Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Overview

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition"(1804–1806) was the first transcontinental
Transcontinental
The fourth largest print media group in Canada, with more than 3,000 employees and annual revenues of $608 million in 2010, TC. Transcontinental reaches, through its multiplatform offering, over 18 million consumers across Canada...

 expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark...

 and William Clark, the expedition had several goals. Their objects were both scientific and commercial – to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to discover how the region could be exploited economically.
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Encyclopedia

The Lewis and Clark Expedition, or ″Corps of Discovery Expedition"(1804–1806) was the first transcontinental
Transcontinental
The fourth largest print media group in Canada, with more than 3,000 employees and annual revenues of $608 million in 2010, TC. Transcontinental reaches, through its multiplatform offering, over 18 million consumers across Canada...

 expedition to the Pacific Coast by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and led by two Virginia-born veterans of Indian wars in the Ohio Valley, Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark...

 and William Clark, the expedition had several goals. Their objects were both scientific and commercial – to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to discover how the region could be exploited economically. According to Jefferson himself, one goal was to find a "direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce with Asia" (the Northwest Passage). Jefferson also placed special importance on declaring U.S. sovereignty over the Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

s along the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

, and getting an accurate sense of the resources in the recently-completed Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

. They were accompanied by a fifteen-year-old Shoshone Indian woman, Sacagawea
Sacagawea
Sacagawea ; was a Lemhi Shoshone woman, who accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition, acting as an interpreter and guide, in their exploration of the Western United States...

, the wife of a French-Canadian fur trader. After crossing the Rocky Mountains, the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in the area of present-day Oregon (which lay beyond the nation's new boundaries) in November 1805. They returned in 1806, bringing with them an immense amount of information about the region as well as numerous plant and animal specimens. Reports about geography, plant and animal life, and Indian cultures filled their daily journals. Although Lewis and Clark failed to find a commercial route to Asia, they demonstrated the possibility of overland travel to the Pacific coast. They found Native Americans in the trans-Mississippi West accustomed to dealing with European traders and already connected to global markets. The success of their journey helped to strengthen the idea that United States territory was destined
Manifest Destiny
Manifest Destiny was the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the continent. It was used by Democrat-Republicans in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid-19th century.Advocates of...

 to reach all the way to the Pacific. Although the expedition did make notable achievements in science
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

, scientific research itself was not the main goal behind the mission.

References to Lewis and Clark "scarcely appeared" in history books even during the United States Centennial in 1876 and the expedition was largely forgotten despite having had a significant impact on increasing American owned land. Lewis and Clark began to gain new attention at the turn of the century. Both the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Louisiana Purchase Exposition
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the Saint Louis World's Fair, was an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri, United States in 1904.- Background :...

, in St. Louis, and the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition
Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition
The Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, commonly also known as the Lewis and Clark Exposition, and officially known as the Lewis and Clark Centennial American Pacific Exposition and Oriental Fair, was a worldwide exposition held in Portland, Oregon, United States in 1905 to celebrate the...

, in Portland, Oregon, showcased Lewis and Clark as American pioneers. However, the story remained a relatively shallow tale—a celebration of US conquest and personal adventures—until the mid-century, since which time the history has been more thoroughly researched and retold in many forms to a growing and appreciative audience. In addition, a complete and reliable set of the expedition's journals was finally compiled by Gary E. Moulton. In the 2000s the bicentennial of the expedition further elevated popular interest in Lewis and Clark. Today, no US exploration party is more famous, and no American expedition leaders are more instantly recognizable by name.

Exploration of the interior before Lewis and Clark


Before 1537 Cabeza de Vaca crossed central Texas or northern Mexico from the Gulf to northwest Mexico. In 1539-42 Hernando de Soto crossed much of the South from Georgia to Arkansas. In 1540-42 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado y Luján was a Spanish conquistador, who visited New Mexico and other parts of what are now the southwestern United States between 1540 and 1542...

 traveled from Arizona to eastern Kansas. Since these expeditions found nothing of value the Spaniards largely abandoned northward expansion. In 1608 the French founded Quebec and quickly spread through the Saint Lawrence basin. In 1682 René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, or Robert de LaSalle was a French explorer. He explored the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico...

