The other day I was browsing the National Portrait Gallery and came across a sword (pictured below). The caption caught my attention because it talked about the man who owned the sword, Charles Wilkes, surveyed the Antarctic coast in the early 1840s. Thus I decided to look him up. I found this website that has a great description of his expedition that included visiting Antarctica. His expedition was authorized by Congress and was wider in scope as more of a Pacific expedition. It lasted from 1838 to 1842. His surveying of the coast of Antarctica in 1839 and 1840 provided the earliest conclusive proof that the continent of Antarctica really existed.