Explorations and Expeditions

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This entry includes 6 subentries:


Great Britain ultimately was the last European nation to become a major force in the exploration and colonization of North America. Initially, however, the English were among the forerunners of New World exploration. Shortly after Christopher Columbus's discovery of the Caribbean in 1492, the English king Henry VII dispatched John Cabot (actually Giovanni Caboto), an Italian sea captain, on an expedition to find an Atlantic passage to the Orient. Cabot, like Columbus, believed the newly discovered lands in the Americas were a minor impediment to locating an ocean route to the Orient. Following an uneventful Atlantic exploration in 1495, Cabot successfully reached the coast of North America in 1497 and explored the region around Newfoundland, Canada. He failed to locate a Northwest Passage, but his return to England with news of his discovery laid the foundation for English claims to North America.

Sixteenth-Century Stagnation

The English made no meaningful efforts to capitalize on Cabot's discovery over the next century. Although Cabot's son Sebastian explored the Atlantic coast of North America in 1508–1509 and English fishermen regularly plied their trade off the Grand Banks, religious turmoil at home restricted English participation in Atlantic exploration and expansion throughout much of the sixteenth century. Following the reign of Henry VIII (1509–1547), religious contention fractured the English government. Henry VIII had initiated a Protestant reformation when he publicly renounced the Roman Catholic Church, but the fissure was not supported by the entire English population. The split with Rome had as much to do with emerging English notions of independence as it did with religious doctrine, but Henry VIII nonetheless refused to sponsor New World exploration during his reign. The king attempted to maintain cordial relations with Catholic Spain, with whom he hoped to forge a military alliance against the rising power of France. English acceptance of Protestantism quickly became a contested issue following Henry's death. His heir, the sickly Edward VI, held the throne only a short time before Mary, a Catholic, claimed the throne in 1553 and attempted to reimpose her faith upon the nation by force. After five years of bloody religious upheaval, English Protestants regained control of the government in 1558 with the ascension of Elizabeth I, the youngest child of Henry VIII.

Motivations for Expansion

Even though Henry VIII's Eurocentrism and the decade of tension following his death precluded English participation in Atlantic exploration for most of the sixteenth century, economic and social forces within the nation reignited English interest in the Americas. Throughout the first half of the seventeenth century, the enclosure movement displaced thousands of tenant farmers from the countryside, as rural landlords converted their real estate holdings into enclosed pastures in an effort to increase wool production and reap larger dividends in the escalating textile trade with the Dutch. The migrant rural population flooded into London and other urban centers, creating a large surplus workforce with little opportunity for social advancement. The unstable social situation was further complicated by increasing numbers of religious dissenters. Thousands of Catholics, Puritans, and Quakers criticized the English church along both sides of the religious axiom, while others, appropriately dubbed Separatists, advocated flight as the only means of spiritual salvation. Concurrently, English overproduction of wool brought about a significant downturn in the European textile industry, which escalated inflation and unemployment in England to almost unbearable levels.

Proposed solutions for England's problems abounded. A new economic theory, mercantilism, advocated the establishment of overseas colonies as a clearinghouse for excess industrial production and as a source of raw materials for the mother country. Two Englishmen, an uncle and his nephew, both named Richard Hakluyt, provided a theoretical foundation for mercantilism that doubled as a panacea for the ills plaguing the nation. In A Discourse on the Western Planting (1584), the younger Hakluyt argued that the establishment of English colonies would provide a place to send religious dissenters and the excess urban population, a market for surplus industrial production, military bases to protect English Atlantic shipping and to harass the nation's European competitors in the New World, and a foothold for Protestant missionaries in the battle to counter the spread of Catholicism among the Native peoples of the Americas.

Rebirth of Exploration

These social and intellectual forces propelled a new era of English exploration, the opening phases of which occurred during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Elizabeth did not share her father's amicable diplomatic stance toward Spain, and under her watchful gaze, the English government covertly outfitted and backed privateers, known as "sea dogs," whose sole purpose was to raid Spanish treasure ships as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Foremost among these English pirates was Sir Francis Drake, who circumnavigated the world in 1577–1580 on a global voyage of plunder. The activities of Drake and other privateers, such as John Hawkins and Richard Grenville, resulted in Spain's attempt to invade England and the famous defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Following the defeat of the armada, English exploration of the New World was invariably tied to colonization, although plans for overseas expansion in North America had been under way at least a decade prior to the Spanish attack. In 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, an English nobleman and soldier, received a charter from Queen Elizabeth authorizing him to establish a colony in North America. Gilbert hoped to bring Hakluyt's vision of a fortified "New England" to reality. In 1583, he set out with seven ships carrying four hundred men to explore the North American coast and found a settlement. Although he succeeded Cabot in reaching Newfoundland, Gilbert, like his unfortunate predecessor, was lost at sea after his prospective colonists forced him to return to England.

Gilbert's half brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, subsequently grasped the reins of English exploration. In April 1585, Raleigh sent seven ships and six hundred men to explore the southern Atlantic coast of North America. After locating a seemingly ideal destination along the Outer Banks region of present-day North Carolina, the expedition left one hundred men to found a colony on Roanoke Island. Although reinforcements were expected to reach Roanoke the next year, the original colonists opted to return to England before the relief expedition arrived. Undaunted, Raleigh renewed his efforts in 1587, this time dispatching 110 people, including 17 women and 9 children, to found a colony on the mainland near Chesapeake Bay. Miscalculations landed the prospective colonists back at Roanoke, where they established a small fort and village. Within three years, however, the tiny community vanished without explanation. The fate of the Lost Colony, as it has come to be known, became one of the most intriguing mysteries of American history.

The failure of the Roanoke colony left Raleigh in financial ruin and illustrated to English expansionists that the challenge of overseas exploration and colonization required the consolidation of capital and resources. The next wave of English exploration of North America was carried out by joint-stock companies, business conglomerates that transformed colonization into a corporate enterprise. The colony of Virginia was founded in 1607 by adventurers employed by the London Company, a joint-stock enterprise dedicated to harvesting whatever wealth the New World had to offer. However, not all joint-stock enterprises were strictly commercial in nature. Stockholders in the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Companies, who were primarily religious dissenters, initially did not seek profit from their enterprises but instead pooled their resources to locate New World colonies that might serve as refuges from English persecution. The colonies of Plymouth (1621) and Massachusetts Bay (1630) thus came into being.

Northern Explorations

Although most English efforts in the New World centered upon colonization, especially following the successful establishment of Virginia and New England, the exploration of North America continued, returning to efforts to locate a Northwest Passage to China. Martin Frobisher made three voyages of discovery into the Arctic waters north of the continent beginning in 1576, but he failed to uncover a water passage through North America. His efforts were renewed by Henry Hudson, who returned to his homeland following his explorations for the Dutch. In 1610, Hudson sailed around the northern reaches of North America and reached the expansive bay of water that bears his name. After extensive efforts to locate a passage beyond Hudson's Bay failed, English efforts again turned to commercial exploitation. The Hudson's Bay Company, founded in 1670 with a monopoly over mineral rights and the fur trade, established several profitable trading posts but declined to aggressively pursue colonization due to the inhospitable climate of the region.


Andrews, Kenneth R. Trade, Plunder, and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480–1630. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Loades, David. England's Maritime Empire: Seapower, Commerce, and Policy, 1490–1690. New York: Longman, 2000.

Mancall, Peter C., ed. Envisioning America: English Plans for the Colonization of North America, 1580–1640. Boston: Bedford Books, 1995.

Quinn, David B. England and the Discovery of America, 1481– 1620, from the Bristol Voyages of the Fifteenth Century to the Pilgrim Settlement at Plymouth. New York: Knopf, 1973.

Rabb, Theodore K. Enterprise and Empire: Merchant and Gentry Investment in the Expansion of England, 1575–1630. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Williams, Neville. The Sea Dogs: Privateers, Plunder, and Piracy in the Elizabethan Age. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1975.

Daniel P.Barr

See alsoColonial Settlements ; Hudson's Bay Company ; Massachusetts Bay Colony ; North Carolina ; Northwest Passage ; Plymouth Colony ; Raleigh Colonies ; Virginia ; Virginia Company of London .


The Dutch came late to the European exploration of North America, having entered the process only after securing independence from Spain in the early seventeenth century. Despite its political subjugation, the Netherlands had emerged during the preceding decades as a force in the seafaring commerce of western Europe. After independence, Dutch merchants quickly cut into the Spanish and Portuguese domination of Atlantic shipping and snared a large share of the evolving textile and slave trade between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Not content with Atlantic commerce, the Dutch increasingly sought to augment their standing in the highly competitive eastern spice trade.

In 1609 Henry Hudson, an English explorer, was hired by the Dutch East India Company to discover a water passage through North America to the Orient. Hudson explored the Atlantic coast and pushed far up the river that now bears his name, but he was unable to discover a passage. Nonetheless, Hudson claimed the lands he explored for the Netherlands and in the process established the foundation for the Dutch colonization of North America.

The Dutch West India Company took direction of Dutch explorations in the New World following Hudson's discoveries. Primarily interested in piracy against Spanish treasure ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean and the hostile takeover of Portuguese slave markets in western Africa, the company turned to colonization as a secondary endeavor to help facilitate its other objectives. The company established a colony, or military post, at New Amsterdam on the present site of New York City, to serve as a base for naval expeditions against the Spanish in the Caribbean. The move paid almost immediate dividends. Over the next two decades, Dutch fleets operating out of New Amsterdam captured numerous Spanish possessions in the Caribbean, including the islands of Curaccao, St. Martin, and St. Eustatius, and even raided the Portuguese colony of Brazil.

In mainland North America, however, the fur trade quickly took precedence as a motive for further Dutch exploration and commercial expansion. Of particular interest to the Dutch were beaver pelts, a lucrative natural resource keenly sought in Europe. In 1614, the New Netherland Company formed to exploit the fur trade and established trading posts along the Hudson River. The Dutch West India Company absorbed the posts soon after the establishment of New Amsterdam and greatly expanded

Dutch involvement in the furtrade. Inland exploration quickly pushed beyond the Hudson River into the Connecticut and Delaware River valleys, and led to the establishment of additional trade depots, including a significant post at Fort Orange (Albany, New York). By 1630, nearly 10, 000 pelts passed through New Amsterdam each year on their way to markets in Europe, firmly linking the future growth and prosperity of the colony to continued exchange with their native commercial partners.


Page, Willie F. The Dutch Triangle: The Netherlands and the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1621–1664. New York: Garland, 1977.

Rink, Oliver A. Holland on the Hudson: An Economic and Social History of Dutch New York. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986.

Savours, Ann. The Search for the Northwest Passage. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Daniel P.Barr

See alsoNew Netherland .


From about 1500 to 1763, French exploration covered an immense expanse of North America. Sixteenth-century French explorers helped improve European maps of the Atlantic coastline and gained knowledge of the people that inhabited the region. They also obtained a tantalizing view of a major waterway, the St. Lawrence. Over the next 150 years, educated Europeans learned about the heart of the continent and its inhabitants mostly owing to the efforts of French subjects. The Great Lakes basin and the water routes north to the Hudson Bay and south to the Gulf of Mexico were progressively unveiled in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century, travels on the Mississippi's tributaries and the western plains gave French exploration nearly continental scope.

The original North Americans influenced what explorers would see by receiving them and serving as guides. They could, if it was in their interest and power to do so, refuse them access to certain territories, routes, or neighboring peoples. Even before Natives accompanied the curious newcomers over the horizon, they shaped their expectations by describing and mapping the interior. Joined with European desires, such information could produce, for example, the mirage of the Western sea, always just out of reach.

The French no doubt covered so much ground in North America because, compared to other European colonists, they occupied little of it. Relatively few in number, the French were forced to accommodate Native interests more than the subjects of rival empires were. Even after their population and power increased, the French colonies continued to rely on Native trading partners and allies over an expanding area for commercial profit and for military assistance against the much more populous thirteen colonies. Franco-Native relations would have been well short of symbiotic even without the deadly impact of European diseases. Still, as the seventeenth century advanced, many Native people in the Great Lakes region became accustomed to dealing with French visitors or neighbors, while many of the Frenchmen, traders, missionaries, and officers acquired the basic diplomatic, social, and linguistic skills necessary for good relations with their hosts. The system tended to expand, as groups in both parties stood to benefit from establishing direct relations. Among the French, traders usually traveled the farthest into Native lands. Some of their secrets eventually reached cartographers in Quebec or Paris, and official explorers could draw on this pool of expertise in preparing for and carrying out their missions. Indeed, most of them financed their expeditions by trading with the people they were "discovering."

