Charles Wilkes

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Charles Wilkes
BirthplaceNew York City, New York
Known for United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842. Trent Affair

Wilkes, Charles


Born Apr. 3, 1798, in New York; died Feb. 8,1877, in Washington, D.C. American explorer.

In 1838, Wilkes was put in command of a general expedition to explore Oceania and the area around Antarctica. The expedition began by surveying some 260 islands in Polynesia, including three previously unknown islands in the Phoenix and Tokelau groups. In 1840, while searching for the the south magnetic pole, Wilkes sighted land near the antarctic circle at 162° E long. He thereupon made his way westward along the edge of the ice pack for more than 2,700 km to 98° E long., later suggesting that he had traveled along the coast of the Antarctic mainland. This section of Antarctica is now called Wilkes Land. In 1841 the expedition explored part of the Columbia River basin in North America. It returned to the United States in 1842.


Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, vols. 1–5. Philadelphia, 1845.


Treshnikov, A. F. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Antarktidy. Moscow, 1963.
Svet, Ia. M. Istoriia otkrytiia i issledovaniia Avstralii i Okeanii. Moscow, 1966.
Tyler, D. B. The Wilkes Expedition. Philadelphia, 1968.
The Pacific Basin: A History of Its Geographical Exploration. New York, 1967.
References in periodicals archive ?
See Charles Wilkes, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition: during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, volume III, (Philadelphia: C.
Science in the region is much more recent; Charles Wilkes produced the first chart based on an organized survey in 1837.
The legacy of the Exploring Expedition, with its strict, headstrong and aloof commander Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, includes tales of adventure, songs of sea peril, navigational charts that were used for a century and 19 volumes of scientific reports and atlases.
1840: A ship commanded by American Charles Wilkes sighted Antarctica and confirmed it as a continent (several expeditions from 1820 on had sighted points on the Antarctic mainland).
Charles Wilkes and Terry Burton, both with 21-5 wins over Gary Carter and Joe Plunkett.
1840 - American Charles Wilkes discovered the coast of Antarctica.