THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY HUDSON
Just what does one have to do to get a river named after him? Henry Hudson knew. Read on to see how this famous navigator earned the honor.Henry Hudson was a man on a mission. Hudson was obsessed with finding a passage to the Orient via the North Pole. He made four attempts at it.
He sailed farther north than anyone else had done during that time.
Hudson’s first recorded voyage was in 1607 on the Hopewell. He theorized that due to the constant sun, the ice at the North Pole would melt and he would find open sea and his Orient passage. He did not find open sea, but he did find whales. This would lead to the launch of the whaling industry and the slaughter to near extinction of the gentle sea giants.
Three months later, he was back at the helm of the Hopewell, this time searching for his passage through the frigid waters north of Russia. He steered the ship through the icy waters without incident but was unable to get past the island of Novaya Zamlya.
Undeterred, he was ready to try again but his crew threatened mutiny. Worst of all he lost his sponsor – the Muscovy Company.
Hudson needed financing to continue his exploits, but no one in England was interested. He went to the Dutch – England’s rivals – and they agreed to hire him to find his northeast passage.
He sailed the Half Moon on the same path he had taken on the second Hopewell trip. Instead of continuing north, as his contract ordered him to do, he headed for the New World.
Hudson explored the northeast coast of North America and found himself in the wide mouth of a river near the land we now call New York. He hoped the river would lead him to the Pacific, but had to again return home without having found a way to the Orient.
But this time, he would record the European discovery of Canada and New York. Hudson called the river the “River of Mountains.” The natives who lived nearby called it “Muhheakunnuk” (great waters constantly in motion).
When he got back to England, he was arrested for sailing under another nation’s flag. Despite that, he got support from an English backer for another trip.
The Discovery set sail in 1610. Discovery sailed through Arctic waters north of modern Quebec and into what we now call the Hudson Bay. The ship became stuck in shallow water and rocks. Unable to travel further or return home, the crew endured a harsh winter and even harsher natives, eating moss and frogs to survive.
By spring, Hudson was ready to sail again, but with food short and crew members sick, the others were ready to go home. Crew member Robert Juet, who had sailed on Hudson’s three earlier voyages, led a mutiny.
In June of 1611, the crew put Hudson, his son Robert and their loyalists on a small boat and set it loose in the open Arctic water. Hudson vanished from sight.
Though Henry Hudson never found his elusive Oriental passage, he was a pioneering explorer whose place in history is set forever.
By JASMIN K. WILLIAMS