QUEBEC-RESEARCH-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2005-01 > 1106177041
Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2005 18:24:04 EST
1840 Wilkes claims portion of Antarctica for U.S.
During an exploring expedition, Captain Charles Wilkes sights the coast of
eastern Antarctica and claims it for the United States. Wilkes' group had set
out in 1838, sailing around South America to the South Pacific and then to
Antarctica, where they explored a 1,500-mile stretch of the eastern Antarctic
coast that later became known as Wilkes Land. In 1842, the expedition returned
to New York, having circumnavigated the globe.
Antarctica was discovered by European and American explorers in the early
part of the 19th century, and in February 1821 the first landing on the
Antarctic continent was made by American John Davis at Hughes Bay on the Antarctic
Peninsula. During the next century, many nations, including the United States,
made territorial claims to portions of the almost-inhabitable continent.
However, during the 1930s, conflicting claims led to international rivalry, and
the United States, which led the world in the establishment of scientific
bases, enacted an official policy of making no territorial claims while
recognizing no other nation's claims. In 1959, the Antarctic Treaty made Antarctica
an international zone, set guidelines for scientific cooperation, and
prohibited military operations, nuclear explosions, and the disposal of radioactive
waste on the continent.