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CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES.
20TH CONGRESS-1st SESSION. ·
In the House of Representatives, May 21, 1828. Resolved, That it is expedient that one of our small public vessels be sent to the Pacific Ocean and South Sea, to examine the coasts, islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs, in those seas, and to ascertain their true situation and description.
Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to send one of our small public ships into those seas for that purpose; and that he be requested to afford such facilities as may be within the reach of the Navy Department, to attain the object proposed; provided, it can be effected with out prejudice to the general interest of the Naval service; and provided it may be done without further appropriation during the present year. Attest:
M. ST. CLAIR CLARKE, Clerk of the House of Representatives.
November 18, 1828. Sir: It is important that the instruments necessary for the Exploring Expedition be prepared without annecessary delay. You will, therefore, proceed to New York, and exercise your best industry, skill, and judgment, in procuring and preparing them. The enclosed list will be your guide for the present. You will communicate to the Department the purchases you make, and the prices you agree to pay, that the necessary orders on the subject may be given. The utmost regard to economy is expected in all you do. I will endeavor to procure the astronomical clock which is at West Point.
I am, respectfully, &c.
SAMUEL L. SOUTHARD. Lieut. CHARLES WILKES, Jr.
U. S. Navy, Washington.
List of Instruments for the Expedition to the South Sea.
ASTRONOMICAL. i Repeating Circle, one foot in diameter-bought. 1 Repeating Reflecting Circle--bought. 2 Repeating Theodolites, six inches verticle circle. 2 Sextants. 1 Variation Transit. 3 Artificial Horizon. 1 Astronomical Clock. 1 Clock with invariable Pendulum. 1 Experimental Pendulum and Frame. 2 Stands for the Clocks. 3 Chronometers of the very best quality, one to be set to Sideral time. i Pocket Chronometer for transporting.
MAGNETIC INSTRUMENTS. 1 Diurnal Variation Apparatus. 1 Azimuth Compass, Counterpoise moveable. 2 Compasses, with Barlow's computation. 1 Dipping Needle. I Needle for the intensity of Magnetism.
METEOROLOGICAL INSTRUMENTS. 2 Marine Barometers. 1 Of Daniells' Standard Barometers, 2 Mountain Barometers. I Sympresometer. 2 Daniells' Hygrometers. 2 Electrometers. 1 Hydrometer. 1 Self-registering Thermometer. 1 For Solar Radiation. 1 For Terrestrial Radiation. 12 Of various sizes, common ones.
6 Spare Barometer Tubes and purified mercury. A portable Observatory with Instruments, to be used for sheltering the Instruments and Observers.
A number of small parts of the different instruments, such as will be required in case of meeting with accidents, that the instruments may not become useless.
Most of these instruments are for the especial use of the Astronomer, and therefore only one set will be required; and the other vessel may be supplied with ones less costly.
A complete set of Drawing Instruments for the construction of charts, &c.
Extract from the report of the Secretary of the Nuvy, made to the Pre
sident of the United States, 27th November, 1828. On the 21st May, 1828, the House of Representatives passed a resolution, requesting the President of the United States “ to send one of our small vessels to the Pacific Ocean and South Sea, to examine the coasts, Islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs, in those seas, and to ascertain their true situation and description;" and authorizing the use of such facilities as could be afforded by the Department, without further appropriation during the year. To this resolution it was your earnest wish that early and full attention should be paid.
There was no vessel belonging to our Navy, which, in its then condition, was proper to be sent upon this expedition. The Peacock was therefore selected, and placed at the Navy Yard at New York, to be repaired, and supplied with conveniences suited to the object. Her repairs and preparations are now nearly completed, and she will be ready to sail in a few weeks.