 went down the Mississippi from the Great Lakes to the Gulf. The French then established a chain of posts along the Mississippi from New Orleans to the Great Lakes. In 1714 Etiene Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont ascended the Missouri as far as the mouth of the Cheyenne River
Cheyenne River
The Cheyenne River is a tributary of the Missouri River in the U.S. states of Wyoming and South Dakota. It is approximately 295 mi long and drains an area of...

 in central South Dakota. In 1720 the Villasur expedition
Villasur expedition
The Villasur expedition of 1720 was a Spanish military expedition intended to check the growing French presence on the Great Plains of central North America...

 from Santa Fe was defeated by the Pawnee in eastern Nebraska. Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye
Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye was a French Canadian military officer, fur trader and explorer. In the 1730s he and his four sons opened up the area west of Lake Superior and thus began the process that added Western Canada to the original New France in the Saint Lawrence basin...

 opened the area west of lake Superior and in 1738 reached the Mandan villages on the upper Missouri in North Dakota. In 1743 two of his sons
Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye
Louis-Joseph Gaultier de La Vérendrye was a French Canadian fur trader and explorer who took part in extending these activities westerly from the Great Lakes during the eighteenth century, an enterprise for which he and other members of his family were largely responsible...

 reached, probably, the Big Horn Mountains
Big Horn Mountains
The Big Horn Mountains are a mountain range in northern Wyoming and southern Montana in the United States, forming a northwest-trending spur from the Rocky Mountains extending approximately 200 miles northward on the Great Plains...

 of Wyoming. From Hudson Bay, in 1690 Henry Kelsey
Henry Kelsey
Henry Kelsey , aka the Boy Kelsey, was an English fur trader, explorer, and sailor who played an important role in establishing the Hudson's Bay Company. Kelsey was born and married in East Greenwich, south-east of central London...

 reached Saskatchewan River
Saskatchewan River
The Saskatchewan River is a major river in Canada, approximately long, flowing roughly eastward across Saskatchewan and Manitoba to empty into Lake Winnipeg...

, in 1754 Anthony Henday
Anthony Henday
Anthony Henday was one of the first white men to explore the interior of the Canadian northwest. His explorations were authorized and funded by the Hudson's Bay Company because of their concern with La Vérendrye and the other western commanders who were funnelling fur trade from the northwest to...

 followed the Saskatchewan almost to the Rocky Mountains and in 1771 Samuel Hearne
Samuel Hearne
Samuel Hearne was a an English explorer, fur-trader, author, and naturalist. He was the first European to make an overland excursion across northern Canada to the Arctic Ocean, actually Coronation Gulf, via the Coppermine River...

 reached the Arctic coast at the Coppermine River
Coppermine River
The Coppermine River is a river in the North Slave and Kitikmeot regions of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in Canada. It is long. It rises in Lac de Gras, a small lake near Great Slave Lake and flows generally north to Coronation Gulf, an arm of the Arctic Ocean...

. In 1789 Sir Alexander Mackenzie (explorer) followed the river named after him to the Arctic Ocean. In 1793 he ascended the Peace River
Peace River (Canada)
The Peace River is a river in Canada that originates in the Rocky Mountains of northern British Columbia and flows to the northeast through northern Alberta. The Peace River flows into the Slave River, a tributary of the Mackenzie River. The Mackenzie is the 12th longest river in the world,...

, crossed the Rocky Mountains and reached the Pacific twelve years before Lewis and Clark. Provoked by Russian expansion down the Alaska coast Juan José Pérez Hernández
Juan José Pérez Hernández
Juan José Pérez Hernández , often simply Juan Pérez, was an 18th century Spanish explorer. He was the first European to sight, examine, name, and record the islands near present-day British Columbia, Canada...

 explored the Pacific coast in 1774, followed by James Cook
James Cook
Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

 in 1778. This led to a British Sea Otter
Sea Otter
The sea otter is a marine mammal native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Adult sea otters typically weigh between 14 and 45 kg , making them the heaviest members of the weasel family, but among the smallest marine mammals...

 trade with China, the Nootka Crisis
Nootka Crisis
The Nootka Crisis was an international incident and political dispute between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Spain, triggered by a series of events that took place during the summer of 1789 at Nootka Sound...

 and Anglo-American claims on the Oregon country. In 1792 Robert Gray (sea captain) found the mouth of the Columbia River. Later in 1792 the Vancouver Expedition
Vancouver Expedition
The Vancouver Expedition was a four-and-a-half-year voyage of exploration and diplomacy, commanded by Captain George Vancouver. The expedition circumnavigated the globe, touched five continents and changed the course of history for the indigenous nations and several European empires and their...

 explored over 100 miles (160.9 km) up the Columbia, into the Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Up to deep, the canyon stretches for over as the river winds westward through the Cascade Range forming the boundary between the State of Washington to the north and Oregon to the south...

