Page of hand-written text with flourishing style, the word Secret underlined features prominently in the top left hand side of the page.
Secret Instructions to Lieutenant Cook 30 July 1768 drawn from this website as: National Archives of Australia

Case study: Secret Instructions

The Admiralty issued James Cook with two sets of instructions for the voyage.

The first was to sail to Tahiti to observe the Transit of Venus.

He also received a second ‘secret’ set of instructions. These instructions are often referred to as the ‘Secret’ instructions. They were in a sealed packet and only to be opened by Cook himself once at sea. They are now in the collection of the National Library of Australia.

You can view the original manuscripts on the National Archives of Australia’s website.

And you can also read the transcript.

You can also download it by going to the Downloads button below.

Look at the transcript of the instructions.

Are the intentions of the Admiralty clear in these instructions?

What do you think these intentions are?

Why do you think the instructions are labelled secret?

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This article is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum