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British explorers risked lives in northwest passage

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Social Studies High School

British Explorers Risked Lives to Find the Northwest Passage

In the 19th century, British explorers sent many expeditions in search of an Arctic Sea passage--the famed Northwest Passage--that would connect the continents of Europe and Asia. The search to find this shortcut between continents captivated the imagination of the British public. At that time, the search for the Northwest Passage had already been going on for 300 years. But in the early 19th century, after the defeat of Napoleon, England resumed the search with renewed vigor. These expeditions, however, resulted in failure. The most notorious failure was the voyage of Sir John Franklin from which no one survived. This audio story introduces this doomed expedition. Listen to learn more about England’s motivations for finding the Passage, and the harrowing experience of Franklin’s expedition.

Note: This story involves a discussion of cannibalism. (4:30 - 5:28)

Story Length: 6:20

Listen to the Story:


National Public Radio © 2010 National Public Radio, Inc. Used with the permission of NPR. All rights reserved.

AIR DATE: 04/17/2010

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