. Lewis and Clark carried a copy of Vancouver's map of the lower Columbia. By 1800 the coast of the Pacific Northwest had been thoroughly explored by maritime fur trade
Maritime Fur Trade
The Maritime Fur Trade was a ship-based fur trade system that focused on acquiring furs of sea otters and other animals from the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and natives of Alaska. The furs were mostly sold in China in exchange for tea, silks, porcelain, and other Chinese...

rs. By the time Lewis and Clark arrived at the mouth of the Columbia, at least 14 maritime fur traders had already visited the river's mouth and estuary.

Thus Lewis and Clark had first to connect to lower Missouri to the Mandan country in North Dakota. Everything west from North Dakota to the Pacific was unknown, except that the Rocky Mountains existed, that the upper Missouri seemed to flow from that direction and that on the other side of the Rockies the large Columbia River entered the Pacific. We might also mention methods of travel. Coronado and De Soto travelled with large gangs of armed men. Hearne and the younger Vérendrye joined bands of roving Indians. La Salle and Mackenzie used professional voyageurs
Voyageurs
The Voyageurs were the persons who engaged in the transportation of furs by canoe during the fur trade era. Voyageur is a French word which literally translates to "traveler"...

 and Indian guides. Lewis and Clark reached the Pacific mostly under their own power.

Preparation


Jefferson had a long interest in western expansion, and in 1780s met John Ledyard
John Ledyard
John Ledyard was an American explorer and adventurer.-Early life:Ledyard was born in Groton, Connecticut, the oldest son of John and Abigail Ledyard and the nephew of Continental Army Colonel William Ledyard...

 who discussed a proposed trip to the Pacific Northwest. When he became President, he asked Congress to fund expedition through the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

, and to head to the Pacific Ocean. He used a secret message to Congress to ask them to fund the trip.

Jefferson read Mackenzie's book about the trip in 1802, and this influenced his decision to send an expedition.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 commissioned the Corps of Discovery, and named U.S. Army Captain Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark...

 its leader, who selected William Clark as his partner. Their goals were to explore the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

, establish trade and U.S. sovereignty over the native peoples along the River Missouri. Jefferson also wanted to establish a U.S. claim of "Discovery" to the Pacific Northwest and Oregon territory by documenting an American presence there before Europeans could claim the land. According to some historians, Jefferson understood he would have a better claim of ownership to the Pacific Northwest if the team gathered scientific data on animals and plants.

The U.S. mint prepared special silver medals with a portrait of Jefferson and had a message of friendship and peace, called Indian Peace Medal
Indian Peace Medal
The term Indian Peace Medals is most commonly associated with circular silver medallions distributed to Native American tribal representatives by representatives of the United States government. They were designed and created by a man named John Reich. They were made in three sizes: small, medium...

s or peace medals. The soldiers were to distribute them to the nations they met. These symbolized U.S. sovereignty over the indigenous inhabitants. The expedition also prepared advanced weapons to display their military firepower. Among these was an air rifle of about .44 caliber, powerful enough to kill a deer. Air rifles of the time were made in Europe by different guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

s than firearms makers. They carried sufficient black powder and lead for their flintlock
Flintlock
Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. The term may also apply to the mechanism itself. Introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the doglock, matchlock and wheellock...

 firearms, knives, blacksmithing supplies, and cartography
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 equipment. They also carried flags, gift bundles, medicine and other items they would need for their journey. Much time went into ensuring a sufficient supply of these items.

Journey


There were 33 people, including 29 participants in training at the 1803–1804 Camp Dubois winter staging area in Illinois Territory
Illinois Territory
The Territory of Illinois was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 1, 1809, until December 3, 1818, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Illinois. The area was earlier known as "Illinois Country" while under...

, near present day Hartford, Illinois
Hartford, Illinois
Hartford is a village in Madison County, Illinois, near the mouth of the Missouri River. The population was 1,545 at the 2000 census. Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1803-1804 here, near what has been designated the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site....

