Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Great American Heroes-Lewis and Clark

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned an expedition to explore overland routes to the Pacific coast. He chose his friend, Meriweather Lewis, an Army Captain, to lead this expedition. Lewis selected William Clark as his partner. The two Captains, with a party of thirty four soldiers and ten civilians, departed St. Louis in May 1804 for what was to be a two year and four month journey of exploration. Thanks, in part, to a Shoshone Indian woman named Sacajawea who acted as their guide and interpreter, they made it across the Continental Divide safely, found the Columbia River and reached the Pacific Ocean in November 1805. They divided their party for the trip back, Lewis retracing their route and Clark returning by way of the Yellowstone. They re-joined at the junction of the Missouri and the Yellowstone and followed the Missouri back to St. Louis. Their report to Jefferson read as follows: "In obedience to your orders we have penetrated the Continent of north America to the Pacific Ocean, and sufficiently explored the interior of the country to affirm with confidence that we have discovered the most practicable route which does exist across the Continent by means of the navigable branches of the Missouri and the Columbia rivers." It was perhaps the most successful and influential geographical expedition ever undertaken and truly the beginning of our great westward expansion.

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