Americans in Antarctica, 1775-1948.

With some anomalies, this is a remarkably sound guide to American exploration in the Antarctic.

Bertrand’s classic account of US exploration in Antarctica includes Chapter 10, “The United States Exploring Expedition 1838-1842,” (p. 159-97). Bertrand has an unusually positive view of Wilkes (given his usual reputation), dismissing his critics as malcontents, confirming his landfals, and concluding that “after more than a century, during which disparagement was most often his reward, there can now no longer be any doubt of the greatness of his achievement (p. 190). He typically sides with Hobbs here, and I would suspect a degree of nationalistic fervor on both Bertrand and Hobbs.

p. 15-16, on departure of Vincennes from Norfolk: At eleven o’clock all hands were called to ‘muster,” where we had an excellent and appropriate [sic] sermon by our Chaplain, Mr. Elliott, who earnestly invoked “Him whom the winds and waves obey,” to aid us in our arduous undertaking. He spoke feelingly of the dangers of our enterprise, and the inability of human exertions, without the aid of Him, who, when called upon by his affrighted companions, “Lord save us or we perish,” bade the angry billows cease, and in a moment they were still.

At half past one o’clock, P. M., we were piped down, and at five o’clock again called to muster, when each mess was furnished with a Bible and every man with a Prayer Book.

The sea is a fit place for contemplating the majesty and power of the “Almighty,” where the air is calm; where sleepeth the deep waters.

p. 18: At eleven o’clock September 9th, all hands were called, when we had a sermon from our Chaplain, from James 5: 6, 12. His discourse was directed principally against profane swearing.

p. 23-24: It will be seen in the following pages that along with their charts, navigational instruments, specimen bottles, and general supplies, Americans carried their cultural and ideological baggage with them on every voyage undertaken during this period. The observations of American explorers in this period were colored by the values and ideologies of religion, manifest destiny, Anglo-Saxonism, and nationalism. They were citizens of a nation built upon the subjugation and dislocation of Native Americans and the enslavement of Africans, a people riding roughshod on a rapacious Turnerian thrust westward, straining to gratify some unsatiated Anglo inner urge.

p. 42: “By the summer of 1837, most of the appointed scientists had gathered in Philadelphia in order to collect books, materials, and hardware for the impending voyage, making frequent use of the libraries and facilities of the Academy of Natural Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

p. 113, in Antarctica, notes that they checked French books to try to identify some shell specimens but found nothing similar.