First Approaches

The informal geographies of both European fishermen and Native people were important in the first phase of French exploration, lasting until the founding of Quebec in 1608. To Europeans, the eastern outline of North America would emerge from the extremities inward. By 1520, two areas had come into focus: the rich fishing banks off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; and the Caribbean and the curving, invaded continent that bounded it. Like their European rivals, the French hoped to find a direct sea route to Cathay between the two regions, 15 degrees of latitude apart. The Spanish example never far from their minds, they were also more than willing to be sidetracked by any riches they might find, generally at "Indians'" expense, along the way. In 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano, of Florentine origin but in the French service, reconnoitered the coast between northern Florida and, probably, Cape Breton. He concluded he had seen a new continent inhabited by mostly friendly people; the land, quite narrow in places, offered no noteworthy openings to the west. Later French voyagers would take closer looks at this coastline: Jean Ribault north from the future St. Augustine (Florida) to Carolina (1562); Étienne Bellenger from Cape Breton Island to the Penobscot (1583); and Samuel de Champlain from Cape Breton to Nantucket Sound (1604–1606).

The other object of French exploration in this period was the St. Lawrence River and its gulf. On a clockwise trip around the Gulf in 1534, the mariner Jacques Cartier assembled a puzzle, the pieces of which were already known to European fishermen and Portuguese adventurers. A second voyage the following year took Cartier to Iroquoian territory in the St. Lawrence Valley. During a stay full of misunderstandings, Cartier made a lightning visit to Hochelaga, on Montreal Island, and viewed from Mount Royal the rivers extending to the western horizon, beyond which the Iroquoians had told him precious metals (probably the native copper of Lake Superior) were to be found. The conflict-ridden Cartier-Roberval enterprise of 1641–1643 seems to have gone no farther. By the 1580s, most if not all of the valley's Iroquoian inhabitants had mysteriously disappeared. It was Algonquins who would accompany Samuel de Champlain when he retraced Cartier's steps (and redrew his maps) in 1603.

The Great Lakes Region and Beyond

Within, and sometimes beyond, the framework of the developing commercial and strategic alliance between the French and Native peoples, exploration of the interior began in earnest after the foundation of Quebec in 1608. For about sixty years, few Frenchmen ventured into the interior. Champlain himself accompanied allies on military expeditions or visited their country in the years between 1609 and 1616, seeing Lake Champlain, much of southern Ontario, and parts of Iroquoia in the Finger Lakes region. The young interpreter-traders sent to live with the allied nations ranged farther westward, beyond Sault Sainte-Marie by 1623. Missionaries tended to visit regions of the country the interpreters had already seen and would publish detailed accounts of their travels. After the interpreter Jean Nicolet's inconclusive visit to Green Bay in 1634, it was largely travelling Jesuits who, by 1650, had clarified the geography of the Upper Lakes and, in the 1660s, of parts of Iroquoia and the country north of the St. Lawrence River. The Jesuit Charles Albanel also accompanied the first successful French expedition to Hudson Bay, via Lac Saint-Jean, in 1671–1672 (two further routes would be tried in the 1680s).

The expeditions to the Upper Lakes of Médard Chouart Des Groseilliers (1654–1656 and, with Pierre-Esprit Radisson, 1659–1660), an emissary of fur-trading interests, foreshadowed the reorganized trade that would soon send coureurs de bois and ultimately licensed traders in search of Native customers in an increasingly familiar Great Lakes region. The front of exploration now shifted south and west. In 1673, the trader Louis Jolliet and Jesuit Jacques Marquette crossed the Fox-Wisconsin portage already known to traders, and proceeded without Native guides down the Mississippi as far as the Arkansas. From the accounts of the Akamsea, the explorers concluded that the Mississippi flowed into the Gulf of Mexico, and speculated that the Missouri would lead to within hailing distance of the Pacific. Robert Cavelier de La Salle obtained exclusive trading privileges in the Illinois-Mississippi region in 1678. While La Salle's associates would investigate the upper Mississippi, the explorer himself became obsessed with the search for the river's mouth. He successfully reached it by river (1681–1682), but failed to find it by sea or overland from Matagorda Bay (from 1684 until his assassination in 1687). Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville would make the discovery by sea in 1699. Meanwhile, trader Greysolon Dulhut was among the

Santee Dakotas of the Mille Lacs region of Minnesota by 1679 and three of his men went considerably farther west. About 1688, Jacques de Noyon traveled from Lake Superior to Rainy Lake, where the Assiniboines told him of a river that emptied into the Western Sea.

French Exploration: The Last Phase

Slowed for a time by the effects of overproduction in the fur trade, French exploration entered a final, intense phase after 1715. Explorers were drawn westward not just from the Great Lakes but also from the new French settlements in lower Louisiana and the Illinois country. The authorities had now recognized the strategic utility of the fur trade, and it was military officers, avid for prestige but not averse to profits, if only to finance their expeditions, who did most of the official exploring during these years. West of the Mississippi, attracted by the possibilities of trade with the Spanish of Santa Fe, French explorers concentrated for a time on the Red River region. The most noteworthy expeditions of this area saw Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis reach the Rio Grande in 1714, and Bénard de la Harpe cross from the Red to the Canadian River in 1719. Others went up the Missouri. On a thorough reconnaissance of the river and its tributaries, Véniard de Bourgmont ventured as far as the Cheyenne River in 1714–1718. Dutisné traveled into Pawnee country along the Osage River in 1719; Bourgmont went again in 1724–1725, along the Kansas River into Comanche country; and from 1739 to 1741, the two trading Mallet brothers took an epic journey up the Missouri and the (South) Platte, onward to Santa Fe, and then via the Canadian River, to New Orleans. Finally, the Saskatchewan gradually became the main focus of the official search for the Western Sea, a vast, mythical bay of the Pacific. This effort is associated with Pierre Gaultier de la Vérendrye and his sons, whose long (1727–1749) campaign of trade (in slaves as well as furs) and exploration brought them as far as the Black Hills (South Dakota, 1743) and to the Pas (Manitoba) on the Saskatchewan (1748). In the early 1750s, at least one of their successors, Joseph-Claude Boucher de Niverville, may to have come within sight of the Canadian Rockies.

