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(Voyages from 1607 to 1611).

52. Captain Hudson tries to find a northwest passage to China and the Indies.—When Captain John Smith sailed for Virginia, he left a friend, named Henry Hudson, in London, who had the name of being one of the best sea-captains in England.

Hudson's Hope
Map showing how Captain Hudson hoped to reach Asia by sailing northwest from England.

While Smith was in Jamestown, a company of London merchants sent out Captain Hudson to try to discover a passage to China and the Indies. When he left England, he sailed to the northwest, hoping that he could find a way open to the Pacific across the North Pole or not far below it.

If he found such a passage, he knew that it would be much shorter than a voyage round the globe further south; because, as any one can see, it is not nearly so far round the top of an apple, near the stem, as it is round the middle.

Hudson could not find the passage he was looking for; but he saw mountains of ice, and he went nearer to the North Pole than any one had ever done before.

53. The Dutch hire Captain Hudson; he sails for America.—The Dutch people in Holland had heard of Hudson's voyage, and a company of merchants of that country hired the brave sailor to see if he could find a passage to Asia by sailing to the northeast.

He set out from the port of Amsterdam,[1] in 1609, in a vessel named the Half Moon. After he had gone quite a long distance, the sailors got so tired of seeing nothing but fog and ice that they refused to go any further.

Then Captain Hudson turned his ship about and sailed for the coast of North America. He did that because his friend, Captain Smith of Virginia, had sent him a letter, with a map, which made him think that he could find such a passage as he wanted north of Chesapeake Bay.

1 See map in paragraph 62.

54. Captain Hudson reaches America and finds the "Great River."—Hudson got to Chesapeake Bay, but the weather was so stormy that he thought it would not be safe to enter it. He therefore sailed northward along the coast. In September, 1609, he entered a beautiful bay, formed by the spreading out of a noble river. At that point the stream is more than a mile wide, and he called it the "Great River." On the eastern side of it, not far from its mouth, there is a long narrow island: the Indians of that day called it Manhattan Island.

55. The tides in the "Great River"; Captain Hudson begins to sail up the stream.—One of the remarkable things about the river which Hudson had discovered is that it has hardly any current, and the tide from the ocean moves up for more than a hundred and fifty miles. If no fresh water ran in from the hills, still the sea would fill the channel for a long distance, and so make a kind of salt-water river of it. Hudson noticed how salt it was, and that, perhaps, made him think that he had at last actually found a passage which would lead him through from the Atlantic to the Pacific. He was delighted with all he saw, and said, "This is as beautiful a land as one can tread upon." Soon he began to sail up the stream, wondering what he should see and whether he should come out on an ocean which would take him to Asia.

56. Hudson's voyage on the "Great River"; his feast with the Indians.—At first he drifted along, carried by the tide, under the shadow of a great natural wall of rock. That wall, which we now call the Palisades,[2] is from four hundred to six hundred feet high; it extends for nearly twenty miles along the western shore of the river.

Then, some distance further up, Captain Hudson came to a place where the river breaks through great forest-covered hills, called the Highlands. At the end of the fifth day he came to a point on the eastern bank above the Highlands, where the city of Hudson now stands. Here an old Indian chief invited him to go ashore. Hudson had found the Indians, as he says, "very loving," so he thought he would accept the invitation. The savages made a great feast for the captain. They gave him not only roast pigeons, but also a roast dog, which they cooked specially for him: they wanted he should have the very best.

These Indians had never seen a white man before. They thought that the English captain, in his bright scarlet coat trimmed with gold lace, had come down from the sky to visit them. What puzzled them, however, was that he had such a pale face instead of having a red one like themselves.

At the end of the feast Hudson rose to go, but the Indians begged him to stay all night. Then one of them got up, gathered all the arrows, broke them to pieces, and threw them into the fire, in order to show the captain that he need not be afraid to stop with them.

The Palisades

2 Palisades: this name is given to the wall of rock on the Hudson, because, when seen near by, it somewhat resembles a palisade, or high fence made of stakes or posts set close together, upright in the ground.

