America's first frontier was not the West; it was the sea-and no one writes more eloquently about that watery wilderness than Nathaniel Philbrick. In his bestselling In the Heart of the Sea Philbrick probed the nightmarish dangers of the vast Pacific. Now, in an epic sea adventure, he writes about one of the most ambitious voyages of discovery the Western world has ever seen-the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838 to 1842. On a scale that dwarfed the journey of Lewis and Clark
, six magnificent sailing vessels and a crew of hundreds set out to map the entire Pacific Ocean-and ended up naming the newly discovered continent of Antarctica, collecting what would become the basis of the Smithsonian Institution
, and much more. The leadership of the expedition was given to a lieutenant in the United States Navy
, Charles Wilkes, and for this reason the expedition is sometimes called the Wilkes Expedition. During the explorations, the expedition entered the Columbia River
and sent a party from approximately present-day Portland
to San Francisco Bay overland.
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After the Continental Navy was allowed to lapse, the U.S. Navy was reconstituted and has defend America for over two centuries. The Smithsonian Institution was created by a bequest of an English citizen and is the premier scientific and technological museum in America. Portland, located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, is the largest city in Oregon, having been named for Portland, Maine. Thomas Jefferson assigned the task of exploring the land acquired by the Louisiana Purchase, along with some not yet acquired, to William Clark and Meriwether Lewis.