Three U.S. naval officers had designs on scouting out the untamed Amazon River basin, but ultimately not for the scientific reasons they were advertising. Two set out on a bold expedition to explore the region in 1851.
Although the real work of the U.S. Navy during the 1850s was done by its six squadrons at sea, exploring the globe was both more satisfying for ships' crews and likely more entertaining. This was especially so since nothing really threatened ocean commerce now that the turmoil of the revolutions of 1848 in Europe had abated. Exploring, moreover, fit the mood of America immediately after the Mexican War. The prevailing conviction was that the United States was divinely ordained to fill its own continent and that the distant places of the world, thinly settled by "less masculine breeds," should be exploited for American benefit.