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John Ledyard
Birth: Nov., 1751
Groton
New London County
Connecticut, USA
Death: Jan. 10, 1789
Cairo, Egypt

American Explorer, Adventurer. He was the eldest son of a sea captain who died of malaria in the Caribbean when John was quite young. His mother and the family then moved to Southold Long Island. Three years later John joined his grandfather in Hartford Connecticut where he attended school. When Dartmouth was only three years old, Ledyard enrolled and became its most enduring legend other than Eleazer Wheeler, the founder. In the summer of1872, Wheelock sent him up near the Canadian border for four months to live with the Iroquois Indians in hopes of getting some of their youth to enroll at Dartmouth. He studied these natives intently and took copious notes, just as he would years later when visiting many islands in the world's oceans. In the spring of 1773, he shopped down a huge white pine on the bank of the Connecticut River and dug out a fifty-foot long, three-foot wide canoe as he had learned from the Iroquois. With a paddle carved out by one of his Indian classmates he shoved off alone with two books for reading: the Greek Testament, and Ovid. He never returned to the college. Today, a division of the Dartmouth Outing Club is known as the Ledyard Canoe Club in his honor. He then decided to allot himself seven years to ramble the earth. He signed up as a common seaman on a year long voyage to Gibraltar, the Barbary Coast, and the Caribbean. While on his next voyage he jumped ship in England where he was caught and forced to join the British Navy as a marine. He joined Captain Cook in June of 1776 for what would be Cook's third and final voyage. This voyage was to last more than four years and resulted in the discovery of Hawaii. After the discovery the expedition continued on to the coast of North America. Ledyard was probably the first American to ever set foot on the western coast of the continent. They then returned to Hawaii where Cook was killed by native cannibals. The expedition returned to England in October of 1780. The British Navy then sent him to North America to fight in the American Revolution. He deserted and returned to Hartford where he authored his Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage. It was published five years after his visit to Hawaii and was the first book to be protected by the United States copyright laws. It was also the only journal written by an eyewitness to Cook's death. He wrote his mother in 1784 that he was returning to Europe and was planning a voyage around the world. When he reached Paris, he met with John Paul Jones, Ambassador Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de Lafayette, botanist Joseph Banks, and John Adams' son-in-law, William Smith. They provided the financial backing for a bold scheme to explore the American continent by going overland across Russia and crossing the Bearing Straights into Alaska. And head south and east to Virginia. After several disappointments, he left London in December of 1786 and traveling across northern Europe on foot, he arrived in Saint Petersburg, Russia in June of 1887. He was almost all the way across Russia when Empress Catherine the Great had him arrested as a French spy and deported to Poland. Ledyard returned to London in early may of 1788 completely broke and very disappointed. But he was not to remain so for very long. Two months late, after he discovered the African Association that was recruiting and funding explorers for an expedition to learn more than the world knew at that time of the interior of darkest Africa, he set sail once again. Upon reaching Cairo, Egypt on the 19th of August in 1788 he managed to find a caravan that was about to depart to the interior. He had sufficient time to write his mother that he expected to be gone for three years and hoped to see them all on his return. He reported to her that he was in "full and perfect health" although he had "tromped the world under his feet, laughed at fear, and derided danger". His mother was now 60 years old and this would be her final message from John. She was to out live her famous son by 16 years. Before the caravan could depart Cairo, he was taken ill and died there in his 38th year. He was buried in an unknown spot, in an unmarked grave, in the yellow sand where the desert meets the Nile River. He has been the subject of several books; the first published in 1828 was Memoirs of the Life and Travels of John Ledyard, by Jared Sparks which went through many editions. In 2005 James Zug wrote, American Traveler: The Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, The Man Who Dreamed of Walking the World. The latest books, both published in 2007, are by Bill Gifford, Ledyard, In Search of the First American Explorer, published by Harcourt, and The Making of John Ledyard, by Edward Gray, published by Yale Press. (bio by: Tom Todd) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  John Ledyard (1729 - 1762)
  Abigail Hempstead Moore (1728 - 1805)
 
 Siblings:
  John Ledyard (1751 - 1789)
  Charles Frederick Ledyard (1759 - 1759)*
  Abigail Moore Landon (1765 - 1833)**
 
*Calculated relationship
**Half-sibling
 
Burial:
Non-Cemetery Burial
Specifically: Unmarked grave where the Nile River meets the desert in Egypt
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Tom Todd
Record added: Jul 05, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28064872
John Ledyard
Added by: Tom Todd
 
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-Anonymous
 Added: Jan. 16, 2017

- Janis•E
 Added: Jan. 9, 2017
Ambitious and amazing. You are remembered for your vision.
- SRM
 Added: Jul. 14, 2016
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