Lewis and Clark

Two weeks ago, I told you about the purchase of the Louisiana Territory. When James Monroe was sent to Paris, France, President Thomas Jefferson gave him instructions to purchase the city of New Orleans. For this purchase he was advised that the Congress had voted an appropriation of two million dollars. When Monroe returned from France with a signed treaty wherein the United States agreed to purchase the entire territory for l5 million dollars, President Jefferson first searched the Constitution for some word that would give them the authority to purchase land.
He could not find it in the Constitution, so he was in somewhat of a quandry as he had always believed in strict compliance with the Constitution. He could not however pass u p this great bargain. The Constitution did, however, authorize the Federal Government to promote public welfare. So Jefferson approved the Monroe Treaty and asked the Senate and House to approve the treaty and appropriate the money to pay for the territory. After some objections from some Congressmen and Senators, their approval was granted and the great western plains west of the Mississippi became a part of the United States.
Now what was Pres. Jefferson's next move? Well, he wanted to k now just what it was he had bought. You must remember that much of this western land had never been seen by a white man. Traders and trappers had been into some of the remote areas and had brought back tall tales about the country, the Indians, and the animals that inhabited that wild country. Jefferson wanted facts and details so he decided to send out an expedition to look over the land and report back. Do you know the names of the leaders of this group chosen to explore the west: Lewis an d Clark. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
Both were Virginians, officers in the U. S. Army. Both were Captains. Lewis became private secretary to President Thomas Jefferson who selected him to command this important mission. Capt. Lewis selected as his companion Capt. William Clark and they shared the authority as the leaders. The exploring party consisted of twenty-three soldiers, three Indian interpreters and one slave. They even took a baby along and brought it back alive and h ealthy. The baby belonged to the little Shoshone Indian squaw Sacagawea and her husband who made the trip as interpreters. Sacajawea had been kidnapped from her tribe years before and she was very helpful because the expedition was very fortunate to locate the tribe from which she had been kidnapped and her brother was now the chief. The chief furnished Lewis and Clark and the party with packhorses to carry their supplies over the mountains.
The group left St. Louis , Missouri, in the spring of l804 and followed the Missouri River l600 miles northwest to a point near where Bismarck, N.D. is now located and here they went into winter quarters. The next spring they resumed their journey to Great Falls of the Missouri River and then across the mountains to the headwaters of the Columbia River. There they built boats and floated down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. They arrived in middle November and camped for the winter near the ocean.
The group then returned to St. Louis, after traveling over 8000 miles in twenty-eight months, the first Americans to cross North America by land. The records of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the diaries kept by both leaders, plus drawings and maps by Captain Clark contained valuable scientific information and added to the country's knowledge of western geography. The Lewis and Clark expedition told America for the first time what it had acquired by its great purchase, and soon after them came the trappers, t raders, soldiers, settlers, farmers and cattlemen who laid the foundations for the great western empire beyond the Mississippi.

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