The Palmer-Pendleton sealing and exploring expedition (1829–1831) was the first American voyage of discovery to the Antarctic that had official government sanction. For the writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), this expedition was an important landmark in an age when science was beginning to change the American continent socially, politically, and geographically. The shift away from Jefferson's agrarian Utopia was marked tangibly by increased industrialisation, the advent of the railroad, the growth of scientific societies, the beginning of elite professionalisation in the sciences, and this major American Antarctic voyage. In the same year as the expedition left the US, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), philosopher and author, recorded the effect that such scientific and technological changes had wrought upon the literary artist when he characterised the era metaphorically as: ‘the Age of Machinery in every outward and inward sense of that word.’ The belief that a repetitive, blunt mechanism that stifled artistic imagination had entered society led Poe to offer a stark criticism of science and scientific method in his tale ‘MS found in a bottle’ (1832). This tale, written shortly after the return of the Palmer-Pendleton expedition, centres upon a voyage to the Antarctic and embodies some of Poe's finest early writing. Interleaved with the critique of science are contemporary themes of discovery, and the Romantic preoccupation with man's relationship to nature.