United States Exploring Expedition


United States Exploring Expedition

The United States Exploring Expedition was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean ("the Southern Seas") conducted by the United States Navy from 1838–1842. The original appointed commanding officer was Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones. The voyage, was authorized by Congress in 1836. It is sometimes called the "Ex. Ex." for short, or "the Wilkes Expedition" in honor of its next appointed commanding officer, U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Wilkes (1798–1877). The expedition was of major importance to the growth of science in the United States.

Preparations

In May, 1828, the United States Congress, after prodding by President John Quincy Adams, voted to send an expedition around the world, it was with the understanding that the country would derive great benefit. It was to promote commerce and to offer protection to the heavy investment in the whaling and seal hunting industries, chiefly in the Pacific Ocean. Congress also agreed that a "public ship" or ships should be used. At the time, the only ships owned by the government capable of such a circumnavigation were those of the U.S. Navy. So, in fact, Congress had decided that a naval expedition be authorized. There were to be many unforeseen impediments and it was not until May 18, 1836, that an act was passed, which authorized funding. Even with the burden of finance lifted, there were another two years of alteration of formation and command before six oddly-assorted ships moved down from Norfolk to Hampton Roads on August 9, 1838. On August 17, after being joined by the tenders ("Sea Gull" and "Flying-Fish") Lt. Wilkes received his final orders and at 15:00 hours the afternoon of August 18 the vessels weighed anchor. Due to light breezes the expedition did not discharge their pilots until 09:00 August 19 when they passed Cape Henry Light. By 11:00 the small fleet was standing to open seas.

Originally the Expedition was first organized under Commodore Thomas Ap Catesby Jones, however he subsequently resigned the station. Several more senior officers had either resigned from or indicated their unwillingness to accept command of the expedition. Command was finally vested in U.S. Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. The three duties laid down were daunting to officers trained only in fighting ships. In addition to exploration, the naval squadron was tasked with the duties to survey both the newly found areas and survey other areas previously discovered, but about which there was insufficient knowledge. As well, a scientific corps, of all civilians, was to be included an additional command responsibility. There were few officers in the U.S. Navy at that time with any surveying experience and none with a background of working alongside scientists. The United States Coast Survey, where most of the surveyors were employed and learned their trade, was a civilian organization. Wilkes, who had largely trained himself in surveying work, cut the excessively large number of scientists down to nine. He then reserved for himself, and other naval officers, some of the scientific duties, including all those connected with surveying and cartography.

Personnel included naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, taxidermists and a philologist, and was carried by the sloops-of-war "Vincennes" (780 tons) and "Peacock" (650 tons), the brig "Porpoise" (230 tons), the store-ship "Relief", and two tenders, "Sea Gull" (110 tons) and "Flying Fish" (96 tons).

Route of the expedition

Upon clearing the Cape Henry Light at 09:00 on Saturday, August 19, 1838, Lt. Wilkes laid in his course for Rio de Janeiro. By orders, he was to survey certain reported vigias, or shoals at latitude 10° South and between longitudes 18° and 22° West. Due to the prevailing winds at this season, the Squadron made an easterly tack of the Atlantic.

The Squadron arrived at the harbor of Funchal Madeira Islands on September 16, 1838. After completing some repairs the group moved southward and arrived on October 7 at the bay of Porto Praya, Cape Verde Islands eventually arriving at Rio de Janeiro on November 23. The entire passage from the United States to Brazil taking 95 days, about twice the time normally for a vessel proceeding directly. Due to repairs needed by the Peacock, the Squadron did not leave Rio de Janerio until January 6, 1839. From there they moved southward to Buenos Aries and the mouth of the Río Negro River, passing a French Naval blockade of the Argentine Republic's seaport. The European powers at the time, with the aid of Brazil, were involved in the internal affairs of the Argentine Republic. However, since the US Squadron had reduced its military profile prior to its departure from the United States, they were not molested by the French warships.

