Royal Navy Captain James Cook died on February 14, 1779, after he was stabbed in a scuffle with Hawaiian islanders when he attempted to take the local leader hostage. His death occurred during his third exploratory voyage on the HMS Endeavour.
Cook's third voyage was a failed attempt to find the fabled North-West Passage believed to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. When he could not find the route, he took his two ships and explored the island of Hawaii.
Cook and his crew were the first Europeans to ever see Australia, which Cook named New South Wales and claimed for Great Britain in 1769. He was hoping to locate the southernmost continent, Antarctica, which had not yet been discovered.