Henry Hudson was an English explorer who, at different times, worked for English or Dutch merchants, attempting to find them a shorter trade route to Asia. The elusive “Northwest Passage”—an Arctic Circle seaway which could link Europe and the Orient—was believed to exist, though had not yet been discovered by European seamen. Henry Hudson made multiple voyages—financed by the Dutch and English merchants—to locate and chart it. The Dutch and the English were competing fiercely to find the route first and establish North American colonies from which to send-back valuable plunders. At different times, traders from both countries would finance a trip, hiring Hudson as their captain.
On an earlier trip, under the Dutch flag, Hudson had found the mouth of (what we now call) The Hudson River. This “discovery” of the river and Manhattan Island prompted the Dutch settlement (and subsequent development) in the area, called Nieuw Amsterdam.
On his voyage of 1610 and 1611, under the English flag, Hudson found himself much further north, in what is now Canada. Excitement amongst the crew grew as they pushed farther than they had ever done before. But winter set-in, the boat became trapped in the ice of James Bay, and they company was forced to move to land for the duration of the winter.
When the winter had passed and the ice had melted, Hudson was determined to push-on. Much of his crew, however, had another plan; they wanted to return home to England.
On this day in 1611, most of the crew of Hudson’s ship, Discovery, mutinied—setting Hudson, his teenaged son, and seven loyal crew members adrift in Hudson Bay in a small, open boat. The small group, desperate to return to the mother ship, rowed furiously, following Discovery. When the mutineers grew tired of the chase, they unfurled Discovery’s sails and pulled ahead. Hudson and the other castaways were never seen again.
The little metal boat, pictured above, was made by the Louis Marx Company of New York City in the 1920’s or 1930’s.