On this day in 1840, Captain Charles Wilkes sighted a portion of Antarctica and claimed it to be a U.S. territory.
In his log, Wilkes wrote of his discovery of "an Antarctic continent west of the Balleny Islands." The word Antarctic means "opposite to the north."
(The seven nations that still have territorial claims in Antarctica are Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina, all of which are quite close to Antarctica; and Britain, France, and Norway, all of which are far away in the Northern Hemisphere.)
For more on Antarctica, see this, this, and this earlier post. For more on the Wilkes expedition, see this earlier post.