Charles Wilkes

Charismatic but haughty, Captain Charles Wilkes became an experienced naval officer known for his expertise and accuracy in mapping and charting. He was passionate about navigation technology. Before leading the U.S. Exploring Expedition, he headed the Navy’s Department of Charts and Instruments (now the U.S. Naval Observatory), where he worked tirelessly on synchronizing marine chronometers.

Despite the expedition’s success, Wilkes’s heavy-handed treatment of his crew resulted in his court-martial and a reprimand.

Caption:
Captain Charles Wilkes led the U.S. Exploring Expedition, which sailed around the world between 1838 and 1842.
Type: Photograph
Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Origin: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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Captain Charles Wilkes led the U.S. Exploring Expedition, which sailed around the world between 1838 and 1842.