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Explorers of the Pacific: European and American Discoveries in Polynesia

Louis De Freycinst

Louis De Freycinst

1817 to 1820

The next voyage was organized by the French Government to make scientific observations on geography, magnetism, and meteorology. The corvette Uranie was commissioned and Captain Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet placed in command. The artist, Jacques Arago, accompanied the expedition as draftsman, and his account of the voyage, in the form of a series of letters to a friend, has been translated into English.

The Uranie sailed from Toulon on September 17, 1817, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and called at the Ile de France in May 1818. The ship proceeded to Timor and Waigiu, then spent three months in the Marianas. From Guam she proceeded to the Hawaiian Islands, arriving at Hawaii on August 8, 1819. After visiting Maui and Oahu, she sailed for Port Jackson, Sydney, and on the way Freycinet discovered the small, uninhabited coral island to the east of Samoa which he named Rose Island.

After completing repairs and provisioning at Port Jackson, Freycinet sailed for Tierra del Fuego, where he continued his scientific observations. In February 1820 the ship weathered it out under bare poles through a furious hurricane. She made for the Malouines (Falklands) and struck a rock in French Bay. The Uranie was wrecked, but the crew all reached land safely. An American vessel was purchased in the Falklands on April 17, 1820, and named the Physicienne. Freycinet sailed this relief ship to Montevideo and then to Rio de Janeiro, where he stayed three months. He quitted Brazil in September and arrived at Havre on November 13, 1820, after an absence of three years and two months.

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Tattooed Hawaiian Chief, Drawn by Jacques Arago, Artist with Freycinet.