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By Charles J. Shields

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Cook’s instructions were to travel south to Cape Circumcision and find out if it was part of a larger continent. If so, he was to take possession in the name of the king of Britain. If it was not part of a continent, then he was to sail as far south as possible and circumnavigate the area, looking for a way in. When the ice and weather proved too harsh, he could turn north again. Cook Ch. 5 44 11/25/08 3:08 PM James Cook Page 44 and the Exploration of the Pacific On this voyage, Cook would have the advantage of navigating with a new instrument called the chronometer—a sea clock.

In Tahiti the natives and the visiting English sailors were able to live comfortably side by side. 4 T he Tahitians cautiously greeted Cook and his men. They were becoming used to the sudden arrival of white strangers. The first European to visit Tahiti had been the British sea captain Samuel Wallis in 1767. He claimed the island for Britain. The next year, a French navigator named Louis-Antoine de Bougainville arrived at Tahiti and claimed it for France. (Generally, the empire-building 31 Cook Ch.

The summer before, the Nootka had been a nuisance by robbing his ships. Cook resorted to a method he had used before. With nine armed marines, he came ashore on February 14, 1779. Cook demanded that Chief Kalei’opu’u come with him as a hostage until the boat was returned. Normally, this maneuver was harmless, as Cook remained on good terms with native people. But this time, the Hawaiians’ patience had run out. As Kalei’opu’u accompanied Cook to the beach, his wife rushed to him, pleading with him not to go.

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