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The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis

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By Meriwether Lewis

In 1803, whilst the U.S. bought Louisiana from France, the nice expanse of this new American territory used to be a clean -- not just at the map yet in our wisdom. President Thomas Jefferson keenly understood that the process the nation's future lay westward and nationwide ''Voyage of Discovery'' has to be fixed to figure out the character and accessibility of the frontier. He commissioned his younger secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to guide an intelligence-gathering excursion from the Missouri River to the northern Pacific coast and again. From 1804 to 1806, Lewis, followed via co-captain William Clark, the Shoshone advisor Sacajawea, and thirty-two males, made the 1st trek around the Louisiana buy, mapping the rivers as he went, tracing the imperative waterways to the ocean, and constructing the yankee declare to the territories of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. jointly the captains saved a magazine, a richly targeted checklist of the natural world they sighted, the Indian tribes they encountered, and the awe-inspiring panorama they traversed, from their base camp close to present-day St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River. In maintaining this list they made an incomparable contribution to the literature of exploration and the writing of common background. The Journals of Lewis and Clark, writes Bernard DeVoto, was once ''the first document at the West, at the usa over the hill and past the sundown, at the province of the yankee destiny. There hasn't ever been one other so first-class or so influential...It chuffed wish and created wish: the will of the westering nation.''

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Water transport by way of the Ohio River system and the Mississippi afforded the trans-Alleghany region its only practicable trade outlet. Primarily for that reason the West was but loosely attached to the federal union, which after all in 1801 had been in existence for only twelve years. Throughout the life of the Republic many Westerners had argued and agitated, and some had conspired, for Page xxx the secession or separation of the West, in order to attach the area to Spain, France, or Great Britain, or to establish an independent republic which could make favorable arrangements with one of these countries.

The expedition was of proper, though minimal, size. 14 The company was recruited with good judgment and was physically hardened and well disciplined by six months of cantonment life in the winter of 18034, on the Illinois shore, opposite the mouth of the Missouri. 15 Moses Reed 14 Obviously, the inventories which Thwaites found and published fail to list the equipment and supplies in full. For instance, in caches at the Three Forks, at the head of the Jefferson, and at Canoe Camp on the Clearwater, almost as much gunpowder is deposited as the inventories show this on an expedition that had been using gunpowder daily since it left St.

Finally, there was the increased but still deluded hope that the expedition could produce a general prairie peace. It was to induce the tribes to make sacredly binding treaties with one another and it was to persuade delegations of chiefs to travel to Washington, to be impressed by the power and splendor of American civilization. Two further points. Jefferson's instructions to Lewis say that he need not pay so much attention to the northern affluents of the Missouri River as to the southern ones, for it may be assumed that the British fur companies have pretty well found out whatever should be known about them.

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