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American sealers, the United States Navy, and the Falklands 1830–32

  • Barry M. Gough (a1)

By the early 1830s, American sealers expected free access to the waters and harbours of the Falkland Islands, an active rule over which had not been recognized by the United States. The US government, in the form of President Andrew Jackson and the State Department, adhered to a policy of freedom of the seas, and therefore backed the rights of American sealers to unrestricted access in the South Atlantic. After three sealing ships were impounded by the Argentinian authorities in the Falklands in 1831, the US Navy sloop Lexington, under the command of Captain Silas Duncan, destroyed the island group's capital at Puerto Soledad, and, with it, the Argentine military defences. The State Department informed the Argentine govermcnt that it had no claims, historic or actual, to the Falklands. The American policy of not recognizing the Argentine claims, which continued for half a century, did not interfere with British designs. In 1832–33 the British government issued orders for the Admiralty to send a warship to re-establish British control of the Falklands.

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Polar Record
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