The conquest of New France would place under different auspices French colonists' travels into unfamiliar parts of the interior. French exploration can be seen as 250 years of searching for a direct route to the Pacific (or, at first, the Orient). But it was just as much an encounter of geographies, as French and Native peoples discovered one another, and explorers, both official and unofficial, pieced together North America.


Codignola, Luca. "Another Look at Verrazzano's Voyage, 1524." Acadiensis, 29, no. 1 (Autumn 1999): 29–42.

Eccles, W. J. "French Exploration in North America, 1700– 1800." In North American Exploration, edited John Logan Allen. Vol. 2, A Continent Defined. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Heidenreich, Conrad. "Early French Exploration in the North American Interior." In North American Exploration, edited John Logan Allen. Vol. 2, A Continent Defined. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Johnson, Adrian. America Explored. A Cartographic History of the Exploration of North America. New York: Viking, 1974.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. "A Continent Revealed: Assimilation of the Shape and Possibilities of North America's East Coast, 1524–1610." In North American Exploration, edited John Logan Allen. Vol. 1, A New World Disclosed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

Lewis, G. Malcolm. "Native North Americans' Cosmological Ideas and Geographical Awareness: Their Representation and Influence on Early European Exploration and Geographical Knowledge." In North American Exploration, edited John Logan Allen. Vol. 1, A New World Disclosed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

McGhee, Robert. Canada Rediscovered. Montreal and Hull, Canada: Éditions Libre Expression and Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1991.


See alsoChamplain, Samuel de, Explorations of ; Indian Policy, Colonial ; Jolliet-Marquette Explorations ; La Salle Explorations .


Russian explorations in North America centered primarily on Alaska. They were an integral part of the Russian empire's eastward expansion to Siberia and beyond. As early as the turn of the eighteenth century aggressive hunting had depleted the population of Siberian fur animals. The search for new resources of furs drove the Russians to the North Pacific Rim. The government sponsored an expedition headed by Vitus Bering and Aleksey Chirikov (1741–1742). On 26 July 1741, Chirikov "discovered" Alaska by reaching the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska. In addition, the Bering-Chirikov expedition examined and mapped Kodiak Island, the Shumagin and Commander Islands (Komandorskiye Ostrova), and a few small Aleutian Islands. Abundant flocks of sea otters discovered by this expedition aroused the appetites of eastern Siberian promyshlenniki (fur trappers and fur traders) and triggered Russian expansion to Alaska. Hunting sea otters or simply extracting furs by force from natives and clashing with each other, the promyshlenniki gradually moved eastward, "discovering" first the Andreanof Islands (P. Bashmakov, 1753–1754) and then the Alaska Peninsula (G. Pushkarev, 1760–1762). A fur trader, V. Ivanov (1792–1793) became the first European to explore Western Alaska inland: the Yukon and lower Kuskokwim Rivers. The engineer D. Tarkhanov (1796–1797)

was the first to examine the lower Copper River. Governmental expeditions followed the merchants: P. K. Krenitsyn and M. D. Levashov (1766–1770), and I. I. Billins and G. A. Sarychev (1790–1792) mapped the Aleutian Islands, the Alaska Peninsula, and the Alaskan coast to Kayak Island.

In 1799 the imperial government established the Russian-American Company (RAC), a fur trade monopoly that exercised total control over Alaska. Driven by the depletion of sea otters, the RAC extended its explorations southward. In 1804, overcoming the resistance of the Tlingit, Aleksandr Baranov, the first administrator of Russian America, established New Archangel Fort in the Sitka Sound (present-day Sitka). Trying to find a better way to supply the colony, Baranov's companion Ivan Kuskov explored Bodega Bay in California and there founded Fort Ross, an agricultural settlement that existed from 1812 to 1841. In the 1820s, searching for new sources of furs, the RAC reoriented its explorations northward, sending its agents to inland and northern Alaska, to the Yupik and Athabascan tribes.

Replicating the bureaucratic semi-feudal system of imperial Russia, the RAC pursued a "closed frontier" policy in Alaska (restrictions on independent commerce and settlement). The RAC never exercised full control over native population beyond southeastern coast. Moreover, the number of "Russians" in Alaska, actually represented by people of Russian, German, Baltic German, and Finnish origin, never exceeded 823. For geographical explorations, especially in inland and northern areas of Alaska, the RAC depended heavily on its trade agents of Russian-native origin (Creoles): Andrei K. Glazunov, Petr Kolmakov, Malakhov, Ruf Serebrennikov, and Lukin. Aleksandr Kashevarov, one such explorer who headed a kayak (skin boat) expedition and mapped the northern Alaska coast in 1838, reached the rank of major general in the Russian navy.


Chevigny, Hector. Russian America: The Great Alaskan Venture, 1741–1867. New York: Viking, 1965. Popular history.

Gibson, James. Imperial Russia in Frontier America: The Changing Geography of Supply of Russian America, 1784–1867. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. A seminal work.

Makarova, Raisa V. Russians on the Pacific, 1743–1799. Kingston, Ontario: Limestone, 1975. Heavily grounded in Russian archival sources.

Smith, Barbara S., and Redmond J. Barnett, eds. Russian America: The Forgotten Frontier. Tacoma: Washington State Historical Society, 1990. A collection of scholarly articles, very accessible language, numerous illustrations, all about Russian exploration of and presence in Alaska.

Zagoskin, L. Lieutenant Zagoskin's Travels in Russian America, 1842–1844. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Andrei A.Znamenski

See alsoAlaska .