Following this beginning, the Squadron visited Tierra del Fuego, Chile, and Peru. The USS "Sea Gull" and its crew of fifteen were lost during a South American coastal storm in May, 1839. From South America, the expedition visited the Tuamotu Archipelago, Samoa and New South Wales, Australia. In December 1839, the expedition sailed from Sydney into the Antarctic Ocean and reported the discovery "of an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny Islands". That part of Antarctica was later named "Wilkes Land". Because of discrepancies in the logs of the various ships of the Wilkes expedition, and suggestions that these may have been subsequently altered, it is uncertain whether the Wilkes expedition, or the French expedition of Jules Dumont d'Urville, was the first to sight the Antarctic mainland coast in this vicinity. The controversy was added to by the actions of the commander of the USS "Porpoise", Lieutenant Ringgold, who, after sighting d'Urville's "Astrolabe" deliberately avoided contact.

Following this, the expedition visited Fiji. In July 1840, two members of the party, Lieutenant Underwood and Wilkes' nephew, Midshipman Wilkes Henry, were killed while bartering for food in western Fiji's Malolo Island. The cause of this event remains equivocal. Immediately prior to their deaths the son of the local chief, who was being held as a hostage by the Americans, escaped by jumping out of the boat and running through the shallow water for shore. The Americans fired over his head. According to members of the expedition party on the boat, his escape was intended as a prearranged signal by the Fijians to attack. According to those on shore the shooting actually precipitated the attack on the shore party. Close to 80 Fijians were killed in the resulting American reprisal and some villages were burned to the ground.Philbrick, N., "Sea of Glory", Viking, 2003] After Fiji, the expedition sailed to Hull Island, later known as Orona, and the Hawaiian Islands.

In 1841, the expedition explored the west coast of the United States, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, and the Columbia River.

Like his predecessor, British explorer George Vancouver, Wilkes spent a good deal of time near Bainbridge Island. He noted the bird-like shape of the harbor at Winslow and named it Eagle Harbor. Continuing his fascination with bird names, he named Bill Point and Wing Point. Port Madison, Washington and Points Monroe and Jefferson named in honor of former U.S. presidents. Port Ludlow was assigned to honor Lt. Augustus Ludlow, who lost his life in an 1813 sea battle.

The "Peacock" was lost in July 1841 on the Columbia River, though with no loss of life, thanks to a canoe rescue by John Dean, an African American servant of the "Vincennes" purser, and a group of Chinook Indians. Dean also rescued the expedition's artist, Alfred Agate, along with his paintings and drawings. Upon learning that the "Peacock" had foundered on the Columbia River Bar, Wilkes interrupted his work in the San Juan Islands and sailed south. He never returned to Puget Sound.

From the area of modern-day Portland, Oregon, an overland party headed by George F. Emmons was directed to proceed via an inland route to San Francisco Bay. This Emmons party traveled south along the Siskiyou Trail, including the Sacramento River, making the first official recorded visit by Americans to and scientific note of Mt. Shasta, in northern California.

The Emmons party rejoined the ships, which had sailed south, in San Francisco. The expedition then headed back out into the Pacific, including a visit to Wake Island in 1841, and returned by way of the Philippines, the Sulu Archipelago, Borneo, Singapore, Polynesia and the Cape of Good Hope, reaching New York on June 10, 1842.

The expedition throughout was plagued by poor relationships between Wilkes and his subordinate officers. Wilkes' self-proclaimed status as "Captain" and "Commodore" (accompanied by the flying of the requisite pennant and the wearing of a Captain's uniform while being commissioned only as a Lieutenant) rankled heavily with other members of the expedition of similar real rank. His apparent mistreatment of many of his subordinates, and indulgence in exercises such as "flogging round the fleet" resulted in a major controversy on his return to America. Wilkes was court-martialled on his return, but was acquitted on all charges except that of illegally punishing men in his squadron.

The publication program

For a short time Wilkes was attached to the Coast Survey, but from 1844 to 1861 he was chiefly engaged in preparing the report of the expedition. Twenty-eight volumes were planned but only nineteen were published. Of these Wilkes wrote the "Narrative" (1845) and the volumes "Hydrography" and "Meteorology" (1851). The "Narrative" contains much interesting material concerning the manners and customs and political and economic conditions in many places then little known. Other valuable contributions were the three reports of James Dwight Dana on "Zoophytes" (1846), "Geology" (1849) and "Crustacea" (1852–1854).

In addition to many shorter articles and reports, Wilkes published the major scientific works "Western America, including California and Oregon" (1849) and "Theory of the Winds" (1856).

ignificance of the expedition

The Wilkes Expedition played a major role in development of 19th-century science, particularly in the growth of the U.S. scientific establishment. Many of the species and other items found by the expedition helped formed the basis of collections at the new Smithsonian Institution.

