Expeditions, Scientific

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  • During the nineteenth century, scientists participated in government-initiated treks, often associated with the military, to explore western areas from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast. Congress, scientific societies, schools, and business groups provided financial support to some scientific expeditions compatible with their goals. Officials instructed scientists accompanying these expeditions to assess and document information regarding natural resources, topography, and climate; collect plant, animal, and mineral specimens; and survey and map the terrain and rivers in the frontier. Expedition scientists represented various scientific fields, with some fields like botany being well established and others like meteorology emerging as a scientific endeavor.

    Eighteenth-century international explorers had published narratives and illustrations depicting wildlife, trees, and geological resources they observed in western North America, emphasizing that region's uniqueness. U.S. ...

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