By the early sixteenth century Spain had established Caribbean bases in Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from which it launched further expeditions into South, Central, and North America. Later expeditions into the American Southwest were begun from Mexico, called New Spain at that time. The object of these explorations was to find glittering wealth, to Christianize natives, and to expand the Spanish Empire. The conquistadors who led the expeditions to North America expected to win land, labor, riches, and even vast realms for themselves.

To these conquerors, Spanish sovereigns granted the right to explore specified areas and rights to the fruits of their conquests. Many of the leaders of expeditions to North America were already wealthy from New World conquests and used that wealth to finance their journeys. Hernando Cortés's conquest of Mexico and Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru were eventually to prove lucrative beyond imagining, but in the short term the exploration and conquest of North America was frustrating, difficult, and unrewarding. Soldiers, settlers, and slaves comprised the expeditions that explored the southeast and southwest of the present-day United States.

The Southeast

Spain concentrated its first exploratory efforts on Florida. Juan Ponce de León, a seasoned veteran of conquest, had sailed with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493, served in the military in Hispaniola, and from 1509 to 1512 had ruled as governor of Puerto Rico, where he amassed great wealth. Eager to gain a realm of his own, he led the first Spanish expedition into North America. In 1513, after receiving King Ferdinand's permission to explore and settle the Bahamas and places to the north, he sailed from Puerto Rico through the Bahamas and reached the east coast of Florida. Because he landed during the Easter season, Ponce named the new territory "La Florida" in honor of the Spanish term for the holiday, "Pascua Florida." After going ashore to claim "La Florida" for Spain, Ponce continued his explorations. Near the coast of Florida he discovered the powerful Gulf Stream, which would later propel Spanish treasure fleets along the Georgia and Carolina coasts before they turned east to cross the Atlantic to Spain. Indians resisted further landings so Ponce returned to Puerto Rico. Believing Florida to be extremely large, he returned to Spain to seek a contract from the king for its exploration.

In 1519, before Ponce put together his second expedition, the Alonzo Álvarez de Piñeda expedition explored and mapped the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, showing Florida to be part of a larger body of land, not an island. In 1521, with his legal rights delineated, Ponce returned to Florida with two ships, two hundred colonists, and fifty horses. He intended to found a settlement, but when he went ashore at Charlotte Harbor and built a temporary structure, Calusa Indians resisted his ingress.

He was wounded by a poisoned arrow and forced to set sail for Cuba where he died a few days after his arrival.

Shortly after Ponce de León's failure, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón received a charter from Charles V to colonize lands along the Atlantic coast. In 1526, Ayllón landed in South Carolina. He then moved south to Georgia where he attempted to settle his colony of San Miguel de Gualdape. Though it lasted less than two months, it was significant as the first colony established by Europeans in North America since the Vikings. Starvation and Indian resistance caused its demise, and Ayllón died along with many of his colonists. The expedition nonetheless yielded useful geographical knowledge of the Atlantic coast.

In 1528, after obtaining permission from King Charles, Pánfilo de Narváez headed an expedition with Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the king's representative, and landed north of Tampa Bay. Narváez marched north looking for gold, but the mission was yet another failure. Having lost touch with his ships, Narváez decided to build new ones to sail back to Mexico. Battered by storms during the return voyage, many died—while others landed in Texas, where Indians took them captive. Only a handful survived their long captivity.

Hernando de Soto led the most extensive exploration of Florida and the Southeast, which lasted from 1539–1543, reaching ten states and covering 4, 000 miles. De Soto was already wealthy, having participated in the conquest of Peru. In 1537 he received a charter from King Charles to conquer and settle Florida. He took hundreds of settlers and substantial supplies. After landing at Tampa Bay in 1539, he traveled north with a party—taking food from the Indians as he moved. He spent the winter of 1539–1540 in Tallahassee, Florida, then headed northeast across Georgia to the Carolinas. From there he crossed the Appalachians and moved west to Tennessee. In May 1541 he reached the Mississippi River. Though Pineda had seen the mouth of the Mississippi, de Soto is credited with its discovery. In addition, his expedition reached Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. In 1542 he returned to the Mississippi River, where he died. The remainder of the expedition returned to Mexico in 1543. A number of accounts described the journey, though the exact route of the expedition is still disputed.

Tristán de Luna y Arellano made the next attempt at exploration and colonization of Florida in 1559. He landed at Pensacola Bay with 13 ships and 1, 500 soldiers and colonists. After a cruel winter, the settlement was abandoned. At last, in 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés was successful in founding a permanent settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, which remained under Spanish rule for over two centuries.

The Southwest

The first expedition to explore the Southwest was triggered by the reports of two of the refugees from the Narváez expedition, who had trod across much of the Southwest during the eight years they were missing. The king's representative Cabeza de Vaca and his former servant, Estebanico, told of the seven "golden" cities of CÍbola, where multistoried houses had windows and doors decorated with turquoise. Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain, sent Fray Marcos de Niza and Estebanico with a small party of Pima Indians to verify these reports. Estebanico was killed when he reached the Zuni villages of New Mexico. Fray Marcos claimed the villages for Spain and then returned quickly to New Spain, still convinced of Cíbola's glory and splendor.

At nearly the same time de Soto was exploring the Southeast, Mendoza sent out a large expedition under the command of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. In addition to hundreds of Spanish soldiers, Indians, and slaves, the expedition included two ships, under the command of Hernando de Alarcón, which were to sail up the Gulf of California to bring heavy supplies. With a small vanguard, Coronado reached one of the New Mexican villages in July of 1540, where he demanded the fealty of the Zunis. Upon their refusal, he attacked and conquered the village. Meanwhile Alarcón had sailed up the Gulf of California and had established that Lower California was a peninsula. He discovered and explored the Colorado River, but he never met up with Coronado again and so returned to Mexico.

When the greater part of the land expedition arrived at the Zuni pueblo, Coronado sent out parties to find the wealthy cities. Pedro de Tovar explored the Hopi pueblos of northeastern Arizona; García López de Cárdenas, who was following the Colorado River, was the first European to reach the Grand Canyon; Hernando de Alvarado explored twelve Pueblo villages near present-day Bernalillo, New Mexico (which the Spanish called Tiguex). Here Alvarado learned of a wealthy city called Quivira from an Indian the Spaniards named "El Turco."

