A brief understanding of the discoveries of a 17th century English explorer, Henry Hudson.
|16 December 2013
Born in England in the 1560’s or 70’s, not much is actually known about Henry Hudson’s early life. His first voyage began in 1607for the English Muscovy Company. The goal of this mission was to find a sea route to the North Pole, and it was unsuccessful. He did, however, record pods of whales at Spitzbergen Island, which greatly helped England’s whaling industry. His voyage lasted a little less than a year. Three months after this voyage, Hudson would sail again on the same ship as before, The Hopewell, this time in search of a Northeast Passage. However, he got trapped in ice, and was forced by his crew to travel straight home. This journey also lasted around a year. While these voyages were interesting, Hudson’s important voyages were his third and fourth trips.
Returning to England with no discoveries, English companies refused to hire Hudson for another journey. Instead he traveled to the Netherlands, who hired him to search for the Northeast Passage again in 1609. In fear of mutiny, Hudson instead ignored his contract and traveled to the New World in search of a Northwest Passage, where the waters were warmer. He reached a river on the Northeast coast of America, now known as the Hudson River, and believed if he sailed far enough he could reach the Pacific. However after 150 miles of traveling, he could not continue and was forced to head home on his ship, the Half Moon. This trip is, however, an accomplishment because it was the first European recording of what is now New York. Like the others, this journey lasted about a year.
His fourth and final journey was sailed on the Discovery for England, who was outraged at his serving of the Dutch. He was hired by the East India Company to find the Northwest Passage. They left English port in April, 1610. The journey started with fights among the crew, and they only got worse as the journey went on. Eventually, Hudson reached the area he wanted to explore, by Hudson Straight, though he was not the first to discover it. They then traveled south into Hudson Bay, where the ship could easily capsize with the strong currents and many floating icebergs. By the fall of the year, they were trapped in the southern section of the Bay, and were forced to spend the winter. Many crew members got scurvy, were freezing, and starving by the time the ice melted and they could sail again. While Hudson wanted to keep exploring, the crew members demanded to go home. They were short on food, and Hudson accused sailors of hoarding, who accused him as well. Fights continued to brew between captain and crew until a mutiny occurred. Hudson, along with his son John and a few other loyal crew members were cast adrift in Hudson Bay with no resources. This boat of castaways was never found again. Hudson’s predicted death date is June 22nd, 1611. Only eight of his 23 original crew members of this journey made it back to England.
While all his trips were not successful in the way he had hoped, Henry Hudson did make some valuable discoveries that would later lead to further exploring of America.