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While discovery has been longest baffled in the North, it there gained its first victory in America, for the sea kings of Norway had landed on American shore before the days of Columbus. In the year 1000, a Norwegian, with a crew of Icelanders, landed on the coast of Massachusetts, which they called Vinland. Iceland's colonies, however, perished and her prosperity ceased, and the records of her discovery were lost. In 1389, the Zeni, two Venetians, penetrated to the Northern regions, but without material result. The Cabots, however, were the first Northern navigators with a fixed purpose in view, viz.: the discovery of the North-West Passage. They penetrated to 67° 30' North in 1497. Sir High Willoughby, who was sent by the Muscovy Company, in 1553, to find a north-east passage to India, was frozen to death with his crew at the mouth of the Arzina, in Lapland. James Frobisher, who journeyed north three times, in 1576-'78, discovered Frobisher Strait, and the entrance to Hudson's Bay. In 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, a firm believer in a north-west passage, had a series of adventures in endeavoring to solve the problem. Then, in 1585-'88, Davis made his voyages, discovering the Strait which bears his name. Wm. Barentz, the Dutch navigator, made three voyages in 1594-'96, perishing himself near the Icy Cape.
Next, Henry Hudson appears. Following out his order from the Muscovy Company, he "steered direct for the North Pole," reaching 81° 30', to return with a firm belief that a passage could not be found by the west. The next year and the next, he sailed forth, hoping still to find an eastward passage, and discovering instead the New-York Bay. The next year he discovered Hudson's Bay, and wintered on one of its islands. The Spring brought famine and a mutiny, and Hudson perished on his home journey. Hudson's Bay was now accepted as the entrance to the Pacific Ocean, and within the next five years numerous expeditions were made into it. In 1616, Baffin explored the bay called after him, making trustworthy surveys.
Then the Russians undertook to find the wished-for passage, but met only with disappointment. Behring died at sea, and his vessels were wrecked; Shalaroff died of starvation; Andrejeff and Billings contended with the elements in vain. Von Wrangell and Anjou organized sledge expeditions, penetrated to lat. [70°?] 51' N., and reported an open sea, which put an end to their journey.
Henceforth the North has been explored chiefly by the British and Americans. In 1743 the British Parliament offered a reward of £20,000 to the crew which should accomplish a north-west passage by way of Hudson's Bay. During 1769-72 Mr. Hearne, in three overland journeys, discovered the Coppermine River. In 1773 Capt. Phipps (Lord Mulgrave) started out with instructions to reach the Pole, but did not go so far as Hudson had. Parliament extended their offer so as to include [[italics]] any [[/italics]] northern passage, and promised £5,000 to the crew which should penetrate to within 1° of the Pole. In 1789, Mackenzie, by land, discovered the river named after him. In 1818, the expeditions of Capt. Ross and Lieut. Parry, and Capt. Buchan and Sir John Franklin, set sail. The former entered Lancaster Sound, which Ross believed to be a bay and Parry what it really was. Running up to the mouth of Barrow's Strait, they reached the mouth of Prince Regent's Inlet, and had passed beyond the limits reached by former navigators. The compass lost its power, and they thought they could reach the Pole. They passed the 110th meridian of longitude, but the ice prevented any further progress. Wintering on Melville Island, they returned home in the Fall of the next year. Starting again in 1821, Ross was to meet the expedition with which Franklin was connected and cooperate with [[unreadable]] of hardships, however yielded not the wished for discovery. Again four expeditions were fitted out. The first, consisting of two ships under Parry, was to look for the Arctic Sea byway of Prince Regent's Isle. The second, under Franklin, was to descend Mackenzie River to the sea, one ship then going East and one West. Capt. Buckly was to go round the Horn, through Behring Strait, and wait for Franklin. A fourth expedition was to go to Repulse Bay, cross Melville Isthmus, and survey the coast. Every one of these expeditions was unsuccessful.
In 1806, Mr. Scoresby, a private discoverer, tried to reach the Pols on sledges. He and his men endured terrible hardships, became snow blind and had to pursue their journey wholly by night. In five days they made but ten miles, the ice moving south as they moved north; to advance 172 miles they traveled 292, and only succeeded in reaching 80° 45'. This was the first attempt to travel over the ice.
