1 778 Captain James Cook discovered the Sandwich Islands.
1782 Daniel Webster was born.
1912 Captain Robert Scott reached the South Pole. (See December 14th entry.)
Today is Daniel Webster’s birthday. born in 1872, Webster was America’s most awesome public orator. You may recall Stephen Vincent Benet’s story, “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” in which this eloquent speaker argued the case for a man’s soul and won.
Being second best somehow has never meant quite what it should. This thought comes to mind today because on this date in 1912, a great explorer came in second and, was subsequently forgotten. This was the day when British explorer Captain Robert Scott reached the South Pole. It was a heroic feat, made even more memorable because Scott and his party died shortly after reaching their goal. But Scott’s glory was greatly dimmed, because Roald Amundsen had reached the pole a month earlier—and he survived.
Polynesians had been inhabiting the Hawaiian islands since 400 ad. They had sailed from the Marquesa Islands and Tahiti to find a new paradise. But today’s anniversary commemorates another discovery of these inhabited islands. In 1778, British explorer Captain James Cook landed on the Hawaiian Islands and renamed them after his
Mentor. He called them the Sandwich Islands—after the Earl of Sandwich. It got pretty confusing after that. The British called the island group one thing, while its royal kings referred to their land by another. But it was the Americans who later invaded Hawaii, staged a coup, and finally put an end to its sovereignty.