Captain Cook and the Islands

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The Captain James Cook stamp was issued on January 20, 1978.

The relationship between Hawaii and the western world began with the arrival of Captain James Cook in the late 18th century. This 13-cent stamp depicts Cook’s ships Discovery and Resolution in Kealakekua Bay, Hawaii - the location of Cook’s arrival to the island. This stamp was issued in 1978, approximately 200 years after Cook’s arrival in Hawaii.

The islands of Hawaii had been isolated from Europe and much of the western world when Captain Cook landed on the island of Kauai in January of 1778; it was the first contact among Europeans and Polynesians. Cook called the islands the “Sandwich Islands” after one of his sponsors, John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

The initial contact between the two peoples began as a peaceful meeting. However, violence later erupted when an incident occurred in which Polynesians stole one of Cook’s small boats, causing Cook to retaliate by taking a Hawaiian chief and holding him for ransom. Fighting broke out and Captain Cook was killed on Saint Valentine’s Day in 1779.