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Lewis And Clark Expedition

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition

The first United States exploration of the American West and Pacific Northwest came after President Thomas Jefferson's purchase of Louisiana from France in 1803. This exploration is known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Jefferson primarily wanted to know if there was an overland route to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Columbia River and explore the Mississippi River and the land he had purchased from France. Thus, Jefferson chose his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and a young army officer, William Clark, to explore the territory.

Several events led up to the expedition. After Jefferson asked Lewis and Clark to lead the exploration, Congress had to approve the request of expedition; on February 28, 1803, Congress did just that. Jefferson also called a group together to travel up the Missouri River, a gateway to the west, and cross the Rocky Mountains, which was to be headed by Lewis and Clark. They were also supposed to find a river to take them to the Pacific Ocean and learn about the different Indian tribes. He called this group the Corps of Discovery.

The Expedition lasted from May 14, 1804, until September 1806, starting when the Corps of Discovery departed from Camp Dubois in a boat near Wood River. The party later reached Knife River Indian Villages, near present-day North Dakota. There, they built fort Mandan and stayed the winter while gathering information about the other Indian villages. Because of the language barriers, the group needed an interpreter; this is where a Frenchman comes into the picture. Toussaint Charbonneau and his wife, Sacagawea, became the interpreters for the Corps of Discovery. Later, in the spring of 1805, the party continued up the Missouri River and found a tribe of Shoshoni Indians; this tribe was led by Sacagawea's brother, Cameahwait. They provided Jefferson's appointed group with much-needed horses and food.

Finally, in November of 1805, the Corps of Discovery reached the Pacific Ocean. This is where they built Fort Clatsop on the south-side of the Columbia River



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