. They left on May 14, 1804, and met up with Lewis in Saint Charles, Missouri
Saint Charles, Missouri
St. Charles is a city in, and the county seat of, St. Charles County, Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 65,794, making St. Charles the 2nd largest city in St. Charles County. It lies just to the northwest of St. Louis, Missouri on the Missouri River, and, for a time,...

, a short time later; the corps followed the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 westward. Soon they passed La Charrette, the last Euro-American settlement on the Missouri River. The expedition followed the Missouri through what is now Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

, and Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

. On August 20, 1804, Sergeant Charles Floyd
Charles Floyd (explorer)
Charles Floyd was a United States explorer, a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, and quartermaster in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. A native of Kentucky, he was a relative of William Clark, an uncle to the politician John Floyd, and a brother to James John Floyd...

 died, apparently from acute appendicitis
Appendicitis
Appendicitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the appendix. It is classified as a medical emergency and many cases require removal of the inflamed appendix, either by laparotomy or laparoscopy. Untreated, mortality is high, mainly because of the risk of rupture leading to...

. He was buried at Floyd's Bluff
Floyd's Bluff
Floyd's Bluff is a hill in southern Sioux City, Iowa that is named for Sergeant Charles Floyd.Floyd, who was the quartermaster for the Lewis and Clark Expedition's Corps of Discovery, was the only fatality during the expedition. The bluff was Floyd's original burial site in 1804, and is now the...

, in what is now Sioux City, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

. During the final week of August, Lewis and Clark reached the edge of the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

, a place abounding with elk
Elk
The Elk is the large deer, also called Cervus canadensis or wapiti, of North America and eastern Asia.Elk may also refer to:Other antlered mammals:...

, deer
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

, bison
American Bison
The American bison , also commonly known as the American buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed the grasslands of North America in massive herds...

, and beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

s.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition established relations with two dozen indigenous nations. Without their help, the expedition would have starved to death or become hopelessly lost in the Rocky Mountains. The Americans and the Lakota nation (whom the Americans called Sioux
Sioux
The Sioux are Native American and First Nations people in North America. The term can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation or any of the nation's many language dialects...

 or "Teton-wan Sioux") had problems when they met, and there was a concern the two sides might fight. One of their horses disappeared, and they believed the Sioux were responsible. Afterward, the two sides met and there was a disagreement, and the Sioux asked the men to stay or to give more gifts instead before being allowed to pass through their territory. They came close to fighting several times, and both sides finally backed down and the expedition continued on to Arikara territory. Clark wrote they were "warlike" and were the "vilest miscreants of the savage race."

In the winter of 1804–05, the party built Fort Mandan
Fort Mandan
Fort Mandan was the name of the encampment at which the Lewis and Clark Expedition wintered in 1804-1805. The encampment was located on the Missouri River approximately twelve miles from Washburn, North Dakota, though the precise location is not known for certain and may be under the nearby...

, near present-day Washburn, North Dakota
Washburn, North Dakota
Washburn is a city in McLean County, North Dakota in the United States. It is the county seat of McLean County. The population was 1,246 at the 2010 census...

.
One chief asked Lewis and Clark to provide a boat for passage through their national territory. As tensions increased, Lewis and Clark prepared to fight, but the two sides fell back in the end. The Americans quickly continued westward (upriver), and camped for the winter in the Mandan nation's territory. Here they met a French-Canadian fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau was a French-Canadian explorer and trader, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He is also known as the husband of Sacagawea.-Early years:...

, and young Shoshone
Shoshone
The Shoshone or Shoshoni are a Native American tribe in the United States with three large divisions: the Northern, the Western and the Eastern....

 wife, Sacagawea who helped translate.

They followed the Missouri to its headwaters, and over the Continental Divide
Continental Divide
The Continental Divide of the Americas, or merely the Continental Gulf of Division or Great Divide, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain...

 at Lemhi Pass
Lemhi Pass
Lemhi Pass is a high mountain pass in the Beaverhead Mountains, part of the Bitterroot Range in the Rocky Mountains The pass lies on the Montana-Idaho border on the continental divide, at an elevation of 7373 feet above sea level.-History:...

. In canoes, they descended the mountains by the Clearwater River
Clearwater River (Idaho)
The Clearwater River is a river in north central Idaho, which flows westward from the Bitterroot Mountains along the Idaho-Montana border, and joins the Snake River at Lewiston. In October 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition descended the Clearwater River in dugout canoes, putting in at "Canoe...

, the Snake River
Snake River
The Snake is a major river of the greater Pacific Northwest in the United States. At long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean...

