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Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition - in six volumes

Date: 1845
Dimensions:
Each volume: 290 x 195 x 49 mm, 1.9 kg
Medium: Cloth, gilt, engravings, printed text on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: V00003576
Place Manufactured:Philadelphia

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    Description
    This is the complete 1845 publication 'Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842' by Charles Wilkes, Commander of the expedition. Comprised of six volumes, including 64 plates and nine maps within the text and five colour folding maps in the atlas volume.
    SignificanceThis rare complete 'Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842' by Charles Wilkes records the American exploration of the east coast of Australia during the 1838-1842 United States Exploring Expedition. The publication of the narrative contributed to the exposure of Australia to the American public.
    HistoryThe United States Exploring Expedition was the first government funded scientific hydrographic survey undertaken by the United States. The four-year voyage from 1838-1842 was lead by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes and comprised a naval squadron of six vessel. Wilkes left Virginia in March 1838 and headed down the east coast of South America, calling into Rio de Janeiro. He rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Pacific and called into Samoa and Sydney before turning south to explore Antarctica. Wilkes was the first explorer to ascertain that Antarctica was a separate continent and he mapped a large part of the eastern coastline. He then headed north to Fiji and Hawaii.

    In 1841 he explored the west coast of North America before crossing the Pacific again and returned to New York via the Cape of Good Hope. During the course of the voyage, Wilkes lost two ships and 28 men and was court-martialed upon his return. Although absolved for the loss of the ships and men, Wilkes was reprimanded for the harsh treatment of subordinates and for handing out illegal punishments.

    Shortly after Wilkes' return, in July 1842 he began writing his narrative of the voyage, drawing on the data and logs assembled by the members of the expedition, taking two years. In 1845, three editions of the narrative were published. The first was the 'official' edition limited to 100 copies, followed by the 'public' edition limited to 150 copies. The two differed only slightly in binding and preliminary material. Lastly, a general edition of 1,000 copies was published, which was smaller in size, featured smaller type, changes to the text, and a reduced atlas.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842. Volume 1.

    Web title: Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition - in six volumes

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