With the help of the expedition's scientists, derisively called "clam diggers" and "bug catchers" by navy crewmembers, 280 islands (mostly in the Pacific Ocean) were explored, and over 800 miles of Oregon were mapped. Of no less importance, over 60,000 plant and bird specimens were collected. A staggering amount of data and specimens were collected during the expedition, including the seeds of 648 species, which were later traded, planted, and sent throughout the country. Dried specimens were sent to the National Herbarium, now a part of the Smithsonian Institution. There were also 254 live plants, which mostly came from the home stretch of the journey, that were placed in a newly constructed greenhouse in 1850, which later became the United States Botanic Garden.

The Expedition in popular culture

The Wiki Coffin novels of Joan Druett are set on a fictional 7th ship accompanying the expedition.

Ships

* USS "Vincennes" (780 tons), sloop-of-war
* USS "Peacock" (650 tons), sloop-of-war
* USS "Porpoise" (230 tons), brig
* USS "Relief" (468 tons), store ship
* USS "Flying Fish" (96 tons) schooner
* USS "Sea Gull" (110 tons) schooner

Some members of the United States Exploring Expedition

Naval Officers

* James Alden
* Thomas A. Budd, cartographer;
* Overton Carr
* George M. Colvocoresses (1816–1872), midshipman;
* Thomas T. Craven
* Samuel Dinsman, marine;
* Henry Eld (1814–1850), midshipman;
* George Elliott, ship's boy;
* Jared Elliott, ship's chaplain;
* Samuel Elliott, midshipman; USS "Porpoise"
* George Foster Emmons (1811–1884), lieutenant; USS "Peacock"
* Thomas Ford, seaman;
* Dr. John L. Fox, ship's doctor; USS "Vincennes" [http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=94189]
* George Hammersly, midshipman;
* Silas Holmes; USS "Peacock"
* William L. Hudson, commanding officer; USS "Peacock"
* Robert E. Johnson, lieutenant;
* Samuel R. Knox, commanding officer; USS "Flying Fish"
* A. K. Long, commanding officer; USS "Relief"
* William Lewis Maury (1813–1878)
* James H. North, acting master; USS "Vincennes"
* James W. E. Reid, commanding officer; USS "Sea Gull"
* William Reynolds (1815–1879),
* Cadwalader Ringgold (1802–1867), commanding officer; USS "Porpoise"
* R. B. Robinson, purser's clerk; USS "Vincennes"
* George Rogers, marine;
* George T. Sinclair, sailing master; USS "Porpoise"
* Simeon Stearns, marine sergeant;
* George M. Totten, midshipman, cartographer;
* R. R. Waldron
* T. W. Waldron
* Henry Waltham, seaman;
* Charles Wilkes (1798–1877), commander of expedition

Engravers & Illustrators

* Alfred Thomas Agate (1812–1846), engraver and illustrator; USS "Relief"
* Joseph Drayton (1795–1856), engraver and illustrator; USS "Vincennes" [http://siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARU7186.htm]

Scientific Corps

* William Dunlop Brackenridge (1810–1893), assistant botanist; USS "Vincennes" [http://siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARU7186.htm]
* John G. Brown, mathematical instrument maker; USS "Vincennes"
* Joseph Pitty Couthouy (1808–1864), conchologist; USS "Vincennes"
* James Dwight Dana (1813–1895), mineralogist and geologist; USS "Peacock"
* F. L. Davenport, interpreter; USS "Peacock"
* John Dean
* John W. W. Dyes, assistant taxidermist; USS "Vincennes"
* Horatio Emmons Hale (1817–1896), philologist; USS "Peacock"
* Titian Ramsay Peale (1799–1885), naturalist; USS "Peacock"
* Charles Pickering (1805–1878), naturalist;
* William Rich, botanist; USS "Relief" [http://siarchives.si.edu/findingaids/FARU7186.htm]
* Henry Wilkes

