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By David Day

For hundreds of years it used to be suspected that there needs to be an undiscovered continent within the southern hemisphere, yet explorers didn't locate one. On his moment voyage to the Pacific, Captain prepare dinner sailed extra south than any of his competitors yet nonetheless didn't sight land. He needed to be content material with claiming sub-Antarctic islands for England's King George. It was once now not until eventually 1820 that the continent's frozen coast used to be eventually sighted. Territorial competition intensified within the 1840s while British, American, and French expeditions sailed south to chart extra parts of the continent that had emerge as known as Antarctica. For the following centuries, the race to say particular ownership of Antarctica has gripped the mind's eye of the realm. Antarctica: A Biography is the 1st ever significant overseas heritage of this forbidding continent--from the eighteenth century voyages of discovery to the explorers of the early 20th century, down to the fierce rivalries of this day, as governments, scientists, environmentalists, and oil businesses compete for keep watch over. On one point it's the tale of explorers struggling with the weather within the so much opposed position on the earth as they attempt for private triumph, advertisement achieve, and nationwide glory. On a deeper point, it's the tale of countries looking to comprise the antarctic into their very own nationwide stories--and to say its frozen wastes as their very own.

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Extra resources for Antarctica

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20 And they had the seal skins to prove it. But the British were not alone. The American sealer Captain James Sheffield and his first mate, Nathaniel Palmer, also had some 9000 skins from the South Shetlands, which they had collected in just fifteen days. The haul emphasised the fortune that could be made from these new sealing grounds. After hearing stories of Smith’s discovery, Sheffield had rushed there from the United States in the newly built Hersilia, owned by Edmund Fanning, a wealthy sealer, merchant and explorer who was based in the Connecticut port of Stonington.

Sheffield’s haul of skins proved him right. 21 No documentary evidence has ever been produced to confirm such visits. 1780–1820 29 With reports reaching New York that there were hundreds of thousands of seals waiting to be plundered, James Byers went ahead with his plan to send a fleet of three ships to secure the seals for himself and his partners. Promising to have his American ships there by October 1820, Byers again petitioned the United States government to send a naval vessel to support the sealers and help establish an American claim to the islands.

Byers was anxious that the same should not happen at this new land, and he planned to establish an American claim to the place by sending building materials with his sealing ships so that a permanent American settlement could be established. Byers argued that only actual occupancy would give the United States a legal claim to the place. But an American naval vessel would also be needed, to ensure that the British Navy or British sealers could not easily expel the Americans by force of arms. 14 Of course, the British were already doing just that.

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