, and the Columbia River
Columbia River
The Columbia River is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. The river rises in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada, flows northwest and then south into the U.S. state of Washington, then turns west to form most of the border between Washington and the state...

, past Celilo Falls
Celilo Falls
Celilo Falls was a tribal fishing area on the Columbia River, just east of the Cascade Mountains, on what is today the border between the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington...

 and past what is now Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

 at the meeting of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Lewis used William Robert Broughton
William Robert Broughton
William Robert Broughton was a British naval officer in the late 18th century. As a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, he commanded HMS Chatham as part of the Vancouver Expedition, a voyage of exploration through the Pacific Ocean led by Captain George Vancouver in the early 1790s.-With Vancouver:In...

's 1792 notes and maps to find the stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 mountain for navigation.

The expedition faced its second bitter winter, and voted on whether to camp on the south side of the Columbia river (modern Astoria, Oregon
Astoria, Oregon
Astoria is the county seat of Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. Situated near the mouth of the Columbia River, the city was named after the American investor John Jacob Astor. His American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site in 1811...

), building Fort Clatsop
Fort Clatsop
Fort Clatsop was the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Oregon Country near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805-1806...

. Because Sacagawea and Clark's slave York were both allowed to participate in the vote, it may have been the first time in American history where a woman and a slave were allowed to vote. The Corps turned home on March 23, 1806, using canoes, and later by land. On July 3, after crossing the Continental Divide
Continental Divide
The Continental Divide of the Americas, or merely the Continental Gulf of Division or Great Divide, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous, hydrological divide of the Americas that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems that drain...

, the Corps split into two teams so Lewis could explore the Marias River
Marias River
The Marias River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately 210 mi long, in the U.S. state of Montana. It is formed in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Glacier County, in northwestern Montana, by the confluence of the Cut Bank Creek and the Two Medicine River...

. Lewis' group of four met some men from the Blackfeet
Blackfeet
The Piegan Blackfeet are a tribe of Native Americans of the Algonquian language family based in Montana, having lived in this area since around 6,500 BC. Many members of the tribe live as part of the Blackfeet Nation in northwestern Montana, with population centered in Browning...

 nation. During the night, the Blackfeet tried to steal their weapons. In the struggle, the soldiers killed two Blackfeet men. Lewis, Drouillard, and the Field brothers, fled over 100 miles (160 km) in a day before they camped again. Meanwhile, Clark had entered the Crow tribe's territory. In the night, half of Clark's horses disappeared, but not a single Crow had been seen. Lewis and Clark stayed separated until they reached the Yellowstone
Yellowstone River
The Yellowstone River is a tributary of the Missouri River, approximately long, in the western United States. Considered the principal tributary of the upper Missouri, the river and its tributaries drain a wide area stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the vicinity of the Yellowstone National...

 and Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

s on August 11, along with Clark's. While reuniting, one of Clark's hunters, Pierre Cruzatte, mistook Lewis for an elk and fired, injuring Lewis in the thigh. Once reunited, the Corps was able to return home quickly via the Missouri River. They reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806.

The Corps met their objective of reaching the Pacific, mapping and establishing their presence for a legal claim to the land. They established diplomatic relations and trade with at least two dozen indigenous nations. They did not find the Northwest Passage.


Geography, mapping, scientific data



The Lewis and Clark Expedition gained an understanding of the geography of the Northwest and produced the first accurate maps of the area. During the journey, Lewis and Clark drew about 140 maps. Stephen Ambrose says the expedition "filled in the main outlines" of the area. The expedition documented natural resources and plants that had been previously unknown to Euro-Americans, though not to the indigenous peoples. Lewis and Clark "were the first" Americans to describe "the place officially". Their visit to the Pacific Northwest, maps, and proclamations of sovereignty with medals and flags were legal steps needed to claim title to each indigenous nations' lands under the Doctrine of Discovery.

Lewis and Clark's expedition had no greater advocate and no greater beneficiary, than the American Philosophical Society
American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...

 (APS). Their duties, as assigned by Jefferson, were preeminently scientific. Specifically, they were instructed in geography
Geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

, climatology
Climatology
Climatology is the study of climate, scientifically defined as weather conditions averaged over a period of time, and is a branch of the atmospheric sciences...

, mineralogy
Mineralogy
Mineralogy is the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical properties of minerals. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization.-History:Early writing...

