Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American overland exploration of the American West and Pacific Northwest, departing in May, 1804 from St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast and ending in September 1806. The expedition was commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson and guided byf Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The exploration covered a total of about about 8000 miles round trip, from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson trusted in the existence of a Northwest Passage, a water way between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The main goal of the expedition ...view middle of the document...
Jefferson really thought that the people who controlled the water passage through the continent could command the fate of all North America.
Captain Meriwether Lewis was President Jefferson’s first choice, who was his secretary, to lead the expedition. Lewis was an an experienced naturalist and also an army officer. He had all the qualities to complete this task: education, energy, and commitment. After talking to scientists and physicians including Benjamin Barton and Benjamin Rush and surveyors like Andrew Ellicott in 1803, Jefferson finished his expedition instructions. In these exploration instructions, He itemized a lot of areas of questions for the expedition, ranging from zoology and botany to linguistics and astronomy. Jefferson looked for information about everything including animals, plants, mountains, rivers, and different ingenuous cultures.
This was not going to be a simple task and too big for just Lewis to handle. So he wanted his army friend, William Clark, to help command the expedition with him. Even though Clark was lower rank than Lewis, Lewis, Clark, and Jefferson considered each one of them an equal leader of what came to be know as the Corps of Discovery.
Before Lewis and Clark departed on their expedition, America bought the Louisiana Purchase from the France in 1803. This was the vast amount of land in central North America. Now the journey was more important because Lewis and Clark would be proclaiming American power in this new area of the continent.
The formal name of the expedition team was The Corps of Discovery. The president did not realize how many people would be needed to complete this task. Lewis and Clark enlisted a larger group of boatmen, soldiers, and hunters. When they left for the expedition up the Missouri River they had up to forty-eight men at Wood River which was outside St. Louis. Some other adventurers that played a major role in the American western expansion included George Drouillard and John Colter.
How President Jefferson’s notion of American geography was the route that Lewis and Clark followed out West. The Missouri River seemed to Jefferson to be the most practical way to travel across the continent to the waters in the Rockies. After climbing over the Rocky Mountains he thought that the Corps of Discovery would find another river leading straight to the Pacific Ocean. But, the speculations of President Jefferson about the geography did not match what Lewis and Clark experienced.
Lewis and Clark split leadership duties up. Clark served as the negotiator and mapmaker while Lewis became the team’s naturalist. In the first season of the journey which spanned May to October 1804, the expedition set out on May 21. Once Lewis and Clark followed their way up the Missouri River and got around the North Dakota area they built Fort Mandan where they stayed with the Hidatsa people during the winter. In Iowa the Corps of Discovery suffered their first fatality when Sergeant...