Robert Gray

Robert Gray

Country: USA

  1. Robert Gray - American Explorer and Naval Officer
  2. Early Life and Naval Career
  3. Exploration of the Pacific Northwest
  4. Discovery of the Columbia River
  5. Legacy and Later Years

Robert Gray - American Explorer and Naval Officer

Robert Gray (1755-1806) was a renowned American explorer and naval officer who played a significant role in the exploration and expansion of the United States during the late 18th century.

Early Life and Naval Career

Born in 1755, Robert Gray developed a love for the sea from a young age. He served in the American military fleet during the Revolutionary War, where he distinguished himself as a skilled and brave officer. Gray's experiences in the navy would later serve as a foundation for his future explorations.

Exploration of the Pacific Northwest

In 1787, a group of American merchants organized an expedition to the Pacific Northwest for fur trading purposes. Led by Gray, the expedition set sail on two ships, the "Lady Washington" and the "Columbia." They reached the Nootka Sound in present-day Vancouver Island, Canada, where they gathered a significant amount of fur.

Gray then sailed to Canton, China, selling the fur and purchasing a cargo of tea. Returning to Boston in August 1790, he became the first American to complete a circumnavigation of the globe under the American flag.

Discovery of the Columbia River

In 1791, Gray was sent back to the Pacific Northwest to continue fur trading. While exploring the coast, he spotted a line of white breakers and correctly assumed that a significant river lay beyond. Unable to reach the shore due to unfavorable weather conditions, he returned to the area in May 1792.

On May 11th, Gray finally discovered the mouth of a large river, which he named the Columbia River after his ship. He sailed approximately 30 kilometers upstream before the ship ran aground. After struggling for 10 days, Gray managed to free the ship and returned to the Pacific Ocean. This act of planting the American flag at the mouth of the Columbia River marked the first formal claim of the United States on the territory of the Pacific Northwest.

Legacy and Later Years

The region that Gray explored would later be known as Oregon, and in 1859, it officially became the 33rd state of the United States. As for Robert Gray, he continued his career as a naval officer and completed another global circumnavigation. Upon returning home in July 1793, he retired as commander of the American trading fleet on the Atlantic coast.

Robert Gray's exploration and discovery of the Columbia River played a crucial role in the expansion of the United States and the opening of opportunities for trade and settlement in the Pacific Northwest. He will always be remembered as a fearless explorer and an important figure in American history.