New York: Viking Penguin, 2003. Near Fine in Near Fine dust-jacket First Edition. Signed by author on title page, [9.25x6.25in]; xxv, 452 pp., 8 maps, modern illustration of all six ships at anchor in Orange Bay, near Cape Horn in 1839, 12 plates of illustrations and images, notes, bibliography and index; Black cloth back strip over red paper boards, gilt lettering on spine, blind stamped NP on front, all edges trimmed; Red dust jacket with white and gilt lettering on front and spine shadow image of sailing ship rigging on front, white lettering on back of book reviews; Minimal shelf wear with slight fading to bottom edges. Item #13630
Charles Wilkes (1798-1877) was a naval officer with a science background. He was selected, after a number of other senior officers declined the position, to command the expedition. The United States had one of the largest merchant fleets that were sailing throughout the world and primarily relied on British charts for navigation. The exploring expedition was conceived in 1828 to chart the known and unknown islands, discover the Antarctic continent, explore the Hawaiian Islands and the Pacific Northwest coast to insure the United States claim to the land and expand the scientific knowledge of the natural world. The tremendous number of plants, animal specimens and native artifacts that were brought back formed the Smithsonian collection and created the U.S. Botanical Gardens. This book is a very good introduction to the first government sponsored exploring voyage that began the United States broader interest in the world and supporting scientific studies.