The Voyage West Essay

2191 words - 9 pages

Long before Thomas Jefferson had come to be the third president of the United States, he had a dream to explore the West. This dream would end up turning into one of American history's greatest adventure stories of all time. Once he became president he contemplated a project of a western expedition with his private secretary Capt. Meriwether Lewis ( President Jefferson's purpose was to find a land route to the Pacific Ocean to strengthen the American claims to Oregon territory. He also wanted to gather information about what inhabitants the West had to offer.In 1803 Congress approved their plan and agreed to fund a small group to explore the uncharted West. President Jefferson named Lewis to lead the expedition. He had no hesitations in doing so. He would later write, "I had now had opportunities of knowing him intimately." (Stephen E. Ambrose, 1998) In 1802 Jefferson had spent the summer teaching Lewis many things such as zoology, ethnology, and astronomy. He was pleased with his student. Lewis had also had a successful career as a captain in the Army prior to being chosen as the President's private Secretary. He was able to contribute to the expedition because he possessed an extensive knowledge of native plant and animals. Lewis chose one of his prior Army comrades, William Clark, to help lead the Expedition. Clark grew up in Kentucky among the earliest settlers. His brother was a General who was a hero in the Revolutionary War. While in the Army, Clark served during the Northwest Territory Indian wars. He had a sufficient amount of experience to assist in leading the team westward.The President called the team of explorers the "Corps of Discovery." The explorers were to turn in detailed reports on the land's geography, plants, animals, and the climate. They were also ordered to study the customs and languages of the Indians they encountered. Over a period of four years the Corps of Discovery would visualize and experience what no other American had done before.Prior to heading West, the team had to prepare for the long journey they were about to encounter. Even though Jefferson taught a majority of what Lewis needed to know, Jefferson knew he did not have the time nor specialized skills to teach Lewis everything he needed for this exploration. (Stephen E. Ambrose, 1998) Therefore, the President sent him to Philadelphia to meet with his scientific associates to be taught more about natural sciences, astronomical navigation and field medicine. Lewis also began collecting supplies for the trip. He purchased rifles, a tool needed to establish longitude, and the food and supplies. Once the journey began he would not be able to replace any broken items, therefore, he would have to repair them along the way. Lewis and Clark also had to assemble men to take along with them. They thought alike from the very beginning. Together, they decided to bring along "young, unmarried, tough frontiersmen with special skills, such as blacksmiths,...

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