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Voyages: Scientific Circumnavigations 1679 to 1859
United States Exploring Expedition 1838-1842


Lupus Gigas and Lupus Occidentalis
(Oregon Territory), Buffalo Wolf,
and the Common Wolf of North America

from John Cassin's
United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838-1842.
Under the Command of Charles Wilkes… Mammalogy and Ornithology
Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1858

The Wilkes expedition sailed from the Fiji Islands to the Hawaiian Islands before exploring the Oregon Territory on the northwest coast of North America. Oregon Territory comprised the northwest portion of the United States in the area now defined by Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The Lewis and Clark Expedition explored parts of it, but it was not included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Treaties provided that it be shared by Britain and America, but it was primarily under the influence of the English Hudson's Bay Company, which had established trading posts all the way to the west coast. The United States Exploring Expedition, arrived at the mouth of the Columbia River in the spring of 1841, the same year that the first official wagon train headed west for the territory along the Oregon Trail. The American voyagers arrived in Oregon via Hawaii! The expedition gave the United States a strong claim on the territory.


This impressive portrait of northwest coast wolves was drawn by Titian Peale from his observations of the animals in the Oregon Territory. From the west coast of North America, the ships sailed across the Pacific to the China Sea and on to one of the main destinations of the voyage: the Sulu Sea, between Malaysia and the Philippines. Captain Wilkes was instructed to explore the area and identify opportunities for commerce. He was successful in making a treaty with the Sultan of the Sulu Islands to allow crossing the sea. Wilkes wrote that the route
"will shorten by several days the passage to Manilla or Canton, and be a great saving of expense in the wear and tear of a ship and her canvass."

The ships then headed west across the Indian Ocean, homeward bound.


Wilkes: Page 6 of 6.
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