In 1829, an expedition fitted out by Sir Felix Booth was commanded by Capt. Ross. A steamer was used, with which he reached within 200 miles of Franklin's limit. In April, 1831, Capt. Ross, on a sledging expedition, fixed the position of the true magnetic pole at lat. 70° 5' 17'', long. 96° 46' 45'' W. Ross and his crew were compelled to abandon their vessel, and, after incredible hardships, were picked up by a ship, after having been given up for lost for two years. Back's crew left England in 1833, to make an overland search for Ross, but the expedition was without practical results. At the same time the Hudson Bay Company sent out two men, Dease and Simpson, who descended Mackenzie Rive,r reached Franklin's furthest point, and found an open seas beyond Victoria Land. The American coast along the Polar Sea was now discovered, and the main question was, could ships pass between Boothia and the main land. To settle this the Hudson Bay Company sent out Dr. John Rae in 1846, who in the next year ascertained that Boothia was part of the continent. This destroyed what had been considered the most plausible theory of the North-West Passage.
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Next came the expedition of Franklin, who, on the 19th of May, 1845, sailed with the ships Erebus and Terror, the crews numbering 138 men. They were last seen by a whaler on the 6th of the following July, near the center of Baffin's Bay. In 1848 three expositions were sent out for him, but without result. In 1849, Raw explored the shores of Wollaston, but found no traces of him. It was now believed in England that Sir John was ice-bound west of Melville Island, and £20,000 was offered to any ship rendering him assistance. Sir James Ross sailed in May, 1848. Then three more expeditions were fitted out. In 1850, the Lady Franklin sailed, and in the same year the United States Government sent out the Advance and Resolute, under Lieut. Haven. There were now eleven vessels in the northern waters. Ross reported that the party had been murdered in Wostenholm Sound. Lady Franklin then sent out the Isabel, but it made no discovery. In 1852, Sir Edward Belcher sent out five vessels. The next year, Dr. Kane sailed under the patronage of Mr. Grinnell of New-York, Mr. George Peabody, and other gentlemen of wealth. The details of Dr. Kane's efforts are still fresh in the memory of all. Unsuccessful in the prime object of the search, he spent two Winters in the North, then left his vessel, and reached the Danish settlements. He was found at Upernavik by an expedition sent out by the United States, and returned home in the Fall of 1855, soon to die from the effects of the sufferings he had passed through. It remained with Sir Francis L. McClintock, however, to solve the problem of Franklin's fate. In 1857 the screwsteamer Fox was fitted up at Lady Franklin's expense and placed under McClintock's command. Sailing through Barrow's Strait, he passed round North Somerset and and Prince of Wales Land, and, finding a frozen barrier, went into Winter quarters at Port Kennedy. From this place numerous sledge journeys were made. McClintock himself, traveling south, was told of a ship that was sunk off the N. W. shore of King William's Island some years before; that the crew went away to a great river, and that all died of starvation. Continuing his journey, McClintock found a bleached skeleton near Cape Herschel, and near Cape Felix a ruined hut and three tents. A large cairn was found at Point Victory a few days after, and lying among some stones that had fallen from it, was a tin case containing the records of the lost expedition. These stated that Franklin died June 11, 1847. Macclintock's expedition, beside making this great discover, proved Sir John Franklin to have been the discover of the North-West Passage, and received from the British Government the promised reward.
Dr. Hayes, Wm. Godfrey, and Capt. Hall are the three latest American adventurers. The last named sailed on his former expedition May 29, 1860, returning in August, 1862. His expedition was gotten up solely by his own tireless exertions and the voluntary assistance of his own countrymen. He found many relics of former explorers, and believes that with his already large experience he can gain a more satisfactory reward in his coming efforts.
In the mean time various European vessels have been sent north, but all have failed to reach a higher latitude, except the Hansa, one of the ships belonging to the Peterman expedition, which sailed from Bremerhaven, June 15, 1869. Her voyage was full of peril; she sunk in lat. 70° 50' N.; her crew took refuge on an ice cake, on which they lived 193 days; then taking to the boats, they reached the island of Idluidlick, and in one year, less two days, from the time of their departure, were in Bremen.
No particulars have been received of the expedition sent by the Russian Geographical Society to the northeast coast of Siberia. The projected voyage of Capt. Lambert of the French Navy was given up on account of the war, and Capt. Sherrer Osborn, who proposed an expedition, received no encouragement from the British Government. A Swedish expedition, sent out some time since, has not yet returned.
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