On this day : The 28th of August 1609

Henry Hudson Reaches Delaware Bay

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The Age of Discovery produced many intriguing characters whose stories still fascinate, none more so than Henry Hudson, whose beginning and end remain mysterious.

Hudson, probably from London , made several voyages of discovery, though not always as planned. His early preoccupation was to discover a Northeast Passage to India. By 1609 he had no capital left with English merchants, so he found backers in the Netherlands, an act almost certainly treasonous. With a ship, The Half Moon, funded by the Dutch he again sailed North seeking the same goal, but his crew turned ugly when ice blocked their route and Hudson resolved the situation by turning westwards to the New World.

On Friday August 28 1609 Hudson reached what is now called Delaware Bay, but which he unimaginatively named South Bay. He decided it offered no route to the Orient, and so sailed north, finding the river named in his honour on September 12.

The Half Moon’s return voyage took the ship to Dartmouth . Hudson and his English crew members were arrested, the Dutch sailors allowed to carry on to Amsterdam. There is much speculation that Hudson was in the pay of the English government, as although theoretically a traitor he suffered no harm; alternatively he may have been playing a double game with his old employers as well as his new ones. Whatever his allegiance, it was the Dutch who used his intelligence to settle what became New Netherlands; but the English had the last laugh, eventually taking its capital New Amsterdam, which they renamed New York.

Hudson disappeared on his next voyage, set adrift by another mutinous crew in the southern part of Hudson Bay with his son and six sailors.

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