The Cook Islands in the South Pacific were named for British explorer James
Cook. While Franklin was living in London, he became acquainted with Capt. Cook
and dined with him upon occasion. Cooks voyages of exploration naturally
interested Franklin because of their scientific nature. Later, during the American
Revolution, Franklin intervened on Cooks behalf. In March 1779, Franklin
wrote a "passport" for Cook and his crew, which provided the explorers
with safe passage through waters patrolled by American warships.
From France, Franklin contacted the American commanders of armed ships and
wrote that if they should come in contact with Cooks ship that they should
"not consider her an enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made of the effects
contained in her, nor obstruct her immediate return to England by detaining
her or sending her into any other part of Europe or to America; but that you
treat the said Captain Cook and his people with all civility and kindness, affording
them, as common friends to mankind, all the assistance in your power which they
may happen to stand in need of."
Franklins intervention was well-intentioned, but it was too late for
the captain himself, as Cook had already been killed by natives in Hawaii one
month before Franklin wrote the passport. The ship returned to England, going
west around Africa to avoid American waters.