February 14, 1779 On his third voyage (1776-1779) around the globe British explorer James Cook was attempting to discovering the Northwest Passage, a sea route that was thought to connect the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans through the Arctic.
However his attempts to sail through the Behring Strait failed, and the Royal Navy captain became increasingly frustrated. Historians believe this led to some unruly behaviour by the crew of HMS Resolution.
After mapping much of the coast of north west America, Cook returned to Hawaii in 1779, landing at Hawaii Island’s Kealakekua Bay.
On an earlier visit it was said that some of the indigenous people of Hawaii believed Cook was an incarnation of local deity Lono.
His expedition stayed for about a month, but as they prepared to leave conflicts and misunderstandings developed between the Europeans and Hawaiians.
Cook attempted to take the King of Hawaii Kalaniʻōpuʻu hostage, as a reprisal for a stolen boat. As Cook’s crew retreated from the beach, there was a scuffle, he was wounded and died on Saint Valentine’s Day 1779.
Also on February 14: The first Serbian uprising against the Ottoman Empire (1804); Official start of US-Saudi diplomatic relationship (1945); Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, the author of ‘The Satanic Verses’ (1989).
Born on February 14: French motorcycle racer Randy de Puniet (1981), American musician Maceo Parker (1943), British film director and writer Alan Parker (1944).