Hispanic American Relations with the United States

By William Spence Robertson; David Kinley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS AND OTHER SCIEN-
TIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS OF A CENTURY

The Wilkes Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and the South Seas-- Lieutenants Herndon and Gibbon cross central South America-Lieutenant Page explores la Plata River System--James Orton descends the Amazon--Agassiz collects specimens in Brazil--His followers--Bailey Willis surveys Patagonia--Haseman journeys through central South America--The Roosevelt-Rondon Expedition explores the River of Doubt--Frank Chapman Investigates Hispanic-American bird life--Squier studies archaeology in Peru--Bingham discovers Machu Picchu--Adolf Bandelier--John L. Stephens visits aboriginal ruins in Central America and Mexico--Hardenburg exposes the Putuymayo atrocities--The discovery of the Yellow Fever stegomyia--The sanitary work against yellow fever--The Rockefeller Foundation fights disease in the American tropics.

The man on the street scarcely appreciates the extent to which Hispanic America has been a field of study for scholars. By governmental action, by the activities of learned institutions, and by the explorations of daring travelers attractive vistas have been opened in that vast region to men of science. The limits of this volume prohibit consideration of all the additions to the world's knowledge concerning Mexico, Central America, and South America which have been made by the citizens or the Government of the United States. Certain scientific achievements, however, may not be omitted or lightly mentioned: among those are expeditions by which contributions have been made to the knowledge of geography and related sciences.

The first exploring expedition that was sent to South America by the United States Government was dispatched under Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. On March 20, 1838, Secretary of the Navy Dickerson placed Wilkes in command of an expedition of six vessels, which, in accordance with an act of Congress dated May 14, 1836, was destined to explore and survey the Pacific Ocean and the South Seas in order to promote the commerce of citizens of the United States engaged in the whale fisheries. This expedition was composed of the sloops of war

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