His Majesty's Government having, towards the close of the year 1823, determined upon another attempt to effect a northern passage by sea between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and Captain Parry, the highly distinguished Commander of the two preceding Expeditions, having been again entrusted with its execution, success, as far as ability, enterprise, and experience could ensure it, appeared likely to be the result. Yet, as the object was one for which Great Britain had thought proper to contend for upwards of three centuries, it seemed to me that it might be desirable to pursue it by more ways than one; I therefore ventured to lay before His Majesty's Government a plan for an Expedition overland to the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and thence, by sea, to the northwestern extremity of America, with the combined object, also, of surveying the coast between the Mackenzie and Coppermine Rivers.
I was well aware of the sympathy excited in the British public by the sufferings of those engaged in the former overland Expedition to the mouth of the Coppermine River, and of the humane repugnance of His Majesty's Government to expose others to a like fate; but I was enabled to show satisfactorily that, in the proposed course, similar dangers were not to be apprehended, while the objects to be attained were important at once to the naval character, scientific reputation, and commercial interests of Great Britain; and I received directions from the Right Honourable Earl Bathurst to make the necessary preparations for the equipment of the Expedition, to the command of which I had the honour to be nominated.
My much valued friend, Dr. Richardson, offered his services as Naturalist and Surgeon, and also volunteered to undertake the survey of the coast between the Mackenzie and Coppermine Rivers, while I should be occupied in endeavouring to reach Icy Cape.
Lieutenant Bushnan, who had served under Captains Ross and Parry on their voyages of discovery, was also appointed to accompany me; but, long before the party was to leave England, I had to lament the premature death of that excellent young officer, who was eminently qualified for the situation, by his skill in astronomical observations, surveying, and drawing. Many naval officers, distinguished for their talent and ability, were desirous of filling the vacancy; but my friend and former companion, Lieutenant Back, having returned from the West Indies, the appointment was offered to him, and accepted with his wonted zeal.
Mr. E.N. Kendall, Admiralty Mate, and recently assistant Surveyor with Captain Lyon, was appointed to accompany Dr. Richardson in his voyage to the eastward, and to do the duty of an Assistant-Surveyor to the Expedition at large, whilst it continued united. Lastly, Mr. Thomas Drummond, of Forfar, was appointed Assistant Naturalist, on the recommendation of Professor Hooker, and other eminent scientific men.
A residence in the northern parts of America, where the party must necessarily depend for subsistence on the daily supply of fish, or on the still more precarious success of Indian hunters, involves many duties which require the superintendence of a person of long experience in the management of the fisheries, and in the arrangement of the Canadian voyagers and Indians: we had many opportunities, during the former voyage, of being acquainted with the qualifications of Mr. Peter Warren Dease, Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company, for these services, and I therefore procured the sanction of His Majesty's Government for his being employed on the Expedition.
As soon as I had authority from Earl Bathurst, I entered into a correspondence with the Governor and Directors of the Hudson's Bay Company; and these gentlemen, taking the most lively interest in the objects of the Expedition, promised their utmost support to it, and forthwith sent injunctions to their officers in the Fur Countries to provide the necessary depôts of provision at the places which I pointed out, and to give every other aid in their power....