The Lewis And Clark Expedition Essay

1626 words - 7 pages

In 1800 Thomas Jefferson was elected president. With the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson had the vision of the United States growing from sea to sea. However, it was unknown what was out there. Jefferson planned an exploratory expedition and called upon Meriwether Lewis to lead it. Jefferson was very interested in what was in the west lands. Much was involved in the carrying out of this expedition; the preparations for this trip, what happened during their long journey west, and the return home. This expedition was very important in the development of the United States.

Lewis went to Philadelphia for short courses in medicine, celestial observation, botany, mapmaking, and fossils all to prepare for the expedition. He them obtained rifles, a cannon, and ammunition from the army's arsenals. He bought his men tools, mosquito nets, fishing hooks & lines, blankets, hooded coats, and even 150 pounds of portable soup. Lewis also purchased many gifts for the Indians he expected they would encounter: twelve dozen pocket mirrors, 4,600sewing needles, silk ribbons, ivory combs, handkerchiefs, brightly colored cloths, tomahawks, 130 rolls of tobacco, eight brass kettles, scissors, and thirty-three pounds of beads. Lewis then obtained his final instructions from President Jefferson. Recruiting men for this long journey was all he had left to do before departing. Lewis knew he wanted William Clark to be his equal in leading this expedition. Lewis met Clark in October of 1803 in Clarksville. Their first job together was the careful selection of their crew. Over a hundred men applied to be a soldier for the trip but only nine were selected from Clarksville. On October 26th they left Clarksville and started down the Ohio River. They stopped at an army fort and hired another civilian. During November and early December they drifted down the Ohio river to the Mississippi river and up to St. Louis. From there they sailed up to the Wood River where they established Camp Dubois for the winter. Lewis and Clark completed their preparation during the winter by buying supplies, over hauling their boats, drilling their men, and completing their roster. A total of twenty-five soldiers and twenty civilian boatmen, guides, and hunters were selected for the expedition. Lewis estimated this journey would last at least two years. Finally on May 14, 1804 the expedition began.

They slowly made their way up river with their crew spread out on three boats at the start of this expedition. On slow days they covered four miles and on a good day they covered up to twenty miles. On an average it was about ten miles covered a day. The two captains divided their duties. Clark stayed on the keelboat and managed the men, compass readings, and the distance traveled. Lewis went ashore with his dog almost every day to gather plants, take soil samples, and taking note of the good sites for future settlements. By June 26th, they had traveled forty-three days and four hundred miles....

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