La Pérouse, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de


La Pérouse, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de

▪ French navigator
born Aug. 22, 1741, near Albi, Fr.
died c. 1788
 French navigator who conducted wide-ranging explorations in the Pacific Ocean.

      Commanding the ship La Boussole, which was accompanied by the Astrolabe, La Pérouse sailed from France on Aug. 1, 1785. After rounding Cape Horn, he made a stop in the South Pacific at Easter Island (April 9, 1786). Investigating tropical Pacific waters, he visited the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii) and, with the object of locating the Northwest Passage from the Pacific, he made his way to North America. He reached the southern shore of Alaska, near Mount St. Elias, in June 1786 and explored the coast southward beyond San Francisco to Monterey. He then crossed the Pacific and reached the South China coast at Macau on Jan. 3, 1787. Leaving Manila on April 9, he began to explore the Asian coast. He sailed through the Sea of Japan up to the Tatar Strait, which separates the mainland from the island of Sakhalin, and also visited the strait, named for him, that separates Sakhalin from Hokkaido, Japan. At Petropavlovsk on the Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka, he dispatched his expedition journal and maps overland to France. The ships then made for the Navigators' (now Samoa) Islands, where the commander of the Astrolabe and 11 of his men were murdered. La Pérouse then went to the Friendly (now Tonga) and Norfolk (Norfolk Island) islands on his way to Botany Bay in eastern Australia, from which he departed on March 10, 1788.

      Nothing more was known of him until 1826–27, when the English captain-adventurer Peter Dillon found evidence that La Boussole and the Astrolabe had been near Vanikoro, one of the Santa Cruz Islands (now in Solomon Islands). In 1828 the French explorer Dumont d'Urville sighted wreckage and learned from islanders that about 30 men from the ships had been massacred on shore, though others who were well armed managed to escape. La Pérouse's records, Voyage de La Pérouse autour du monde, 4 vol. (1797; A Voyage Round the World), were edited by L.A. Milet-Mureau and published posthumously.

Additional Reading
John Dunmore (trans. and ed.), The Journal of Jean-François Galaup de La Pérouse, 1785–1788, 2 vol. (1994–95); John Dunmore, Pacific Explorer: The Life of Jean-François de La Pérouse, 1741–1788 (1985).

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Universalium. 2010.

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