57. Captain Hudson reaches the end of his voyage and turns back; trouble with the Indians.—But Captain Hudson made up his mind that he must now go on with his voyage. He went back to his ship and kept on up the river until he had reached a point about a hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. Here the city of Albany now stands. He found that the water was growing shallow, and he feared that if the Half Moon went further she would get aground. It was clear to him, too, that wherever the river might lead, he was not likely to find it a short road to China.

On the way down stream a thievish Indian, who had come out in a canoe, managed to steal something from the ship. One of the crew chanced to see the Indian as he was slyly slipping off, and picking up a gun he fired and killed him. After that Hudson's men had several fights with the Indians.

Hudson on the River

58. Hudson returns to Europe; the "Great River" is called by his name; his death.—Early in October the captain set sail for Europe. Ever since that time the beautiful river which he explored has been called the Hudson in his honor.

The next year Captain Hudson made another voyage, and entered that immense bay in the northern part of America which we now know as Hudson Bay. There he got into trouble with his men. Some of them seized him and set him adrift with a few others in an open boat. Nothing more was ever heard of the brave English sailor. The bay which bears his name is probably his grave.

59. The Dutch take possession of the land on the Hudson and call it New Netherland; how New Netherland became New York.—As soon as the Dutch in Holland heard that Captain Hudson had found a country where the Indians had plenty of rich furs to sell, they sent out people to trade with them. Holland is sometimes called the Netherlands; that is, the Low Lands. When the Dutch took possession of the country on the Hudson (1614), they gave it the name of New Netherland,[3] for the same reason that the English called one part of their possessions in America New England. In the course of a few years the Dutch built (1615) a fort and some log cabins on the lower end of Manhattan Island. After a time they named this little settlement New Amsterdam, in remembrance of the port of Amsterdam in Holland from which Hudson sailed.

After the Dutch had held the country of New Netherland about fifty years, the English (1664) seized it. They changed its name to New York, in honor of the Duke of York, who was brother to the king. The English also changed the name of New Amsterdam to that of New York City.

3 New Netherland: this is often incorrectly printed New Netherlands.

60. The New York "Sons of Liberty" in the Revolution; what Henry Hudson would say of the city now.—More than a hundred years after this the young men of New York, the "Sons of Liberty," as they called themselves, made ready with the "Sons of Liberty" in other states to do their full part, under the lead of General Washington, in the great war of the Revolution,—that war by which we gained our freedom from the rule of the king of England, and became the United States of America.

The silent harbor where Henry Hudson saw a few Indian canoes is now one of the busiest seaports in the world. The great statue of Liberty stands at its entrance.[4] To it a fleet of ships and steamers is constantly coming from all parts of the globe; from it another fleet is constantly going. If Captain Hudson could see the river which bears his name, and Manhattan Island now covered with miles of buildings which make the largest and wealthiest city in America, he would say: There is no need of my looking any further for the riches of China and the Indies, for I have found them here.

4 In her right hand Liberty holds a torch to guide vessels at night.

61. Summary.—In 1609 Henry Hudson, an English sea-captain, then in the employ of the Dutch, discovered the river now called by his name. The Dutch took possession of the country on the river, named it New Netherland, and built a small settlement on Manhattan Island. Many years later the English seized the country and named it New York. The settlement on Manhattan Island then became New York City; it is now the largest and wealthiest city in the United States.

Who was Henry Hudson? What did he try to find? What did the Dutch hire him to do? Where did he go? What did he call the river he discovered? What is said about that river? Tell what you can of Hudson's voyage up the river. What is said about the Indians? Why did Hudson turn back? What did he do then? What is the river he discovered called now? What happened to Captain Hudson the next year? What did the Dutch do? What did they name the country? Why? What did they build there on Manhattan Island? Who seized New Netherland? What name did they give it? What is said of the "Sons of Liberty"? What would Hudson say if he could see New York City now?