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Mapping the World

Throughout the 19th century Congress funded expeditions to explore land and sea. In 1836 Congress authorized the United States Exploring Expedition—also called the Wilkes Expedition after its leader, naval officer Charles Wilkes. Its purpose was to circumnavigate the world, promote commerce and “extend the bounds of science and … Knowledge.” The four-year expedition mapped South Sea islands and Pacific coastlines, established trade, and gathered voluminous information that aided the United States in becoming a leading scientific and naval power.

1 Image Notes on Surveying for Officers of U.S. Exploring Expedition,... View All Images
1 Image Map of Part of the Island of Hawaii, 1841 View All Images
1 Image List of Islands surveyed for the first time, ca. 1842 View All Images