List of "Presents for Natives," July 16, 1841
One of the objectives of the U.S. Exploring Expedition was to collect ethnographic information about the peoples of the South Pacific. The expedition carried "presents for natives" as gifts to promote diplomacy and trade for artifacts. These "presents" included beads, musical instruments, textiles, tools, and armaments, as enumerated on this list.
19 Small Axes, 13 Accordians, 16 Bunches Blue Beads
Office of Naval Records Library, National Archives and Records Administration
Exploring the World
Throughout the 19th century Congress funded expeditions to explore land and sea. In 1836 Congress authorized the United States Exploring Expedition—also called the Wilkes Expedition after its leader, naval officer Charles Wilkes. Its purpose was to circumnavigate the world, promote commerce, and "extend the bounds of science and ... Knowledge." The four-year expedition mapped South Sea islands and Pacific coastlines, established trade, and gathered voluminous information that aided the United States in becoming a leading scientific and naval power.