Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Today in History: August 8th

 British naval officer Joseph Whidbey led an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska as part of Captain Vancouver’s expedition of the American Pacific Northwest.

A veteran of the American war for Independence, Whidbey was given a peacetime appointment aboard the HMS Europa, where he conducted detailed surveys of Port Royal with then-Lieutenant Vancouver. Once his berth was completed, he was commissioned to the HMS Discovery along with Vancouver.

George Vancouver was born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England on June 22, 1757. He began his naval career aboard the HMS Resolution, captained by James Cook. Upon completion of two voyages with Captain Cook, Vancouver was commissioned as a Lieutenant aboard the HMS Martin surveying coast lines. It is this work that would set him apart from his peers. Following the Nootka Crisis - which resulted in skirmishes between the Spanish and the English as both tried to assert their authority over the territory - Captain Vancouver was given command of the Discovery and the Chatham and charged with the task of surveying the Pacific Northwest coastline.

The mission was time-consuming as the ships Discovery and the Chatham were too cumbersome to fit into the lithe channels and inlets along the coastline; instead, small boats were sent in every direction to examine the coast in detail. The Vancouver Voyage lasted four-and-a-half years, circumnavigating the globe, landing in five continents and had a great and lasting affect on the indigenous people it encountered as well as encouraging colonization of the Americas.
Captain George Vancouver’s maps were so great in detail that they were used as the key reference in coastal navigation for generations to come. In addition to his contributions to navigational records of the Pacific Northwest, he also contributed many surveys of Australia, Galapagos Islands, Sandwich Islands, Mexico, and Chile.

To recognize Whidbey’s outstanding service, Captain Vancouver named the island that forms the northern boundary of Puget Sound -incidentally named for another navel officer on the Vancouver expedition - Whidbey Island.

 Arader Galleries is proud to offer you a fine selection of Vancouver Expedition survey maps. Please contact the Gallery for more information.

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