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Building an Arctic Tradition

Building an Arctic Tradition

(p.15) Chapter One Building an Arctic Tradition
The Coldest Crucible
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the Arctic exploration by American explorers. American attention turned to the Arctic when the British Admiralty sent John Franklin there in 1845 with two ships and 129 officers and men to complete the Northwest Passage. In 1848, with no word yet, the Admiralty sent a series of expeditions to look for him, focusing on the northern coast of North America and islands off its shores. When Jane Franklin, the wife of the missing explorer, appealed directly to President Zachary Taylor for help, Taylor urged the U.S. Congress to outfit an expedition. The resulting expedition led by Henry Grinnell seemed to have little in common with earlier U.S. exploring expeditions as it did not seek trade, science, or geographical discovery, though it advocated hope for such benefits. Arctic exploration constituted a safer form of conquest, offering many of the advantages of war without the messy commitments of empire.

Keywords:   Arctic exploration, Northwest Passage, British Admiralty, John Franklin, Henry Grinnell, Zachary Taylor

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