In 1541 Coronado himself set out to find Quivira, which turned out to be a modest Plains Indian village in Kansas. After "El Turco" admitted his fabrication, which was designed to send the Spanish on a fruitless and wearying journey, Coronado had him executed. Coronado and his followers returned to Tiguex where they spent the winter of 1541–1542. In 1542 Coronado ordered the expedition back to Mexico. Though gilded cities were never found, Coronado laid claim to great swaths of North America from California to Kansas and his accounts gave a more realistic appraisal of the settlements to the north.

Juan Rodríquez Cabrillo and Bartolomé Ferrelo set out in 1542 to sail to Asia by following the western coastline of North America. They explored the coast of California and were credited with its discovery. Cabrillo died early in the expedition, but Ferrelo went as far north as Oregon.

Based on these explorations, the Spanish eventually sent out colonizing groups to the Southwest. Juan de OÑate took a group of settlers to New Mexico in 1598. At that time, Spain claimed a large region including present-day Arizona and New Mexico. Santa Fe became the capital of this colony in 1609. Though ousted by the Pueblo Indians in 1680, the Spanish reasserted their rule in 1692. The first missions in Texas were founded near San Antonio in the last part of the seventeenth century, while Father Junipero Serra founded the California mission system in 1769.

Spanish explorations in the southwest and southeast of the present-day United States failed to achieve their immediate goals of finding great wealth, converting Native Americans to Christianity, or locating a passage to the Far East. Rather, the conquistadors aroused the enmity of Native Americans and spread disease and disruption throughout their lands. Many Spaniards lost their lives and their personal fortunes, but they gained knowledge of a vast landscape and its inhabitants and gave Spain a claim to settle large parts of what is now the United States.


Bedini, Silvio A., ed. Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration: An Encyclopedia. New York: Da Capo, 1998.

Cook, Jeannine, ed. Columbus and the Land of Ayllón: The Exploration and Settlement of the Southeast. Darien, Ga.: Lower Altamaha Historical Society, 1992.

Josephy, Alvin M., Jr. Five Hundred Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians. New York: Knopf, 1994.

Milanich, Jerald T., and Susan Milbrath, eds. First Encounters: Spanish Explorations in the Caribbean and the United States, 1492–1570. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1989.

Natella, Arthur A., Jr. The Spanish in America 1513–1979: A Chronology and Fact Book. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana, 1980.

Bonnie L.Ford

See alsoHopi ; Indian Missions ; Mission Indians of California ; Old Southwest ; Pueblo ; Pueblo Revolt ; Spanish Borderlands ; Zuni .


Land Assessment and the Origins of U.S. Exploration

When the United States officially gained its independence from Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the new nation inherited a legacy of imperial exploration that stretched back over 250 years. East of the Appalachian Mountains, especially along river courses and the coast, the country was well-known through long settlement and cultivation. West of the mountains, however, and extending to the Mississippi River, the vast territory that had been ceded by the British to the new nation remained largely unknown to Americans. Except for land speculators like Daniel Boone in Kentucky, Revolutionary War veterans who had fought against Indian tribes along the Ohio River, and traders who had operated in the French and British fur trades, the West was only dimly known to a few government officials who were familiar with the maps and reports from earlier Spanish, French, and British explorations. As Americans came to know the region and then extended their territorial aspirations toward the Pacific Ocean, they would emulate and even compete directly with these and other European powers. In time, however, U.S. efforts to integrate new lands and resources with the more settled parts of the East would ultimately transform the nature of North American exploration from a process of colonization to one of nation building.

One of the first objectives of the federal government in the decades following the Revolutionary War was to fill the gaps in the information provided by past explorers to meet the immediate needs of the new nation. In an effort to extend agricultural settlement and gain much-needed revenue from the sale of public lands, government policy was directed toward rapidly converting Indian lands west of the Appalachian Mountains into private property. This was achieved through land cession treaties with Native peoples and the survey of these lands for sale and distribution. This did not technically constitute "exploration" or "discovery" as either Europeans or Americans would understand those words. But surveys made these lands known to Americans, and concerns about property and settlement—including the separation of Indians from their lands—became the basic motives that would distinguish U.S. exploration from its European counterparts.

Exploration in the Age of Jefferson

Following the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, the United States embarked on a century of exploration that focused entirely on the western half of North America. Initially, these efforts involved the nation in a certain amount of diplomatic intrigue, since they situated the new nation within the broader imperial contests that had so long occupied England, Spain, France, and Russia. At the center of these various European concerns was the search for a Northwest Passage, a navigable waterway across North America that would link the commerce of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. While the existence of such a passage was a waning hope by 1800, the belief that whoever discovered this water route would eventually control the commerce of the continent had long been a consuming interest of President Thomas Jefferson. The success of two British explorers, namely George Vancouver's mapping of the lower Columbia River in 1792 and Alexander MacKenzie's journey across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean via the Frasier River in 1793, gave added urgency to Jefferson's concerns and led to his support of two clandestine but unsuccessful attempts to find a land route between the Columbia and Missouri Rivers.

The fear that Great Britain might dominate the western half of North America ultimately led to the first official U.S. expedition to the West, the so-called Corps of Discovery for Northwest Exploration, under the joint command of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Setting out from Camp DuBois near present-day Alton, Illinois, in May 1804, the expedition traveled up the Missouri River to the villages of the Mandan Indians in what is now central North Dakota, where they spent the winter. The following spring they resumed their trek across the continent, reached the headwaters of the Missouri and crossed the Rocky Mountains, then traveled down the Clearwater, Snake, and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific Ocean, where the party's thirty-three individuals spent the winter. The following year they returned by a similar route, arriving in St. Louis in September 1806.

The Lewis and Clark expedition involved three fundamental aspects of U.S. exploration in the early nineteenth century: land assessment, Indian trade, and imperial rivalry. According to President Jefferson's instructions, the expedition surveyed two major river systems "for the purposes of commerce," sought to convince Native leaders of the "peaceful and commercial dispositions of the United States," and observed "the character" of European concerns in the vicinity of the expedition route. Jefferson also made explicit his desire that expedition members pay special attention to "the soil and face of the country, its growth and vegetable productions," and report on the potential of these lands for future commercial development and agricultural settlement.

