- On 04/12/2008
- In General Maritime History
By Tom Galusha
In 1779, English sailors attempted to hold a Hawaiian chief hostage until a stolen boat was returned.
Fearing for their king, Hawaiians crowded the beach everywhere, the men carrying weapons and wearing war mats. To avoid bloodshed, the captain of the Resolution gave up the "enterprise."
But sailors fired on canoes attempting to leave the bay, apparently without the captain's orders. Learning that a chief had been killed, enraged Hawaiians menaced the captain, who fired his pistol.
The first barrel, loaded with small shot, could not penetrate the Hawaiian's mat armor; the other barrel, loaded with ball, killed a Hawaiian.
The incensed natives attacked. At the water's edge the captain called out for the men to cease firing.
Stabbed in the back, he fell with his face in the water. This was the tragic end of Capt. James Cook, who made the European discovery of Hawaii, on his third voyage.