How did Cook’s Endeavour voyage change Australia forever?
Investigation 5: The captain
5.2 Guidelines for the voyage given to Cook
Before he left on his Endeavour voyage, James Cook was given some ‘hints’ by the president of the Royal Society, James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton. These hints were intended to guide Cook and his crew on all aspects of the voyage including how they should relate to and behave towards the people of the lands they met.
Read some of the hints given to Cook by Lord Morton about Aboriginal people (referred to as ‘Natives’).
‘To exercise the utmost patience and forbearance with respect to the Natives of the several Lands where the ship may touch.
To check the petulance of the Sailors, and restrain the wanton use of Fire Arms.
To have it still in view that sheding the blood of those people is a crime of the highest nature: They are human creatures, the work of the same omnipotent Author, equally under his care with the most polished European, perhaps being less offensive, more entitled to his favor.
They are the natural, and in the strictest sense of the word, the legal possessors of the several Regions they inhabit.
No European Nation has a right to occupy any part of their country, or settle among them without their voluntary consent.
Conquest over such people can give no just title; because they could never be the Agressors.’
Lord Morton, Hints to Cook, Banks and Solander, 1768
1. Five of the hints are in the grey boxes on the left below. Drag the meanings in the pink boxes down so that they are next to the correct hint.
2. What is the main message that Lord Morton gave Cook about how to treat Aboriginal people?
3. Why do you think he gave these ‘hints’ to Cook?
Cook had other, ‘secret instructions’, from King George III and the Admiralty. Part of these instructions said:
‘You are also with the Consent of the Natives to take Possession of Convenient Situations in the Country in the Name of the King of Great Britain: Or: if you find the Country uninhabited take Possession for his Majesty by setting up Proper Marks and Inscriptions, as first discoverers and possessors.’
By the command of their Lordships
4. Do these instructions differ from those given by Lord Morton? Explain why or why not.
Now read this entry Cook made in his journal after leaving the Australian coastline.
‘Notwithstand[ing] I had in the Name of his Majesty taken posession of several places upon this coast I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took posession of the whole Eastern Coast from … Latitude [38° South] down to this place by the Name of New South Wales together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the said coast after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answerd by the like number from the Ship.’
Lieutenant James Cook’s journal, 22 August 1770
5. Which instructions did Cook carry out, Lord Morton’s or King George III and the Admiralty’s? Why do you think he chose to follow one rather than the other?
6. Did Cook have the ‘consent of the Natives’ to take possession of the east coast of Australia?
7. Was Australia uninhabited when the Endeavour arrived?