, meteorology
Meteorology
Meteorology is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the atmosphere. Studies in the field stretch back millennia, though significant progress in meteorology did not occur until the 18th century. The 19th century saw breakthroughs occur after observing networks developed across several countries...

, botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

, ornithology
Ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

, and zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

. The expedition recorded more than 200 plants and animals that were new to science and noted at least 72 native tribes.

Jefferson had the expedition declare "sovereignty" and demonstrate their military strength to ensure native tribes would be subordinate to the US, as European colonizers did elsewhere. Upon the completion of the expedition the maps that were produced allowed the further discovery and settlement of this vast territory in the years that soon followed.

In 1807 Patrick Gass
Patrick Gass
Patrick Gass served as sergeant in the Lewis and Clark Expedition . He was important to the expedition because of his service as carpenter and he published the first journal of the expedition in 1807, seven years before the first publication based on Lewis and Clark's journals.-Early life:Gass...

 published an account of the journey. Paul Allen
Paul Allen (editor)
Paul Allen was an American author and editor, and a graduate of Brown University.Born in Providence, Rhode Island, he edited a two-volume history of the Lewis and Clark expedition that was published in 1814, in Philadelphia, but without mention of the actual author, banker Nicholas Biddle.This...

 edited a two-volume history of the Lewis and Clark expedition that was published in 1814, in Philadelphia, but without mention of the actual author, banker Nicholas Biddle
Nicholas Biddle (banker)
Nicholas Biddle was an American financier who served as the president of the Second Bank of the United States.-Ancestry and early life:...

.
Even then, all of the report was not completely made public until more recently. The earliest authorized edition of the Lewis and Clark journals reside in the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library is the campus library for students at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana. The five-story library, which is located on the east side of the UM campus, was finished in 1978, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In 1979, it was dedicated to...

 at the University of Montana.

Sacagawea



Sacagawea, sometimes called Sakajawea or Sakagawea (c. 1788 – December 20, 1812), was an indigenous woman who accompanied her husband Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau
Toussaint Charbonneau was a French-Canadian explorer and trader, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He is also known as the husband of Sacagawea.-Early years:...

 on the expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Her son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau was an American explorer and guide, fur trapper and trader, military scout during the Mexican-American War, alcalde of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, and a gold prospector and hotel operator in California. He spoke French and English, and learned German and Spanish...

 was born in 1805 with the help of the expedition.

Though she has been discussed in literature frequently, much of the information is exaggerated or fiction. Scholars say she did notice some geographical features, but "Sacagawea...was not the guide for the Expedition, she was important to them as an interpreter and in other ways." The sight of a woman and her infant son would have been a reassuring sight to some indigenous nations, and she played an important role in diplomatic relations by talking to chiefs, easing tensions, and giving the impression of a peaceful mission.

In his writings, Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark...

 presented a somewhat negative view of her, though Clark had a higher regard for her, and later on provided some support for her children in subsequent years. In the journals, they used the terms "squar" and "savages" to refer to Sacagawea and other indigenous peoples.

See also


  • Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    Timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
    This is the timeline of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the American West .-1804:*May 14 – The Corps of Discovery departs from Camp Dubois at 4 P.M., marking the beginning of the voyage to the Pacific coast....

  • The Red River Expedition (1806)
    Red River Expedition (1806)
    The Red River Expedition, also known as the Freeman-Custis Expedition, Freeman Red River Expedition, Sparks Expedition, or officially as the Exploring Expedition of Red River in 1806, was one of the first civilian scientific expeditions to explore the Southwestern United States...

     and the Pike Expedition
    Pike expedition
    The Pike Expedition was a military effort authorized by the United States government to explore the south and west of the recent Louisiana Purchase. Roughly contemporaneous with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it was led by United States Army Captain Zebulon Pike, Jr...

     were also commissioned by Jefferson.
  • USS Lewis and Clark
    USS Lewis and Clark (SSBN-644)
    |...

     and USNS Lewis and Clark
    USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE-1)
    USNS Lewis and Clark is an American dry cargo ship, the lead ship of her namesake class. It was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark...

  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
    Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
    The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is in St. Louis, Missouri, near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was designated as a National Memorial by Executive Order 7523, on December 21, 1935, and is maintained by the National Park Service .The park was established to...

  • The Far Horizons, a movie of the expedition
  • York (explorer) – the slave on the expedition

Further reading


External links