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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

Von Krusenstern

Von Krusenstern

1803 to 1086

Captain Adam Johann von Krusenstern was appointed to the command of the first Russian round-the-world expedition. The purchase of two ships and the equipment with stores and merchandise for the northwest coast were provided by the Russian American Company. The command of the ships and their crews from navy personnel was the share of the Russian Government. Krusenstern appointed Captain Urey Lisiansky of the Imperial Navy, who had served with him in the British Navy, as second-in-command. He sent Lisiansky and an expert on ship building to Hamburg to buy two ships, but nothing suitable being available, the two ships were bought in London for 17,000 pounds. An additional sum of 5,000 pounds was spent on repairs. One ship, 450 tons and three years old, was named the Nadeshda (Hope); the other, 370 tons and 15 months old, was named the Neva.

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Among those sailing were Dr. Langsdorff and the two sons of Councilor Kotzebue, the Russian writer. Otto von Kotzebue, who served as a cadet, afterwards commanded another Russian expedition. On board the Nadeshda, accommodation was also found for M. Resanov, visiting ambassador to Japan. He carried a letter and presents from the Emperor of Russia to the Emperor of Japan, and his destination shaped the plan of the expedition. The two ships were to separate at the Sandwich Islands, the Nadeshda to take the Ambassador and his suite to Nagasaki in Japan and then to proceed to Kamchatka, the Neva under Lisiansky to sail to the northwest coast of America and deliver goods to the Russian American Company and procure acargo of furs. The ships were to rendezvous the following summer at Canton, where the furs were to be sold and oriental goods obtained.

The ships sailed from Kronstadt on July 19, 1803.4 They doubled Cape Horn on March 3, 1804 and sailed for Nukuhiva in the Marquesas, intending to call at Easter Island if conditions were favorable. The Nadeshda abandoned the Easter Island call, and sighted Hoods Island (Fatuhuku) on May 6. She anchored at Port Anna Maria (Taiohae Bay) in Nukuhiva, and the Neva arrived on May 11. Good descriptions were recorded on the geography of the Washington group and the culture of the Marquesas. The ships left on May 18 and sighted Owaihi (Hawaii) on June 7. After a few days, the Nadeshda sailed to deliver the Ambassador to Japan, but the Neva remained for a time. The rest of the voyage of the Nadeshda was not concerned with Polynesia, but it will be related briefly to complete the record. She sailed first for Awatscha Bay in Kamchatka and anchored in the port of St. Peter and St. Paul on July 15 where some changes were made in the Ambassador's suite. She sailed for Japan on August 30 and, after encountering violent gales, anchored at the entrance to Nagasaki Bay on October 5.

The Ambassador was subjected to various annoyances and delays by the mistrustful Japanese. He was not allowed a house on shore until December 17. Meanwhile a courier had been sent to Jeddo (Tokyo) to inform the Emperor of the Ambassador's arrival. An illustration of the Japanese attitude toward foreign intervention is provided by the following incident. A Japanese in the Ambassador's house cut his throat with a razor. Dr. Langsdorff, who was in the house, attempted to staunch the bleeding but was prevented by the Japanese guard, as the Governor had not been informed. An official was sent for, and the patient was allowed to bleed until the official arrived and sent for a Japanese doctor. Fortunately, the wound was not deep. A plenipotentiary did not arrive from Tokyo until March 30, 1805, and two audiences were arranged with him in April. At the second meeting the following Japanese decisions were made known. The presents and letter from the Emperor of Russia page 71were refused on the ground that their acceptance would involve the sending of a Japanese Ambassador to St. Petersburg with presents for the Emperor of Russia, which would break the law that no Japanese must leave Japan. No Russian ship was to come again to Japan, and any Japanese wrecked in Russia were to be turned over to the Dutch for transport back to Japan. The Russian party were forbidden to give presents or purchase anything in Japan, and they were not to visit or receive visits from the Dutch factor at Nagasaki.

On the other hand, the ship's repairs and provisions were to be charged to the Imperial account; and the Emperor sent as a present, 2,000 sacks of salt each weighing 30 pounds, 100 sacks of rice each weighing 150 pounds, and 2,000 pieces of "silk wadding." The salt and rice were for the crew and the silk wadding for the officers. On April 18, the Nadeshda, with the Ambassador and his suite and the rejected presents, sailed from Nagasaki.

Krusenstern explored the coast and islands north of Japan and made observations on the Ainu at Jesso (Yezo, or Hokkaido) and Aniva Bay, Karafuto. He arrived at St. Peter and St. Paul in June where the Ambassador and Dr. Langsdorff, the naturalist, left the Nadeshda to seek some earlier transport back to Russia. Through July and August further explorations were made, and the ship returned to St. Peter and St. Paul on August 29. The monument to Captain Clerke of Cook's third expedition was renewed, the ship was repaired and provisioned, and Krusenstern sailed in October for Macao. He arrived at Macao on November 20 and waited for the Neva, which arrived with a rich cargo of furs on December 3. After much trouble with Chinese officials and merchants, the cargo of the Neva was sold for 178,000 piastres. The Nadeshda had also collected a small quantity of furs, and these were sold for an additional 12,000 piastres. Of their total sum, 100,000 piastres were accepted in specie and 90,000 in tea. When most of the cargo was on board the two ships, the Chinese officials prohibited them from sailing until orders were received from Pekin. However, with the able assistance of Mr. Drummond, the president of the British East India Company, the restrictions were removed without awaiting permission from Pekin, and the ships sailed for home on February 9, 1806. They sailed round the Cape of Good Hope, and the Nadeshda, which had separated from the Neva, arrived at St. Helena on May 3. A rendezvous at St. Helena had been arranged, but Lisiansky ignored it, to Krusenstern's annoyance. Krusenstern learned that war had been declared between France and Russia, so he sailed round the north of Scotland to avoid meeting French warships. He finally arrived at Kronstadt on August 19, 1806, having circumnavigated the globe in three years and twelve days. Lisiansky, however, by ignoring the arrangement to call in at St. Helena landed at Kronstadt fourteen days before his commander.