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How The Lewis And Clark Expedition Changed America: Positively, Through Westward Expansion And Indian Relations; Negatively, Through Indirect Destruction Of Native American Tribes

5928 words - 24 pages

As famous astronomer Galileo Galilee once said, "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them." When Thomas Jefferson planned the Corps of Discovery, the proper name of the Lewis and Clark expedition, its main purpose was to help increase American wealth through discovery of the unknown truths of the Louisiana Territory.1 Jefferson hoped that great treasures could be found in the territory, such as fur, land, and water routes that stretched all the way to the Pacific Ocean.2 Although it was not the main objective of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark, Jefferson did make it a goal to share the land with the Indians, and to treat them with the same respect as they themselves would want to be treated.3 The successful completion of this objective would turn out to be extremely important in American history. Directed by their President, both captains went into the wild with the goal of completing the goal set by Jefferson. Although the expedition indirectly led to the destruction of many western Indian tribes, the relationships it produced and helped produce with the Indians had a major effect on the expansion of American commerce and American westward expansion.In 1783, Thomas Jefferson expressed in a letter to George Rogers Clark, brother of Captain Clark, his dream of an expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory for the benefit of the nation.4 The reason was because they had just purchased Louisiana Territory from France, and Jefferson wanted to know what resources would be available there.5 In a letter addressed to Captain Lewis in June, 1803, Jefferson wrote that he wanted to know what vegetation was growing there, what types of animals inhabited the area, and most importantly, at that time, what mineral deposits could be found.6 Although the expedition was planned before the purchase of the territory, its purchase made it possible for the United States to use what might be found.7 This was not possible before May of 1803, when the territory was purchased, because it was not owned by them, and if they had been caught using land that was not theirs, they surely would have been punished.8In addition to affecting the reasons behind the expedition, the Louisiana Purchase also affected the goals of the expedition. One of the main goals of the expedition, as ordered by President Thomas Jefferson, was to find a water route that would stretch all the way to the Pacific Ocean for the "sole purpose of commerce."9 The purpose of this potential route was to increase the efficiency of the shipment of fur.10 Of course, there is no such passage, and Lewis and Clark figured that out when they had to leave the rivers that they were following and cross the mountains that would lead them into the Bitterroot Valley in present-day Montana.11 Another such goal which was supposed to benefit America through the fur trade was to create a friendly relationship with the tribes that they might encounter in...

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