1790: A Ship’s Arrival in Boston Marks the End of a First-of-a-Kind Voyage Across the Globe

August 9, 1790

The Columbia Rediviva became the first ship to carry the flag of the United States around the world. This privately owned ship, widely known as just Columbia, left Boston on September 30, 1787, under the command of John Kendrick. Lady Washington, another vessel leaving Boston at the same time, was commanded by Robert Gray. 

Both Columbia and Lady Washington, reaching the Pacific Ocean via South America’s Cape Horn, found their way to Vancouver Island off the western coast of Canada in September 1788. They remained there throughout the winter. Kendrick and Gray switched commands of their vessels, and Gray subsequently took Columbia – via the Sandwich Islands (now known as the Hawaiian Islands) – to Canton, China. Columbia’s return trip to Boston commenced on February 12, 1790, sailing en route there via Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. 

Columbia has earned an honored place as the first American ship to circumnavigate the world. Nearly two centuries after that historic voyage, for example, the space shuttle Columbia was named after the ship.

Image Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the Columbia Rediviva, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_Rediviva

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