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Charles Wilkes

Charles Wilkes was an American naval officer, ship's captain, explorer. He led the United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842, his behavior led to two convictions by court-martial, one stemming from the massacre of 80 Fijians on Malolo in 1840. During the American Civil War he commanded USS San Jacinto during the Trent Affair, where he stopped a Royal Mail Ship and removed two British subjects, which led to war between the US and the UK. Wilkes was born in New York City, on April 3, 1798, as the great nephew of the former Lord Mayor of London John Wilkes, his mother was Mary Seton. As a result, Charles was raised by his aunt, Elizabeth Ann Seton, who would convert to Roman Catholicism and become the first American-born woman canonized a saint by the Catholic Church; when Elizabeth was left widowed with five children, Charles was sent to a boarding school, attended Columbia College, the present-day Columbia University. He entered the United States Navy as a midshipman in 1818, became a lieutenant in 1826.

In 1833, for his survey of Narragansett Bay, he was placed in charge of the Navy's Department of Charts and Instruments, out of which developed the Naval Observatory and Hydrographic Office. Wilkes' interdisciplinary expedition set a physical oceanography benchmark for the office's first superintendent Matthew Fontaine Maury. During the 1820s, Wilkes was a member of the prestigious Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, which counted among its members presidents Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams and many prominent men of the day, including well-known representatives of the military, government service and other professions. In 1838, although not yet a seasoned naval line officer, Wilkes was experienced in nautical survey work, was working with civilian scientists. Upon this background, he was given command of the government exploring expedition "... for the purpose of exploring and surveying the Southern Ocean... as well to determine the existence of all doubtful islands and shoals, as to discover, fix, the position of those which in or near the track of our vessels in that quarter, have escaped the observation of scientific navigators."

The US Exploring Squadron was authorized by act of the Congress on May 18, 1836. The Exploring Expedition known as the "Wilkes Expedition," included naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, artists and a philologist, it was carried by USS Vincennes and USS Peacock, the brig USS Porpoise, the store-ship USS Relief, two schooners, USS Sea Gull and USS Flying Fish. Departing from Hampton Roads on August 18, 1838, the expedition stopped at the Madeira Islands and Rio de Janeiro. Next the expedition visited the Hawaiian Islands. In Fiji, the expedition kidnapped the chief Ro Veidovi, charging him with the murder of a crew of American whalers. And, in July 1840, two sailors, one of whom was Wilkes' nephew, Midshipman Wilkes Henry, were killed while bartering for food on Fiji's Malolo Island. Wilkes' retribution was severe. According to an old man of Malolo Island, nearly 80 Fijians were killed in the incident. From December 1840 to March 1841, he employed hundreds of native Hawaiian porters and many of his men to haul a pendulum to the summit of Mauna Loa to measure gravity.

Instead of using the existing trail, he blazed his own way. The conditions on the mountain reminded him of Antarctica. Many of his crew suffered snow blindness, altitude sickness and foot injuries from wearing out their shoes, he explored the west coast of North America, including the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Puget Sound, the Columbia River, San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River, in 1841. He held the first American Independence Day celebration west of the Mississippi River in Dupont, Washington on July 5, 1841; the United States Exploring Expedition passed through the Ellice Islands and visited Funafuti and Vaitupu in 1841. The expedition returned by way of the Philippines, the Sulu Archipelago, Singapore and the Cape of Good Hope, reaching New York on June 10, 1842. After having encircled the globe, Wilkes had logged some 87,000 miles and lost two ships and 28 men. Wilkes was court-martialled upon his return for the loss of one of his ships on the Columbia River bar, for the regular mistreatment of his subordinate officers, for excessive punishment of his sailors.

A major witness against him was ship doctor Charles Guillou. He was acquitted on all charges except illegally punishing men in his squadron. For a short time, he was attached to the Coast Survey, but from 1844 to 1861, he was chiefly engaged in preparing the report of the expedition, his Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition was published in 1844. He edited the scientific reports of the expedition and was the author of Vol. XI and Vol. XXIII. Alfred Thomas Agate and illustrator, was the designated portrait and botanical artist of the expedition, his work was used to illustrate the Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. The Narrative contains much interesting material concerning the manners, customs and economic conditions in many places the

Constitution Beach

Constitution Beach is a man-made crescent-shaped, sandy beach located in the HarborView section of East Boston, a neighborhood in Boston, United States. Opened in 1952 and known to locals as "Shays Beach," its most distinctive feature is that looks directly onto the runways of Logan International Airport and Gang Eapar, so that airplanes taking off and landing on Runways 22L and 22R are about 2,000 feet away, making them prominent both visibly and audibly; the beach is located on 223 acres of land, artificially constructed between December 1949 and May 1951. At that time, 34.1 acres of land was filled in with hydraulically dredged material and gravel to create the beach, which soon after opened to the public in 1952. The beach is located in a protected inlet so the water, though part of the Atlantic Ocean, is always placid. There are bathhouse facilities on the beach, as well as a snack bar, a children's playground, handball and tennis courts, in addition to baseball fields and an indoor ice rink.

The overpass, built at the time allowed pedestrians to cross over subway tracks to reach the beach from the busy Bennington Street. It was replaced by a new structure. Profile at Boston Central Profile at Boston Harborwalk

John Baring (1730–1816)

John Baring of Mount Radford House, Devon, was an English merchant banker and MP. He was the eldest son of Johann Baring, a clothier from Bremen in Germany who had settled in Exeter, where he built up a large business and obtained English citizenship, having Anglicised his name to "John"; the younger John was brought up at Larkbeare, his father's country residence just outside the city of Exeter, was educated in Geneva. He had three younger brothers, Thomas and Charles, a sister Elizabeth. Francis became his business partner and Sir Francis Baring, 1st Baronet. After his father's death in 1748, he inherited the large family cloth business in Exeter. Together with his younger brother Francis, he extended his commercial interests to London by setting up the partnership of John and Francis Baring, of which he was the senior partner, he soon retired from activity in London to concentrate on business in Devon, left the running of the London business to Francis, under whose guidance it evolved into Barings Bank.

Back in Devon, Baring entered politics. Having unsuccessfully contested Honiton, he was elected Member of Parliament for Exeter in 1776, he was appointed Sheriff of Devon for 1776. He retired from Parliament in 1802. Baring married Anne Parker, the daughter of Francis Parker of Blagdon in the parish of Paignton in Devon, by whom he had two sons and four daughters, including: Charlotte Baring, who married John Jeffrey Short in 1786. Short was the son of John Short Sr. of Bickham House, Kenn, in 1744 a partner with John Baring and his brother Charles in the Baring's bank in Exeter. Charlotte's eldest son was John Short who died unmarried and was succeeded at Bickham by his brother Francis Baring Short. In 1755, Baring purchased for £2,100 the estate of Mount Radford in the parish of St Leonards, on the outskirts of Exeter, adjacent to his father's residence of Larkbeare, he purchased the adjoining manors of Heavitree and Wonford. According to a contemporary report, by 1810 he had a residence at West Teignmouth House in the parish of West Teignmouth.

In the last year of his life he encountered financial difficulties and sold Mount Radford and his other Exeter properties to his cousin Sir Thomas Baring, 2nd Baronet, who sold them to a commercial builder