"...John Ledyard... A man of genius, of some science, and of fearless courage and enterprise." - Thomas Jefferson|
In an era devoid of cars, planes and segway tours; American adventurer John Ledyard (1751-1789) still managed to explore more of the world than most of us would dare dream of during our modern lifetimes. Ledyard circumnavigated the globe when its map was still incomplete- during the very birth of this nation.
Ledyard's resume is quite extensive: he briefly attended Dartmouth College where he conducted its first play. Shortly after, Ledyard became the young college's first drop out - vacating the school via dugout canoe which he felled and fashioned himself on the campus lawn. He sailed with Captain James Cook on Cook's final voyage in search of the Northwest Passage (1776-1778). Over the course of this voyage, Ledyard became the first American to receive a Tahitian tribal tattoo and step foot on the future states of Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. He would later return to Dartmouth College where he wrote the first book protected under U.S. copyright. Eventually he would attempt to be the first person in human history to walk around the world- an expedition which, had it succeeded, would have beaten Lewis and Clark to the punch in crossing the American continent. It was, in fact, Thomas Jefferson who implanted the maddening concept of a walk around the globe in the adventurer's mind:
"I suggested to him the enterprise of exploring the Western part of our continent by passing thro St. Petersburg to Kamschatka, and procuring a passage thence in some of the Russian vessels to Nootka sound, whence he might make his way across the Continent to America."
Read John Ledyard's Biography online here.