Elisha Kane

Elisha Kane

Elisha Kent Kane (28 February 1820 – 16 February 1857) was a medical officer in the United States Navy during the first half of the 19th century. He was a member of two Arctic expeditions to rescue the explorer Sir John Franklin.

Life and career

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kane was the son of John Kintzing Kane, a U.S. district judge, and Jane Duval Leiper. His brother was attorney, diplomat, abolitionist, and American Civil War cavalry general Thomas L. Kane. Kane graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1842. On 14 September 1843, he became Assistant Surgeon in the Navy. He served in the China Commercial Treaty mission under Caleb Cushing, in the Africa Squadron, and in the Marines during the Mexican-American War.

Kane was appointed senior medical officer of the Grinnell Arctic expedition of 1850-1851, which searched unsuccessfully for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin. Kane organized and headed a second rescue expedition which sailed from New York 31 May 1853, and wintered in Rensselaer Bay. Though suffering from scurvy, and at times near death, he resolutely pushed on and charted the coasts of Smith Sound and the Kane Basin, penetrating farther north than any other explorer had done up to that time. At Cape Constitution he discovered the ice-free Kennedy Channel, later followed by Isaac Israel Hayes, Charles Francis Hall, Augustus Greely, and Robert E. Peary in turn as they drove toward the North Pole.

Kane finally abandoned the icebound brig "Advance" 20 May 1855 and escaped the clutches of the frozen north by an 83-day march of indomitable courage to Upernavik. The party, carrying the invalids, lost only one man in the retreat to stand in the annals of Arctic exploration as the archetype of victory over defeat. Kane returned to New York 11 October 1855 and the following year published his two-volume "Arctic Explorations."

After visiting England to fulfill his promise to deliver his report personally to Lady Franklin, he sailed to Havana, Cuba in a vain attempt to recover his health. He died there on February 16th, 1857. His body was brought to New Orleans, and carried by a funeral train to Philadelphia; the train was met at nearly every platform by a memorial delegation, and is said to have been the longest funeral train of the century excepting only Lincoln's.


Dr. Kane received medals from Congress, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Socit de Gographie. The destroyer USS "Kane" (DD-235) was named for him, as was a later ship, the USS "Kane" (T-AGS-27). Kane was a Mason, and a prominent Masonic lodge in New York City (Lodge No. 454) was renamed the Kane Lodge. The Kane Crater on Earth's moon was also named for Dr. Kane. On May 28, 1986, the United States Postal Service issued a 22 cent postage stamp in his honor. [Scott catalog # 2220.]


* Corner, George W. "Doctor Kane of the Arctic Seas" (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1972)
* William Elder, "Biography of Elisha Kent Kane" (Philadelphia, 1857)
*Fox, Margaret. "Love Life of Dr. Kane" (New York, 1866)
*Greely, A.W., "American Explorers and Travelers" (New York, 1894)
* Michael Robinson, "The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture" (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2006)

ee also


*The Royal Navy in Polar Exploration from Franklin to Scott, E C Coleman 2006 (Tempus Publishing)

External links

* [http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=3998 Biography at the "Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online"]
* [http://www.ekkane.org/ Elisha Kent Kane Historical Society]
* [http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/mole/k/kaneek.htm Elisha Kent Kane papers]

Books by Elisha Kane

* [http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa;cc=moa;view=toc;idno=AJA5420.0001.001 The United States Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin: A personal narrative] ; Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson, 1856, at the Making of America Project.
* [http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa;cc=moa;idno=afk7244.0002.001;frm=frameset;view=toc Arctic explorations: The second Grinnell expedtion in search of Sir John Franklin, 1853,54,55] ; Philadelphia: Childs & Peterson, 1857, at the Making of America Project.

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  • Elisha Kane — Elisha Kent Kane (28 février 1820 16 février 1857) était un médecin américain de la United States Navy, scientifique et explorateur. Il a été membre de la première expédition (1850) dans l Arctique pour retrouver …   Wikipédia en Français

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  • Kane Basin (waterway) — Kane Basin (coord|79|4|59|N|73|4|59|W) is an Arctic waterway lying between Greenland and Canada s northernmost island, Ellesmere Island. It links Smith Sound to Kennedy Channel and forms part of Nares Strait. It is approximately 180 kilometres in …   Wikipedia

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