Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Though far behind its original projected schedule, 1840 would be the year in which the expedition accomplished many of the important tasks for which it was commissioned, and create controversies which linger to the present.  The year began with a second foray in search of an Antarctic continent.  They would achieve their goal, but Wilkes’ reporting of the accomplishment would create conflict with the results of a French expedition.  Continuing his surveying among the islands vital to the whaling trade, Wilkes’ pursuit of “justice” in the Fiji islands only compounded tragedy with tragedy.