During almost four hundred years efforts have been made by European
navigators to discover a passage for vessels through the Arctic seas
The stories of Marco Polo
of the magnificent countries in Eastern Asia
and adjacent islands — Cathay
and Zipangi, China
--stimulated desires to accomplish such a passage.
The Cabots [John Cabot
; Sebastian Cabot
(q. v.)] went in the direction of the pole, northwestward, at or near the close of the fifteenth century, and penetrated as far north as 67° 30′, or half-way up to (present) Davis Strait
The next explorers were the brothers Cortereal, who made three voyages in that direction, 1500-02.
In 1553 Sir Hugh Willoughby
set out to find a northwest passage to India
, but was driven back from Nova Zembla
, and perished on the shore of Lapland
In 1576-78 Martin Frobisher
made three voyages to find a northwest passage into the Pacific Ocean
, and discovered the entrance to Hudson Bay
Between 1585 and 1587 John Davis
discovered the strait that bears his name.
made strenuous efforts to discover a northeast passage.
(q. v.) made three voyages in that direction in 1594-96, and perished on his third voyage.
tried to round the north of Europe
in 1607-08, but failed, and, pushing for the lower latitudes of the American
coast, discovered the river that bears his name.
While on an expedition to discover a northwest passage, he found Hudson Bay
, and perished (1610) on its bosom.
In 1616 Baffin
explored the bay called by his name, and entered the mouth of Lancaster Sound
After that, for fifty years, no navigator went so far north in that direction.
In 1720 the Hudson Bay Company sent Captains Knight
to search for a northwest passage to India
They sailed with a ship and sloop, and were never heard of afterwards.
In 1741 Vitus Bering
discovered the strait that bears his name, having set sail from a port in Kamtchatka.
In that region Bering
navigators tried in vain to solve the problem.
Between 1769 and 1772 Samuel Hearne
made three overland journeys in America
to the Arctic Ocean
The British government having, in 1743, offered $100,000 to the crew who should accomplish a northwest passage, stimulated efforts in that direction.
(Lord Mulgrave) attempted to reach the north pole in 1773; and before setting out on his last voyage (1776), Captain Cook
was instructed to attempt to penetrate the polar sea by Bering Strait
He went only as far as 70° 45′. In 1817 Captain Ross
and Lieutenant Parry
sailed for the polar sea from England
; and the same year Captain Buchan
(Sir John) Franklin
went in an easterly direction on a similar errand, namely, to reach the north pole.
At this time the chief object of these explorations was scientific, and not commercial.
went by way of Spitzbergen; but they only penetrated to 80° 34′. Ross
entered Lancaster Sound
, explored its coasts, and Ross
returned with the impression that it was a bay. Parry
did not agree with him in this opinion, and he sailed on a further exploration in 1819.
He advanced farther in that direction than any mariner before him, and approached the magnetic pole, finding the compass of little use. On Sept. 4, 1819, Parry
announced to his crew that they were entitled to $20,000 offered by Parliament for reaching so westerly a point in that region, for they had passed the 110th meridian.
There they were frozen in for about a year.
sailed again in 1821.
Meanwhile an overland expedition, led by Franklin
, had gone to co-operate with Parry
They were absent from home about three years, travelled over 5,000 miles, and accomplished nothing.
They had endured great suffering.
, also, accomplished nothing, and returned in October, 1823.
Other English expeditions followed in the same direction, by land and water.
Sir John Franklin
and others went overland, and Parry
by sea, on a joint expedition, and Captain Beechey
was sent around Cape Horn
to enter Bering Strait
and push eastward to meet Parry
explored the North American
coast, but nothing else was accomplished by these expeditions.
, a whaleman.
and his son, had penetrated to 81° N. lat, in 1806.
His experience led him to advise an expedition with boats fixed on sledges, to be easily dragged on the ice. With an expedition so fitted out. Captain Parry
sailed for the polar waters in 1827.
This expedition was a failure.
was in the polar waters again from May, 1829, until the midsummer of 1833.
The party had been given up as
Another party had started in search of Ross
, explored the north coast of America
, and discovered Victoria Land.
