During the 19th century, American ships sailed every ocean. They carried immigrants to new homes, exotic goods from Asia, and prospectors to the California gold fields, and they explored uncharted oceans.
One notable voyage was in 1838: the U.S. Exploring Expedition, also known as the Wilkes Expedition. Aboard six U.S. Navy vessels were several hundred sailors and scientists under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. Authorized by Congress, this expedition explored and mapped the Pacific, Antarctica, and the northwest coast of the United States.
A tremendous feat of navigation, the expedition broadened knowledge of unchartered areas of the world and helped expand American commerce, industry, and scientific knowledge. It cemented the nation’s status as a new world economic leader.