In May of 1853, aboard the ship Advance, Elisha Kent Kane began a second foray into the unknown waters of the Arctic. This expedition would ultimately bring two of its members to a place Kane named Cape Constitution. Sailing north along the west coast of Greenland, the Advance reached the northern extent of Baffin Bay, passed through Smith Sound and into a larger channel now called Kane Basin. Precluded by sea ice from continuing farther north, Kane secured the ship for the winter in a small cove which he name Rensselaer Harbor. The Advance would never leave this anchorage.
The following spring Kane sent two members of his crew on a sledge journey the goal of which was to evaluate the sea ice and to chart the northwest coast of Greenland. The journey, the first recorded traverse of this section of the coast, brought them ultimately to a place that Kane would name Cape Constitution, in tribute to the Constitution of the United States. Here they planted a flag whose destiny was “to float over the highest northern land not only of America but of our globe.” Cape Constitution would not be seen or reached again for seventeen years.
My book Beyond the Edge tells of the struggles the two men endured to reach Cape Constitution. It also places the story in the larger context of the search for Ultima Thule.
Interested in learning more about Cape Constitution? Get your copy of Beyond the Edge today!