Wilkes Expedition Discovers Antarctica
On January 19, 1840, US Naval captain Charles Wilkes became the first American to explore the coast of Antarctica.
Born on April 3, 1798, in New York City, New York, Charles Wilkes joined the US Navy in 1818. In the 1820s he was part of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Scientists. And in the 1830s, his survey of Narragansett Bay earned him a promotion to head of the Navy’s Department of Charts and Instruments, where he developed the Naval Observatory and Hydrographic Office.