Notes

Books and publications

* cite book
last = Bagley
first = Clarence B.
coauthors =
year = 1957
title = History of King County, Washington
publisher = S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Barkan
first = Frances B.
coauthors =
year = 1987
title = The Wilkes Expedition: Puget Sound and the Oregon Country
publisher = Washington State Capital Museum
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Bertrand
first = Kenneth John
coauthors =
year = 1971
title = Americans in Antarctica, 1775–1948
publisher = American Geographical Society
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Borthwick
first = Doris Esch
coauthors =
year = 1965
title = Outfitting the United States Exploring Expedition: Lieutenant Charles Wilkes' European assignment, August–November, 1836
publisher = Lancaster Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Brokenshire
first = Doug
coauthors =
year = 1993
title = Washington State Place Names: From Alki to Yelm
publisher = Caxton Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Colvocoresses
first = George M.
coauthors =
year = 1855
title = Four years in the government exploring expedition: Commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes, to the island of Madeira, Cape Verd Island, Brazil
publisher = J.M. Fairchild
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Goetzmann
first = William H.
coauthors =
year = 1986
title = New Lands, New Men — America And The Second Great Age Of Discovery
publisher = Viking
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Gurney
first = Alan
coauthors =
year = 2000
title = The Race to the White Continent: Voyages to the Antarctic
publisher = Norton
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Haskell
first = Daniel C.
coauthors =
year = 1968
title = The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842 and Its Publications 1844–1874
publisher = Greenwood Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Haskett
first = Patrick J.
coauthors =
year = 1974
title = The Wilkes Expedition in Puget Sound, 1841
publisher = State Capitol Museum
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Henderson
first = Charles
coauthors =
year = 1953
title = The Hidden Coasts: A Biography of Admiral Charles Wilkes
publisher = William Sloane Assoc.
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Jenkins
first = John S.
coauthors =
year = 1856
title = Explorations and Adventures in and about the Pacific and Antarctic Oceans: Voyage of the U.S. Exploring Squadron, 1838–1842
publisher = Hurst & Company
location = New York
id =

* cite book
last = Jenkins
first = John S.
coauthors =
year = 1853
title = United States Exploring Expeditions: Voyage of the U.S. Exploring Squadron
publisher = Kerr, Doughty & Lapham
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Jenkins
first = John S.
coauthors =
year = 1852
title = Voyage of the U.S. Exploring Squadron Commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes ... In 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841 and 1842
publisher = Alden, Beardsley & Co.
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Kruckeberg
first = Arthur R.
coauthors =
year = 1995
title = The Natural History of Puget Sound Country
publisher = University of Washington Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Mitterling
first = Philip I.
coauthors =
year = 1957
title = America in the Antarctic to 1840
publisher =
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Morgan
first = Murray
coauthors = Daniel Wilkes
year = 1981
title = Puget's Sound: A Narrative of Early Tacoma and the Southern Sound
publisher = University of Washington Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Perry
first = Fredi
coauthors =
year = 2002
title = Bremerton and Puget Sound Navy Yard
publisher = Perry Publishing
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Philbrick
first = Nathaniel
authorlink = Nathaniel Philbrick
coauthors =
year = 2003
title = [http://us.penguingroup.com/static/packages/us/maritime/seaofglory-story5.html Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842]
publisher = Viking Adult
location =
id = ISBN 0-670-03231-X

* cite book
last = Pickering
first = Charles
authorlink = Charles Pickering (naturalist)
coauthors =
year = 1863
title = The geographical distribution of animals and plants (United States exploring expedition, 1838–1842, under the command of Charles Wilkes)
publisher = Trübner and Company
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Poesch
first = Jessie Peale
coauthors =
year = 1961
title = Titian Ramsay Peale And His Journals of The Wilkes Expedition, 1799–1885
publisher = American Philosophical Society
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Reynolds
first = William
authorlink = William Reynolds (US Navy officer)
coauthors = Nathaniel Philbrick
year = 2004
title = The Private Journal of William Reynolds: United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842
publisher = Penguin Classics
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Ritter
first = Harry
coauthors =
year = 2003
title = Washington's History: The People, Land, and Events of the Far Northwest
publisher = Westwinds Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Schwantes
first = Carlos Arnaldo
coauthors =
year = 2000
title = The Pacific Northwest: An Interpretive History
publisher = University of Nebraska Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Sellers
first = Charles Coleman
coauthors =
year = 1980
title = Mr. Peale's Museum
publisher = W. W. Norton & Company
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Stanton
first = William Ragan
coauthors =
year = 1975
title = The Great United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842
publisher = University of California Press
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Tyler
first = David B.
coauthors =
year = 1968
title = The Wilkes Expedition: The First United States Exploring Expedition (1838 - 1842)
publisher = American Philosophical Society
location =
id =

