Great Britain

Captain Henry Hudson & The Quest for Asia

Very few people are aware of the impact of Captain Henry Hudson in American history. Even down to names of landmarks, the English navigator’s name holds weight: Henry Hudson trail, Henry Hudson route, Henry Hudson bridge and, perhaps more importantly, the 1991 Bruce Willis caper Hudson Hawk.

His claim to fame is in some sense a “failure”. But this failure was a significant reason for settlement of what is now considered “the greatest country in the world”.

1972 Captain Hudson mint stamp from Stanley Gibbons

His birth date remains ambiguous but most historians place it at around the end of the 16th century. All that is known about the explorer’s early life is that he cut his teeth learning from fishermen and sailors; making his warranted commander status before the age of 30 all the more impressive.


Before the space race, countries competed on the high seas to reach important trade ports. In particular, Asia was considered an important destination for commercial purposes. All of Captain Hudson’s journeys were sponsored for this purpose specifically.

The first 3 trips were technically unfruitful, but paved the way for hunting opportunities, passages to Greenland and the Arctic Ocean.

The fourth trip, however, was sponsored by the Dutch East India Company. As commander of the Half Moon, he was once again hampered by icy weather. This time, however, he decided to head west towards the Orient.


Reaching land in roughly July 1609, he pulled ashore of what is now known as Nova Scotia. After altercations with Native Americans  took a toll & led to burying a crew member, he traversed the river that later came to bear his name.

En route back to the Netherlands for the Dutch East India Company, English authorities seized his ship on the charge of exploration for another country. He would eventually find investment from English sponsors for the (fatal) journey that discovered the Hudson Strait & the Hudson Bay.

After his death, many European settlers followed Hudson’s passages towards North America. This included the Dutch, who based their New Amsterdam colony at the mouth of the Hudson River.

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