While Jefferson had an eye on future acquisition and settlement of western lands, the more immediate interest in finding a transcontinental water route reflected a desire to make St. Louis the center of a global fur trade extending to the Pacific and the markets of the Far East. Establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with Native leaders would promote that goal by undermining the position of imperial rivals in North America's lucrative fur trade. Such relations would confirm the authority of the United States in the newly acquired Louisiana Territory and bring much-needed revenue into the fledgling nation. Lewis and Clark did not find an easy route across the continent, but they at least proved that none existed. On all other counts they succeeded, establishing American authority beyond the Mississippi River and even providing the basis for future American claims to the Pacific Northwest.

There were three other significant expeditions during Jefferson's presidency, two by Zebulon Montgomery Pike, and one under the direction of Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis. Except for the charge to find a route

across the continent, all three mirrored the same concerns that inspired the more famous Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1805 and 1806, Pike led a small military detachment up the Mississippi River to northern Minnesota, searching for the river's northernmost source, establishing commercial relations with tribes previously involved in the French and English fur trades, and assessing promising locales for towns and forts. In the summer of 1806 he embarked on another expedition, this time to the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers, and from there to the Spanish settlements in New Mexico. Pike and his men went up the Arkansas River and through present-day Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, reaching the Rocky Mountains in late November. After a brief reconnaissance to the north, Pike then traveled south to the Rio Grande. He was soon taken into custody by Spanish authorities, who brought him first to Santa Fe and then Chihuahua before releasing Pike and his small party at the border of Louisiana Territory in late June 1807. The Freeman-Custis expedition of 1806 was intended to explore the length of the Red River, and thus assess the southwesternmost bounds of the Louisiana Territory. The expedition managed to explore six hundred miles up the river, but like Pike ran afoul of Spanish authorities, who jealously guarded their colonial outposts against the new American presence to the east.

Fur Trade Exploration

While Spanish authorities effectively blocked the progress of two exploring parties and nearly intercepted the Lewis and Clark expedition (which entered lands claimed by Spain once it crossed the Continental Divide), Spain's power in North America diminished rapidly in the 1810s and 1820s. Conversely, the American presence in the West grew as a result of the fur trade, which became the primary agent of U.S. exploration in the wake of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1808 a former Spanish subject named Manuel Lisa formed the Missouri Fur Company, which included William Clark as a founding member. It initiated a series of trading and trapping expeditions that greatly extended American geographic knowledge of the Upper Missouri River and its headwaters. These efforts were further extended by John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company, which established operations at the mouth of the Columbia River in 1811. The strictly commercial explorations of the fur trading companies provided important information for government officials, primarily through the notes and maps of William Clark, who served as a superintendent of Indian affairs in St. Louis from 1813 until his death in 1838.

The only government-sponsored exploration during the fur trade era was Stephen H. Long's 1820 expedition up the Platte River to the Rocky Mountains and down the Canadian River. Though not an important contribution to geographic knowledge, Long's expedition did chart a good portion of what would later become the Mormon and Oregon Trails. More significantly, Long's well-received Account of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains (2 vols., 1823) presented Americans with a lasting impression of the West, first through his famous description of the Central Plains as a Great American Desert that could not support agrarian expansion, and second through the inclusion of illustrations by Samuel Seymour, an accomplished artist who accompanied the expedition and provided Americans with their first images of the Western Plains and Rocky Mountains.

The exploits of a number of individual fur traders further increased American interest in the Far West. Among these were Jedediah Strong Smith, who trekked from the Great Salt Lake across the Great Basin to southern California and back in 1826 and 1827; Joseph Walker, who traveled the length of the Humboldt River in present-day Nevada and then crossed over the Sierra Nevada to California's Central Valley in 1833 and 1834; and Jim Bridger, who explored the central and northern Rockies during the early 1830s. Artists like George Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller, and John James Audubon often tagged along with military and fur trade expeditions, as did the famous writer Washington Irving. While none ever explored new territory, their works increased American knowledge of the West and made the exploits of western explorers into something of a national cultural event.

Exploration, Conquest, and Nation Building

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of increased fascination with the West was John C. Frémont, whose reports for the U.S. Topographical Bureau became instant bestsellers. Following the collapse of the fur trade in the 1830s, and in the midst of a growing interest in the northern territories of Mexico, Frémont headed three major expeditions to the West in the 1840s. Never claiming to be the Pathfinder that his followers called him, Frémont relied on ex-trappers like Joseph Walker and Kit Carson, who had taken to guiding army explorers and overland migrants. In 1842 Frémont headed an expedition to the Rocky Mountains and the Wind River Range in present-day Wyoming, then embarked on a remarkable circuit of the West the following year. Setting out from Independence, Missouri, in June 1843, Frémont mapped the Oregon Trail across the Rocky Mountains to present-day Vancouver, Washington, headed south through Oregon and western Nevada, and then made a dangerous midwinter crossing of the Sierra Nevada to Sutter's Fort in California. Turning south and then east, Frémont's exploring party traveled through present-day Utah and the Colorado Rockies before returning to Independence in August 1844. By the time he set out for a new expedition to California in 1845, which would lead to his active support of a revolt against Mexican rule in Sonoma, his reports on western landscapes had made him a national hero and fanned American arguments for the conquest and annexation of northern Mexico.

The Frémont expeditions were complemented by the efforts of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, who commanded the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838–1842 to Antarctica, Polynesia, and the Pacific Northwest. Arriving off the Oregon coast in the spring of 1841, Wilkes sent a contingent up the Columbia River to the mouth of the Snake River, while another headed south along the Willamette River, then down to northern California and San Francisco Bay. Wilkes also explored the Olympic Peninsula and the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and proposed that the U.S.-Canada border be set at the north end of Puget Sound. Although Wilkes did not actively encourage out-right annexation, as Frémont would in California, the reports from his expeditions did encourage President James K. Polk (1845–1849) to take a more aggressive stance in demanding that Great Britain forfeit its claims in the Pacific Northwest. Like Frémont's reports, Wilkes's Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition (5 vols., 1844) fostered great national interest in the West and together their geographic surveys updated the information of previous explorations to provide detailed maps on the trans-Mississippi West. The Wilkes expedition also took American exploration overseas for the first time and initiated a level of scientific precision that would increasingly characterize U.S. exploration for the rest of the century.

