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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

American Voyages, 1800 to 1842

American Voyages, 1800 to 1842

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the number of voyages made by American sealers, sandalwood traders, and whaling ships were numerous, but the men who went down to the sea in such ships were usually not gifted with language suitable for publication.

The United States Navy kept a small squadron on the Pacific station, and some information was recorded by warships when changing stations or visiting Hawaii. The responsibility of the government in promoting voyages to add to geographical knowledge was not realized until well toward the middle of the century, when after some opposition and criticism, the United States Expedition under the command of Commodore Charles Wilkes was approved. A few such voyages are herewith listed.

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Date Authority Ships Polynesian Islands Visited
1812-1814 David Porter Essex Marquesas
1829-1830 C. S. Stewart Vincennes Society, Marquesas, Hawaii
1831-1834 John Dowries Potomac Hawaii, Society
1838-1842 Charles Wilkes Vincennes, Peacock, Porpoise, etc. Tuamotu, Society, Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Penryhn, Tokelau, Ellice, Phoenix