Long-tailed Potoo, South America, 1838-1842.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Dougal after a drawing by G G White. From 'United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842' by John Cassin, (Philadelphia, 1858). This first US scientific expedition led by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (1798-1877), visited South America, Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, the Northwest coast of North America and the China Sea. Its aims were: to improve knowledge of the Pacific, the Hudson's Bay Company's settlements, and the Indian tribes and their allegiances; to explore trading opportunities; to record the flora and fauna encountered and to find a southern continent. The charting of a significant portion of Antarctica was one Wilkes' main achievements.