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Cook, Captain James (1728–1779)

  • By: Susanna Servello
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Captain James Cook was a navigator, explorer, and cartographer whose fame is essentially due to his travels to the Pacific Ocean. His origins were humble, and he achieved his success thanks to his passion and insatiable thirst for adventure. The explorations led by him contributed enormously to the development of geographical knowledge and gave birth, in the following century, to interest in the new anthropological area of study.

After spending his childhood working in a grocery and yearning for the sea, in 1756, when the Seven Years’ War began, Cook enlisted in the Royal Navy. His map of the Saint Lawrence River played a role in the British victory in Quebec. Due to his abilities, Cook was charged with the topographic survey of the coastline and ...

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