THE LINDA HALL LIBRARY HISTORY OF SCIENCE COLLECTION
United States Exploring Expedition 1838-1842
Gigas and Lupus Occidentalis
(Oregon Territory), Buffalo Wolf,
and the Common Wolf of North America
John Cassin's United States Exploring Expedition. During the Years 1838-1842.
Under the Command of Charles Wilkes… Mammalogy and Ornithology.
Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1858.
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.