintain provisions on the ship. However, neither Cook nor his crew stayed in Kauai for long. After leaving the place, the explorers continued north. They wanted to find the end of the northwestern passage between North Atlantic and Pacific oceans. After one more year of sailing, Cook’s ships returned to Hawaii and docked in the safety of Kealakekua Bay.

Relationship Between Hawaiians and Englishmen

Hawaii, Discovery of Hawaii
Hawaiian arts and crafts

Captain’s ships landed in Hawaii for the second time. Englishmen believed that the local population associates their arrival with some religious symbolism. Cook and his crew arrived at the time of the Makahiki festival. The Makahiki was dedicated to the Hawaiian god of fertility, Lono. Locals saw it as a sign and welcomed and treated them as gods. Englishmen shamelessly abused the hospitality of Hawaiians. However, when one of the crew members passed away, locals realized they were people just like them. This changed the relationships between the two. In the beginning of 1779, Cook wanted to return to England, but one of his ships were damaged during the storm and they had to return to Hawaii.

When Englishmen came back, the Makahiki had ended and nobody was happy to see them. Hawaiians threw rocks at them and stole an item from their ship. While Cook tried to negotiate with the Hawaiian King to return the item, the King was murdered. Locals gathered and attacked Cook and his crew. Many men were killed, including Captain Cook. Once Englishmen went back to the ship, they fired cannons at the locals, killing some of them. Eventually, the ships returned to England.

The discovery of Hawaii by Captain James Cook is an important event in history. However, the discovery was tainted because of how Englishmen tried to exploit Hawaiians.