* Viola, H.J. "The Wilkes Expedition on the Pacific Coast," "Pacific Northwest Quarterly", January 1989.
* cite book
last = Viola
first = Herman J.
coauthors = Carolyn Margolis
year = 1985
title = Magnificent Voyagers: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842
publisher = Smithsonian
location =
id =

* cite book
last = Wilkes
first = Charles
authorlink = Charles Wilkes
coauthors =
year = 1851
title = Voyage round the world, Embracing the principal events of the narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition
publisher = G.P. Putnam
location =
id =

*http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=THEFAAAAQAAJ&dq=wilkes+expedition,+1838&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=NIHmR83JlT&sig=6FPMAhv7LOQtQFxXUpOUbAQZDdA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result

External links

* [http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/usexex/ The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842] — from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Digital Collections
*http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&id=THEFAAAAQAAJ&dq=wilkes+expedition,+1838&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=NIHmR83JlT&sig=6FPMAhv7LOQtQFxXUpOUbAQZDdA&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result
*Material from the Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/ac/exploration/wilkes/wilkes.html Navy Art Gallery Exhibit: The Alfred Agate Collection: The United States Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842]
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/w8/wilkes-iv.htm Brief biography of Charles Wilkes]
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-v/vincenns.htm USS "Vincennes"] (pictures)
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-p/porpois2.htm USS "Porpoise"] (pictures)
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/p3/peacock-i.htm USS "Peacock"]
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/r4/relief-i.htm USS "Relief"]
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/f3/flying_fish-i.htm USS "Flying Fish"]
** [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s8/sea_gull-ii.htm USS "Sea Gull"]
* [http://www.museumsiskiyoutrail.org Museum of the Siskiyou Trail]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • United States Exploring Expedition — Die United States Exploring Expedition, auch US Ex.Ex., Ex. Ex. oder Wilkes Expedition genannt, war eine US amerikanische Expedition in den Pazifik, die als Erkundungs und Kartierungsfahrt diente. Sie wurde von der United States Navy von 1838 bis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • United States Botanic Garden — The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a botanic garden on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle.The Botanic Garden is supervised by the Congress through the Architect of the Capitol, who is… …   Wikipedia

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, country in N. America. This article is arranged according to the following outline: introduction Colonial Era, 1654–1776 Early National Period, 1776–1820 German Jewish Period, 1820–1880 East European Jewish Period,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • United States — a republic in the N Western Hemisphere comprising 48 conterminous states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska in North America, and Hawaii in the N Pacific. 267,954,767; conterminous United States, 3,022,387 sq. mi. (7,827,982 sq. km); with… …   Universalium

  • United States expedition to Korea — Infobox Korean name caption=Koreans who died in Gwangseong Garrison. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato, 1871. hangul=신미양요 hanja=辛未洋擾 rr=Shinmiyangyo mr=Shinmiyangyo The United States expedition to Korea in 1871 also known as Shinmiyangyo (… …   Wikipedia

  • List of defunct United States congressional committees — The United States Congress has operated with more than 1500 standing, special, select, or joint committees over the years.[1][2][3] Many committees of these committees are now defunct. In some cases, their responsibilities were merged with other… …   Wikipedia

  • Native Americans in the United States — This article is about the indigenous people of the United States. For other indigenous people see Indigenous peoples by geographic regions Native Americans …   Wikipedia

  • List of United States military history events — From 1776 to 2008, there have been hundreds of instances of the deployment of United States military forces abroad and domestically. The list through 1975 is based on Committee on International Relations (now known as the Committee on Foreign… …   Wikipedia

  • The United States of America —     The United States of America     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The United States of America     BOUNDARIES AND AREA     On the east the boundary is formed by the St. Croix River and an arbitrary line to the St. John, and on the north by the… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Catholic Indian Missions of the United States —     Catholic Indian Missions of the United States     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Catholic Indian Missions of the United States     The spiritual welfare of the native tribes of America was a subject of deep concern to the Governments of Catholic… …   Catholic encyclopedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.