Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, (1820-1857)

Elisha Kent Kane was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 3 February 1820. Though weakened by rheumatic fever as a youth, he was educated as a physician at the University of Pennsylvania and, in July 1843, was appointed an Assistant Surgeon in the United States Navy. In 1844, prior to taking up his duties, Kane sailed to China as part of a U.S. diplomatic mission. His later Navy assignments involved cruises off Africa, in the Mediterranean Sea and off South America. In 1847 he undertook a daring courier mission to Mexico City, travelling through hostile territory, and surviving severe battle wounds.

In 1850-1851, Kane was surgeon and official historian for the DeHaven expedition, sent to the Canadian Arctic in the brigs Advance and Rescue to look for possible survivors of Sir John Franklin's exploring party. A second expedition sailed in the Advance in late May 1853, with the same object and with Kane as leader. Frozen in between Greenland and Canada, Kane and his men endured more than two years of hardship and an arduous journey over ice and open water to Upernavik, Greenland. Hailed as a hero upon his return to the U.S., Kane undertook a program of writing and lectures. After his health failed during a trip to England in the Fall of 1856, he went to Cuba in search of recovery. However his condition became worse, and Elisha Kent Kane died in Havana on 16 February 1857.

The U.S. Navy has named two ships in honor of Elisha Kent Kane, including: USS Kane (DD-235) and USNS Kane (T-AGS-27).

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Photo #: KN-10875 (Color)

Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, USN (1820-1857)

Oil on canvas, 72" x 53", by Thomas Hicks (1823-1890). Signed and dated by the artist, 1859.
The painting depicts Kane in the cabin of the exploration ship Advance, probably during his second expedition to the Arctic, circa 1853-1855.

Painting in the U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection. Gift of Florence Bayard Kane and Charles Carey, 1940.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph

Online Image: 84KB; 590 x 765 pixels

Reproductions may be available through the National Archives as Photo # 428-KN-10875

 
Photo #: NH 95532

Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, USN
(1820-1857)

Engraved portrait after a painting by Alonzo Chappel, published in "National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans". It depicts Kane during his 1850s missions to the Arctic to search for possible survivors of the Franklin expedition. Kane's hand is shown resting on a monument inscribed "Sacred to the Memory of W. Braine R.N. H.M.S. Erebus ...".

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 188KB; 580 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 66634

Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, USN
(1820-1857)

Engraved portrait published in 1876. It features vignette scenes related to Kane's 1850s Arctic explorations and a facsimile of his signature.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 90KB; 490 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 59607

Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, USN
(1820-1857)

Engraving by T. Pillsbrown, after an 1850s daguerreotype by Brady.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 217KB; 560 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 48684

Assistant Surgeon Elisha Kent Kane, USN
(1820-1857)

Engraving of an 1850s era portrait, with a facsimile of Kane's signature below the image.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 96KB; 500 x 765 pixels

 



For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.





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