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Item #: OP5394-895
EXPLORATION OF THE VALLEY OF THE AMAZON: MADE UNDER DIRECTION OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT William Lewis Herndon 1854 Hardcover Very Good
By Herndon, William Lewis
Price: $75.00


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Washington D.C., R. Armstrong, Public Printer, 1854. 417 pp, 16 b/w plates, appendix, meteorological journal, addendum. Very Good copy in the original publisher's plum cloth hardcover with sunned spine.

33d Congress, 1st session. House of Representatives. Executive, No. 53. House Document. This book is Part I of the Amazon Explorations by Herndon and Gibbon. Part 2 and the map or atlas volume is missing. Fascinating and richly illustrated narrative of South American exploration, with 16 in-text wood engravings.

After serving in the United States Naval Observatory, Lt. William Lewis Herndon was sent to the South Pacific and in 1850 was chosen to lead a "Pacific squadron to return through South America via the Amazon Valley," an expedition planned in hopes of colonizing the region with slave owners, thus eradicating slavery from the southern states, and as a means of preventing English merchants from establishing a cotton-producing industry along the river. Herndon left for Lima in January 1851, where it was decided he would approach the Amazon through Peru and Gibbon through Bolivian tributaries. After difficult passage through Peru, Herndon s expedition reached Tingo Maria, at the confluence of the Monzon and Huallaga Rivers, and on September 25, 1851, "boats were fitted with decks and coverings, the American flag was raised and the Amazon was entered."

Herndon completed his descent of the Amazon in January 1851 and after a month sailed for the United States. Herndon's report, and that of Gibbon, who had successfully descended the Madeira and Amazon, provided a wealth of information. Herndon submitted his complete survey to Congress on January 26, 1853. It contains minute, accurate and very interesting accounts of the aborigines of the Andes, and the Amazon and its tributaries and was instrumental in helping to open up the Amazon River to merchant ships of all nations.

SS CENTRAL AMERICA

Herndon's immortality was assured when he was the Captain of an ocean going sidewheel ship called the SS Central America, which was lost at sea in 1857. The ship was carrying passengers and 15+ tons of gold from the goldfields of California to New York. The ship sank in a hurricane in September 1857, along with 425 of her 578 passengers and crew and 30,000 pounds (14,000 kg) of gold, contributing to the Panic of 1857.

The gold was found in 1988. There are movies on YouTube plus several books on the recovery of the gold, and the legal mess that ensued.

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