"Life in the brig cropped" by Engraving by J.M. Butler based on a sketch by Dr. Kane - Arctic Explorations, by Elisha Kent Kane, published in Philadelphia in 1856. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Life_in_the_brig_cropped.jpg#/media/File:Life_in_the_brig_cropped.jpg

From Surgeon To Explorer: The Story Of Elisha Kent Kane

Elisha Kent Kane was a 19th-century medical officer who is most well known for his exploration of the Artic and the book he wrote of his adventure. He was sent on a daring mission to rescue an Arctic explorer by the name of Sir John Franklin.

Franklin was an officer in the British Royal Navy. He led several expeditions into the Arctic. On his last, he was attempting to map uncharted lands in the Canadian Arctic. Unfortunately, he and his entire crew would perish before they could complete this mission. Kane would never come to learn the truth of the Franklin expedition, but he did make many notable discoveries along the way.

The Early Life Of Elisha Kane

Before Kane was known as an Arctic explorer, he was known as a prominent Navy surgeon. He came from a well-to-do family of judges and even a Civil War general. He hoped to maintain the family’s honor by graduating from medical school in 1842 to become an Assistant Surgeon in the American Navy.

People were already beginning to talk about Kane before he joined the Navy. He had already been published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences at the age of 22. During the second year of his stay at university, he came down with rheumatic fever, which fueled his desire to learn all that he could about the medical world.

His hopes in joining the Navy were that he would get to travel the world, which he did. He led a life in the Navy that would be considered exciting and memorable by most’s standards, but he often found the work tedious. It also left him gravely ill in many cases.

His travels with the Navy would take him to Rio de Janeiro, Macao, India, Athens, China, Philippines, and Madeira. In the Philippines, he would descend into the crater of a volcano known as the Taal. The volcano is active today but was dormant at the time. He journeyed into the crate to bring back water samples for his team. The fumes were so severe that in nearly left him unconscious, in which case he likely wouldn’t have escaped alive.

From 1850, Kane traveled as a surgeon on the first expedition to the Arctic to search for Sir John Franklin. They were able to discover his first winter camp, but nothing more. They returned unsuccessfully in 1851, but Kane was already planning a second expedition.

The Love Of Elisha Kane.

Elisha Kane’s love life was always shrouded in mystery. Despite having led many brave and daring adventures, Kane still depended heavily on his parent’s approval and they still played important roles in his life. When he met the woman he would eventually marry he struggled to keep it a secret from his parents for a long time because he believed they would not approve.

It was in 1852, a year before he departed to the Arctic a second time, that he met Margaret Fox. Margaret was a part of a group of three sisters, the Fox sisters, who were famous for their spirit rapping and seances. Kane believed that the sisters were frauds who were putting on an act, but he thought he could reform the middle sister, Margaret.

The two would exchange gifts in secrecy for many months. They made secret plans to be engaged, but Kane would later back out of the deal still afraid of his parent’s disapproval. He would head to the Arctic a year later and promised Margaret they would be married after he returned.

The Second Expedition To The Arctic.

The Second Grinnell Expedition was financed by Henry Grinnell and launched in 1853. Their goal was to determine what happened to Franklin and his crew. This time, it was Elisha Kane who led the expedition. During this time, the team would explore many uncharted areas of Greenland.

It’s unlikely that he knew he would later be considered one of the fathers of Arctic expedition because of this mission. The crew explored more than 960 miles of unexplored land and set a new record for northern exploration. They collected a variety of information on the landscape and even found the Polar Sea.

In terms of finding Franklin, the mission was a failure. However, Kane returned to New York years later as a hero. Three men from his crew were lost during the expedition. He would go on to write a two-volume book on his journey that inspired a love for the Arctic in many young explorers of the time.

Kane and Fox were never officially married though she did claim the two were married in secrecy. Kane traveled to Cuba in bad health where he would later die in 1857. He died as an American hero who inspired courage and curiosity in all who followed.

About The Author: Jonathan Leger is a small business owner and personal development enthusiast. He also runs a popular question and answer site with a section dedicated to travel topics.

"Life in the brig cropped" by Engraving by J.M. Butler based on a sketch by Dr. Kane - Arctic Explorations, by Elisha Kent Kane, published in Philadelphia in 1856. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Life_in_the_brig_cropped.jpg#/media/File:Life_in_the_brig_cropped.jpg
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