By: Joseph Banks (1743-1820)
In this Journal, Joseph Banks records almost daily observations of the journey of the ship the Endeavour on the first of James Cook’s voyages to the Pacific during the years 1768-1771. There are also more detailed accounts of the events, people, flora, fauna and geology of the places where they landed. They landed at Brazil, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Batavia, Cape Town and St. Helena.
Joseph Banks was one of the naturalists on the Endeavour, appointed by the Royal Society. The joint Royal Society, Royal Navy journey of the Endeavour was overtly a scientific expedition with the stated purpose of observing the transit of Venus from Tahiti. The other purpose of the journey was to attempt the discovery of the postulated Southern Continent . In addition to himself, Banks funded the inclusion on the voyage of two other naturalists and two artists .
Joseph Banks became famous upon the return to Britain of the Endeavour and went on to be a highly influential person in Britain. Banks was President of the British Royal Society for more than 40 years; and was a strong advocate for the settlement of New South Wales as a convict settlement. Along with James Cook, he was responsible for representing the Australian continent as terra nullius even though he observed the occupation of the land by the indigenous Australians, which misrepresentation contributed to the colonization of Australia by the British. Now, 250 years after the Endeavour's voyage, controversy and the voices of indigenous people are leading to a reassessment of the effects of James Cook’s voyages and the colonial legacy of Australia and New Zealand.