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FRANKLIN, Sir John, English explorer, born at Spilsby, Lincolnshire, 16 April 1786; died in the arctic regions, near lat. 69° 37' N., ion. 98° 4' W., 11 June 1847. He was destined for the Church, but his father yielded to the boy's desire to become served on board the "Polyphemus," and was at, the battle of Copenhagen, 2 April 1801. Two months later he joined the "Investigator," and was commissioned by the English government to explore and map the coasts of Australia. After nearly two years spent in this service, he sailed for home in the store ship "Porpoise"; but that vessel was wrecked, 18 August 1803, on a reef about 200 miles from the coast of Australia, where Franklin and his companions remained for fifty days. He was finally rescued and carried to England, where he joined the ship-of-the-line "Bellerophon," and in 1805 took part in the battle of Trafalgar. He served as 2d lieutenant in the " Bedford" on the coast of the United States during the war of 1812'15 and commanded the boats of the " Bedford" in a fight with the U. S. gunboats at New Orleans, one of which he boarded and captured. He was wounded in this engagement, and for his gallantry was made a 1st lieutenant.
In 1818, the British government having fitted out an expedition to attempt the passage to India by crossing the polar sea to the north of Spitzbergen, Franklin was appointed to the command of the "Trent," one of the two vessels of the expedition, the other, the "Dorothea," being commanded by Captain Buehan. After passing lat. 80° N. the " Dorothea" received so much damage from the ice that her immediate return to England was decided on. Franklin begged to be permitted to continue the voyage with the " Trent" alone, but Captain Buehan would not consent, his vessel being almost in a sinking condition. In 1819 he was appointed to the command of an expedition to travel overland from Hudson's bay to the Arctic ocean, through Rupert's Land, and explore the coast of America eastward from the Coppermine River, while Lieutenant Parry was dispatched with two vessels to Lancaster sound.
The expedition wintered the first year on the Saskatchewan River, and was fed by the Hudson's bay company ; the second winter was spent on the "barren grounds," the party subsisting on game and fish procured by their own exertions, or purchased from their native neighbors. In the following summer the expedition descended the Copperinine River, and surveyed a considerable extent of the seacoast to the eastward. Franklin returned to England in 1822. Shortly after his arrival he was made a post captain, and elected a fellow of the Royal society. In 1825 he submitted a "plan for an expedition overland to the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and thence by sea to the northwest extremity of America, with the combined object also of surveying the coast between the Mackenzie and Coppermine rivers." The proposition was accepted, and he was appointed to superintend the expedition.
He embarked at Liverpool, 16 February 1825, descended the Mackenzie River, and traced the coastline through thirty-seven degrees of longitude, from the mouth of the Coppermine River, where his former survey began, to near the 150th meridian, and approached within 160 miles of the most easterly point attained by Captain Beechey, who was cooperating with him from Behring's straits. (See BEECHEY, FREDERICK WILLIAM.)
In 1829 he was knighted, and received the degree of D. C. L. from Oxford University, and the gold medal of the Geographical society of Paris. His next official employment was on the Mediterranean station in 1830, in command of the "Rainbow." In 1836 he was made governor of Tasmania, in which office he continued till 1843. He was a very popular governor, and originated and carried out many measures of importance to the west passage. The ships chosen were the "Erebus" and "Terror," which were fitted out in the strongest and most complete manner, and manned by picked crews, amounting, officers and men, to 138 persons, with a transport ship to convey additional stores as far as Disco in Greenland. They sailed from Sheerness, 19 May 1845. Franklin's orders were to return in 1847.
He was last seen by a whaler in Baffin bay, 26 July 1845, and passed his first winter in a cove between Cape Riley and Beechey island. In 1848, no tidings of the expedition having reached England, the anxiety of the public led to the fitting out of several expeditions in search of him. Between 1848 and 1854 about fifteen expeditions were sent out by England and America in the hope of rescuing, or at least finding traces of, the missing explorers. In 1854, Dr. Rae, ill conducting an exploring party of the Hudson's bay company, found some relics of the party. After long and persistent endeavors on the part of Lady Franklin, of the British government, and of private explorers, the mystery was finally solved by the expedition of McClintock ill 1859, sent out by Lady Franklin in 1857. He discovered, on the shore of King William's Land, a record deposited in a cairn by the survivors of Franklin's company, dated 25 April 1848, saying that Sir John died 11 June 1847; that the ships were abandoned 22 April 1848, when the survivors, 105 in number, set out for Great Fish river.Many relics were found of this party, who perished, one by one, on their southward journey, after leaving their vessels. Further intelligence was gained by the Stewart expedition in 1854, which found shoes, cooking utensils, etc., among the Esquimaux, bearing the Franklin mark. The natives declared that the party died of starvation.
It appears that to Sir John belongs the honor of being the first to discover a northwest passage, and this is awarded him in the inscription on the monument erected to him in Waterloo place, London, in 1860. He attained the rank of rear admiral. See Captain F. L. MeClintock, "Narrative of the Fate of Sir John Franklin" (London and Boston, 1860); Captain S. Osborn, "The Career, Last Voyage, and Fate of Sir John Franklin" (London, 1860); also the works of Kane, Richardson, and Inglefield. The titles of the works published by Sir John are "Captain John Franklin's Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, 1819'22, with an Appendix on various Subjects relating to Science and Natural History" (London, 1823); and " Captain John Franklin's Narrative of a Second Expedition to the Shores of the Polar Sea, 1825'7" (Philadelphia, 1828, and London, 1829).•
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