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Henry Hudson

Grade: 6 | Year: 2009

Can you imagine a ship’s crew abandoning their captain in the middle of the ocean? But, it happened in history. Henry Hudson was that ill-fated explorer.

Henry was born on September 12, 1507. He made four voyages in an attempt to discover a northern sea-route from Europe to Asia. Hudson never found such a sea passage, but he sailed farther north than any of the previous explorers. Historians don’t exactly know a lot about Hudson’s life, until 1607 to 1611, when he made the four voyages. In the year 1607, the Muscovy Company hired Hudson to find a northern route to Asia which was then, believed to be shorter than the others. Hudson set out in the ship called the ‘Hopewell’, with his son John and 10 other crewmen. He sailed northeast along the coast of Spitsbergen, but the icebergs forced Hudson to return to England. In 1608, Hudson tried again, but the icebergs blocked the Hopewell once again. In 1609, hired by the Dutch East India Company, he went northeast, but was forced to travel to North America due to the cold weather. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and sailed past North Carolina and briefly explored Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay and Hudson Bay, which he named after himself, and then returned to England because he failed to do the mission. In 1610, a group of English merchants hired Hudson to repeat the mission. Hudson set out again with his son John and 20 crewmen in a ship called the ‘Discovery’. He sailed to North America and came across a body of rough water which was later named Hudson Strait which then led to Hudson Bay. Hudson thought that he had reached the Pacific Ocean and sailed further south onto what is now known as James Bay, but the ship got locked in ice, so they had to spend the winter there, suffering from the cold and hunger. Hudson wanted to continue his explorations, but the crew only wanted to head back home. Fights broke out over food, and Hudson accused some crew members of hoarding. Eventually, a large number of crew members, led by Juet and Greene, decided to revolt. They put the captain, his son and some others into a small boat and set it adrift while the ‘Discovery’ sailed away. None of the abandoned crew was ever seen again. The rest returned to England with reporting hope for the existence of a passage between Hudson Bay and the Pacific Ocean which then led to the establishment of a fur-trading company, called the Hudson`s Bay Co. in 1670.

Dear friends, do you know why Hudson was important? He was an expert mariner and navigator, and also had a lot of experience with the many years he spent at sea. As an able navigator, his social responsibility was to find a new and improved sea-route to Asia. He had therefore been responsible to find the route for the people of England, believing that this task would’ve led to the flow of economic prosperity to the country. Hence, on his shoulders there laid a speck of hope to a prosperous England. However, he was unable to complete the mission, or as far as we know he could not have survived the cold, harsh and lonely winter.

Though his attempts turned out to be repeated failures, his unbeatable optimism and confidence in accomplishing the mission, later led several other sea explorers to ultimately carry out the purpose of the ‘Discovery’. He is therefore one of the most respected and admired sea-explorers who have significantly contributed the success of sea to history.