HIST
Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis and Clark Expedition - Lewis and Clark...

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Lewis and Clark Expedition, (1804–06), U.S. military expedition, led by Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lieut. William Clark , to explore the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest . The expedition was a major chapter in the history of American exploration . Commissioning and preparation On January 18, 1803, U.S. Pres. Thomas Jefferson sent a secret message to Congress asking for $2,500 to send an officer and a dozen soldiers to explore the Missouri River , make diplomatic contact with Indians, expand the American fur trade, and locate the Northwest Passage (the much-sought-after hypothetical northwestern water route to the Pacific Ocean ). The proposed trip took on added significance on May 2, when the United States agreed to the Louisiana Purchase— Napoleon ’s sale of 828,000 square miles (2,100,000 square km) of French territory for $27 million. Jefferson, who had already sponsored several attempts to explore the West, asked his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis , to lead the expedition. Lewis was dispatched to Philadelphia for instruction in botany , celestial navigation, medicine, and zoology . He also purchased supplies and spent $20 on a Newfoundland dog, Seaman. Lewis procured weapons at Harpers Ferry , Virginia (now in West Virginia ), supervised the construction of a 55-foot (17-metre) keelboat, and secured smaller vessels, in addition to designing an iron-framed boat that could be assembled on the journey. As his co-commander he selected William Clark , who had been his military superior during the government’s battles with the Northwest Indian Federation in the early 1790s. The U.S. secretary of war denied Lewis’s request of a shared command, but Captain Lewis and Lieutenant Clark chose to address one another as “captain” to hide this fact from the other members of the expedition. For his part, Clark recruited men in Kentucky , oversaw their training that winter at Camp River Dubois in Illinois , and served as the expedition’s principal waterman and cartographer. Expedition from May 14, 1804, to October 16, 1805 Over the duration of the trip, from May 14, 1804, to September 23, 1806, from St. Louis , Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean and back, the Corps of Discovery , as the expedition company was called, traveled nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 km). The entourage, numbering about four dozen men, covered 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 km) a day—poling, pushing, and pulling their 10-ton keelboat and two pirogues (dugout boats) up the Missouri River . Lewis’s iron-framed boat was later assembled and covered with skins near Great Falls (in present-day Montana ) but had to be abandoned because the seams leaked and there was no pitch to seal them. The captains and at least five others kept journals. President Jefferson had instructed Lewis to make observations of latitude and longitude and to take detailed notes about the soil , climate , animals, plants, and native peoples. Lewis identified 178 plants new to science, including bitterroot , prairie sagebrush , Douglas fir , and ponderosa pine , as well as 122 animals, such as grizzly bear ,
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