Other land expeditions followed; and one, under Dr. John Rae
, completed a survey of the north coast of the American
continent in the spring of 1847.
Sir John Franklin
yet believed a northwest passage possible.
With two vessels — the Erebus
--each fitted with a small steam-engine and screw-propeller, he sailed from England
May 19, 1845.
They were seen by a whale-ship, in July, about to enter Lancaster Sound
, and were never heard of afterwards.
The British government despatched three expeditions in search of them in 1848. One of them was an overland expedition under Sir John Richardson
, who traversed the northern coast of America
800 miles, in 1848, without finding Franklin
The sea expedition was equally unfortunate.
failed in an overland search in 1850. Three more expeditions were sent out by the British
government in search in 1850; and from Great Britain
five others were fitted out by private means.
One was also sent by the United States government, chiefly at the cost of Henry Grinnell
, a New York merchant.
It was commanded by Lieutenant De Haven
, of the navy.
There were two ships, the Advance
. Dr. E. K. Kane
was surgeon and naturalist of the expedition.
It was unsuccessful, and returned in 1851. Lady Franklin
, meanwhile, had been sending out expeditions in search of her husband, and the British
government and British navigators made untiring efforts to find the lost explorers, but in vain.
Another American expedition, under Dr. Kane
, made an unsuccessful search.
In a scientific point of view, Dr. Kane
's expedition obtained the most important results.
It is believed that he saw an open polar sea; and to find that sea other American expeditions sailed under Dr. I. I. Hayes
, a member of Kane
's expedition, and Capt. Chas. F. Hall
The latter returned to the United States
in 1860, and Dr. Haves
sailed again in 1864, and returned in 1869.
now sent expeditions in that direction.
In 1869 Dr. Haves
again visited the polar waters.
The same year.
and for some time afterwards, several expeditions were sent out from the continent of Europe
Finally, by the help of Congress, Captain Hall
was enabled to sail, with a well-furnished company, in the ship Polaris
, for the polar seas, in June, 1871.
In October Hall
left the vessel, and started northward on a sledge expedition.
On his return he suddenly sickened and died, and the Polaris
returned without accomplishing much.
The passage from the coast of western Europe
, around the north of that continent and of Asia
, into the Pacific Ocean
, was first accomplished in the summer of 1879, by Professor Nordenskjold
, an accomplished Swedish
explorer, in the steamship Vega
She passed through Bering Strait
into the Pacific Ocean
, and reached Japan
in the first week in September.
Thus the great problem has been solved.
, Lieutenant De Long
, an American exploring vessel, was lost on the coast of Siberia
, in 1881.
The most important of the recent expeditions into Arctic legions by Americans
are those of Lieut.
) Adolphus W. Greely
and of Lieut. Robert E. Peary
.), who has made several voyages into northern waters, and in 1900 was still there.
was sent from the United States
in 1881, by the government, charged with establishing a series of stations about the pole for the purpose of observation.
, of his force, succeeded in establishing a station on a small island in 83° 24′ N., and until 1896 this was the most northern point ever reached by an explorer.
's vessel became icebound, and for two years the members of the expedition passed a miserable existence.
The survivors were rescued just as the last six of the expedition were dying of hunger, by Lieutenant Peary
, in charge of two government vessels, sent by the United States
to the relief of Greely
in 1882. Lieutenant Peary
made other voyages to the Arctic
waters in 1895 and 1897. Dr. Fridtjof Nansen
, of Norway
, in 1896, succeeded in getting within 200 miles of the north pole, and returned in safety with all of his companions.
He sailed from Christiania in 1893, and his plan differed much from that of others.
He thought that if he could get his vessel caught in the ice the
current would carry him to the pole.
He reached lat, 86° 15′ N. In 1896 a Swedish explorer, Major Andree
, planned to reach the pole in a balloon, but after making elaborate plans gave up the venture.
On July 12, 1897, however, he embarked again on his enterprise, all conditions being favorable for his success; but up to the end of 1900 nothing reliable had been heard of the expedition, and it was generally believed that the bold voyager had been lost.
In 1889-1900 the Duke
reached lat, 86° 33′ N.