Lewis And Clark Expedition

By | Jun 20, 2013

Beginning in 1801 the United States began an effort to bring New Orleans, which had just changed hands from Spanish to French rule, into the United States. After nearly 2 years of negotiation the United States, who had been prepared to pay 10 Million dollars to the cash starved French discovered that the entire region could be purchased for 15 Million. The deal was settled.

President Thomas Jefferson with hopes of finding a water route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean and after selecting Meriwether Lewis, who had been Jefferson private secretary, to lead an expedition wrote in a letter to Lewis on June 20, 1803;

The Object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river & such principal stream of it as by it’s course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purpose of commerce.”

Lewis selected William Clark to share command of the expedition. Clark was technically subordinate to Lewis in rank, he exercised equal authority at Lewis’s insistence. One of his chief concentration was with the drawing of maps, Clark also management of the expedition’s supplies, and the identification of native plants and animals.

Between 1804 and 1806, the Corps of Discovery, as the expedition was officially named, explored thousands of miles of the Missouri and Columbia River watersheds. Lewis and Clark led the expedition safely across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific and back and only loss one man, who died of apparent appendicitis.

In all there was 37 army members, Clark’s black manservant, two Indian interpreters, Sacagawea, the wife of one of the interpreters, their son born on the expedition, and Seaman, Lewis’ black Newfoundland dog.

Even though Lewis and Clark did not discover a waterway to the Pacific their exploration, notes and Clark’s final map did much to understand the region and to bring about further expansion into the area.


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