Lewis and Clark made one of the most remembered journeys in American history over 200 years ago. So why are they still remembered today? Their adventure over the newly purchased Louisiana Territory and beyond opened many new avenues for America. It built relationships with Native Americans, found overland routes across the United States, and built morale with a detailed narrative. In short, the Corps of Discovery was one of the most influential journeys for America’s expansion westward.
One of the main objectives of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was to find a trade route from the Pacific Ocean to the east coast. While they didn’t find the fabled Northwest Passage, they did “succeed in defining what was needed for transcontinental travel westward.” (Wells). The trail that the Corps of Discovery forged was not used by most pioneers, but was part of a greater push westward. No explorer had ever done this before. Their discoveries led the way for pioneers to find new and better ways across the continent, and pushed the United States to expand their population to the western coast.
Jefferson’s objectives for the mission also included relationship-building with the tribes native to the United State’s new territory. Lewis and Clark were very successful on this front. Walter Kirn writes, “In time, relations [between Lewis and Clark and the Native Americans] grew friendly, even intimate.” These very relationships would become fraught over time, but this expedition was important in building bonds between the conquered and the conquering. In fact, Lewis and Clark’s good people skills could have prevented animosity and even war. Their mutual adoration and appreciation of “good neighbors” were admirable (Roosevelt). Lewis and Clark completed their mission here and were important helpers for Native Americans’ transition to their future life as United States citizens.
Most importantly, the narrative created and written by the explorers has proved gripping to American and international audiences. The story has the ability to “grow and change, adapting itself to evolving American moods.” (Kirn). James Ronda explains that the story...