Following the Mexican War (1846–1848), and in the wake of the great migrations to Oregon and California, U.S. exploration focused on the establishment of transcontinental rail corridors and the survey of new national boundaries. To appease both southern and northern commercial interests, the U.S. Army agreed to survey four transcontinental railroad routes between 1853 and 1855. The northern survey, which approximated the future route of the Great Northern Railroad, moved from Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Puget Sound. The other surveys roughly followed the thirty-eighth, thirty-fifth, and thirty-second parallels of north latitude, with the southernmost route earning the preliminary recommendation of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. The final reports were published between 1855 and 1860 and included illustrations and extensive scientific appendices. The Civil War prevented a final decision on the route of the first transcontinental railroad, which actually followed a route previously mapped along the forty-first parallel by Captain Howard Stansbury in 1849 and 1850. Three of the remaining four surveys also become transcontinental routes at later dates. The U.S.-Mexico boundary was surveyed in much the same manner from 1849 to 1855, with scientific reports and artistic illustrations describing whole new environments to policymakers and the eastern public.

Following the close of the Civil War in 1865, U.S. exploration was increasingly motivated by the expected consequences of railroad building and territorial administration, namely the control of Native populations and the assessment of new areas for settlement and resource development. In many respects an echo of Jefferson's instructions to Lewis and Clark, and like that earlier expedition carried out under the auspices of the U.S. Army, most explorations were conducted in the context of the Plains Indian Wars. George Armstrong Custer's expedition to the Black Hills in 1874, for instance, sought to locate a fort in the heart of Lakota territory to prevent raids on railroad construction crews and the new settlements that sprung up in their wake. The expedition, which included a photographer and university-trained scientists, also assessed the little known area's potential for gold mining and settlement. Similar objectives informed the expeditions of Major Eugene Baker in 1872 and Captain William Jones in 1873.

Science, Commerce, and the United States Geological Survey

While the inclusion of photographers and artists, as well as geologists, topographers, botanists, zoologists, and paleontologists, was commonplace on military explorations of the post–Civil War era, science and art were particularly central to the four so-called Great Surveys of the 1860s and 1870s. These included Ferdinand V. Hayden's U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories, John Wesley Powell's U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, Lieutenant George Wheeler's U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, and Clarence King's U.S. Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel.

Ferdinand V. Hayden was placed in charge of the Nebraska geological survey in 1867, but soon enlarged its purview into a more ambitious survey of the Rocky Mountains. In 1871 and 1872 he explored the Yellowstone Basin and his reports led directly to the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872. From 1873 to 1876 he moved his survey to Colorado, where he was the first American to describe the Mount of the Holy Cross and the Anasazi cliff dwellings of the Four Corners region, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet. John Wesley Powell focused his attentions further south, where he explored the Colorado River region. He made the first known passage through the Grand Canyon in 1869, and repeated the feat in 1871. Powell eventually produced a systematic topographical and geological survey of the 100,000-square-mile Colorado Plateau, but his most lasting legacy came with the publication of his monumental Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States (1878) and its call for restraint and foresight in the use of the West's scarce water resources. Like Powell, George Wheeler explored the Colorado River as well as the deserts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah between 1869 and 1879.

After convincing Congress to fund an intensive study of the mineral resources along the route of the Union Pacific Railroad, the first transcontinental route, Clarence King embarked in 1869 on a ten-year survey that would rival those of his contemporaries in scope, significance, and adventure. Covering a one-hundred-mile wide swath along the fortieth parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Sierra Nevada, the King survey ranged from mountain peaks to desert. Along the way King assessed the Comstock Lode, one of the richest silver deposits in history, climbed and named Mount Whitney in the southern Sierra Nevada, identified glaciers on the peaks of the Cascades, and wrote a number of popular and scholarly works. Nearing the end of his survey, King was appointed the first director of the newly formed United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1879. Intended to consolidate the work of Powell, Hayden, Wheeler, and King under one agency, the USGS reflected King's efforts to use government-funded science to assist private mining interests.

King retired from the USGS in 1881 to work as a mining engineer and consultant. He was succeeded by Powell, who incorporated paleontology, hydrology, and the production of a national topographical map within the purview of the Survey. Following Powell's retirement in 1894, and with the acquisition of overseas colonies in the late 1890s, the USGS also turned to the exploration and mapping of American territories outside the United States. Through the twentieth century, the Survey renewed and strengthened its early focus on locating mineral resources and increasingly became involved in the evaluation of federal hydroelectric and irrigation projects as well as in marine and even lunar geology.

In the twentieth century U.S. exploration also entered a new era of competition with European interests. Some of it involved issues of national pride, as with Admiral Robert E. Peary's claim to have been the first to reach the North Pole in 1909, but most explorers focused on the location of military installations or the discovery of new mineral resources overseas. In 1958, the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) pushed these concerns into the upper atmosphere and eventually to the moon and to other planets, and NASA remains the primary governmental agency responsible for exploration. While NASA took exploration to outer space, most earth-based exploration shifted to private commercial enterprises such as United States Exploration, Inc., an oil and gas exploration company that developed into a leader in domestic and overseas exploration of energy resources. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, U.S. exploration had moved well beyond the topographical interests of early explorers yet remained closely wedded to earlier concerns about commerce, national development, and global competitors.


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Mark DavidSpence

See alsoAmerican Fur Company ; Columbia River Exploration and Settlement ; Freeman's Expedition ; Frémont Explorations ; Fur Trade and Trapping ; Geological Survey, U.S. ; Geophysical Explorations ; Grand Canyon ; Lewis and Clark Expedition ; Long, Stephen H., Explorations of ; National Aeronautics and Space Administration ; Pike, Zebulon, Expeditions of ; Transcontinental Railroad, Building of ; Vancouver, Explorations ; Western Exploration ; Wilkes, Expedition ; Yellowstone River Expeditions ; andvol. 9:Life and Adventures of Colonel Daniel Boon ; Message on the Lewis and Clark Expedition ; The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition .

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