In looking to the great purpose for which this resolution was passed, and the difficulties and dangers which must necessarily be encountered, it seemed
to be both unsafe and inexpedient to send only one vessel. But the Department did not feel that it had authority, either to purchase another, or to detach one more of the small vessels of the Navy, to be joined with the Peacock; nor, indeed, is there another in the service suited to this peculiar employment. But the opinion and wish of the Department being known, an offer was made to it, of such a vessel as was desired, being of about 200 tons burden, and calculated for cruising in the high Southern latitudes, and among the Ice Islands and reefs which are known to exist there. This vessel has been received and placed at the Navy Yard, upon the express agreement that a recommendation should be made to Congress, to authorize its purchase, and if the recommendation was not approved, that it should be returned to its owner. No money has been expended under this arrange
That satisfactory evidence might be had, both of the fitness of the vessel and its value, directions were given to Mr. Eckford, of New York, and Mr. Hartt, the naval constructor at Brooklyn, to examine it and report on those points. Their report fixes the value at $10,000. I cheerfully discharge my obligation under the agreement, by an earnest recommendation that Congress authorize the price to be paid. Should this not be done, the vessel will be returned.
Measures have been taken to procure information of the present state of knowledge in our country, on the subjects pointed out in the resolution, from our citizens who have been employed in the navigation of those seas, and who possess information derived from experience, which is confined very much to themselves and their logbooks and journals. An agent has been usefully and successfully engaged in this object, and has found few obstacles thrown in his way. Those who have been most acquainted, by business and interest, with that portion of the globe, feel the deepest solicitude for the success of the enterprise. The expedition will be enabled to sail with better guides than are usually possessed, by those who embark in similar undertakings.
With a view to give tlie most useful character to the enterprize, it is important that persons skilled in the various branches of science should partake in it. Correspondence has, therefore, been held with scientific men, and some selections have been made, and others are now making, by the Department, of astronomers, naturalists, and others, who are willing to encounter the toil, and will be able to bring home to us results which will advance the honor, nd promote the interests of the nation.
Master Commandant Jones will command the Peacock, and other suitable officers have been designated.
The resolution was understood to authorize the use of the naval appropriations, to furnish facilities for the expedition, and they have been used for all those objects which come within the terms in the bill of appropriation, as pay, subsistence, instruments, books, &c. But there are indispensable objects which do not come within any of the items in the bill, and for which provision is required. A bill on the subject was reported by the Naval Committee, at the last session of Congress, and placed on the list of business to be acted on, but was not reached before the close of the session.
passage is necessary to accomplish the purposes designed by the resolution. It does not seem proper to detail the facilities” which it is the intention of the Department to afford. One of them should be, a vessel to carry provisions, in order that, upon the arrival of the expedition at the scene of operation, the exploring vessels may be supplied in such a manner, that they may not
be driven from their employment at too early a period, and that they may subsequently, from time to time, be further supplied from distant stations, so that no causes but the elements may arrest their labors; but they may, at all times and seasons, be at liberty to pursue their investigations, without interruption. Other and obvious uses may be made of such a vessel, in the relief which it will afford, should disease or death make serious inroads on their numbers. A vessel suited to this object is within the control of the Department, and will either be chartered or purchased, as the means furnished by Congress may permit. The importance of the expedition, in all its aspects, and especially in its commercial relations, has augmented, in the view of the Department, by all the inquiries and investigations which have been made; aud an anxious desire is felt, that nothing should be omitted which can tend to its ultimate success.
LIST of claims on the United States, for the Exploring Expedition.
$ 1,700 00
1,300 00 Professor Renwick, for articles bought in London by Captain Sabine, as per account annexed,
90 00 Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr. for extra pay while employed
in preparing and superintending the construction of the instruments, as per account annexed,
Total amount of claims,
- $3,426 00
NEW YORK, December 5th, 1829.
160 00 i Strong plain solid mahogany case for clock,
20 00 3 Eight day Box Chronometers, a $ 420
1,260 00 i Silver Cased Chronometer, pocket size,
United Stales' Exploring Expedition, 1829.
To Richard Patten,
i Variation Transit,
New YORK, December 5th, 1829.
$ 34 00 1 Hygrometer,
31 00 I Magnetic Apparatus,
New YORK, 5th December, 1829, United States' Exploring Expedition, To Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, Jr.
Dr. For extra pay while employed in superintending the construction and
preparing the Astronomical Instruments, from 18th November, 1828, until the 1st July, 1829, 224 days, a $150 per diem,