Lewis and Clark Expedition
Meriwether Lewis was tasked with exploring lands west of the Mississippi River, and his expedition was a huge success, providing new geographic, ecological, and social information about previously uncharted areas of North America.
Who Were Lewis and Clark?
President George Washington commissioned Meriwether Lewis as a lieutenant of infantry, and William Clark joined the Virginia state militia and then the United States Army at the age of 19. They embarked on an epic journey that would shape America’s history seven years later.
Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe negotiated a deal with France to buy the Louisiana Territory for $15 million in 1803. Surveyor John Lewis led an expedition to survey the lands of the so-called Louisiana Purchase.
Preparations for the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Lewis studied medicine, botany, astronomy, and zoology, and enlisted the help of his friend Clark to lead the expedition, which included surveying instruments such as compasses, quadrants, telescopes, sextants, and a chronometer, as well as camping supplies.
The Expedition Begins
Lewis and Clark chose unmarried, healthy men who were good hunters and knew survival skills for their “Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery,” and they ruled the Corps with an iron fist, handing out harsh punishments such as bareback lashing.
Lewis and Clark: Native American Encounters
Around 50 Native American tribes were encountered by Lewis and Clark, who bartered goods and presented the tribe’s leader with a Jefferson Indian Peace Medal. Some Indians had previously met “white men” and were friendly and open to trade, while others were suspicious of Lewis and Clark and their intentions.
While Clark prepared new maps, the Corps spent the next five months hunting, forging, and making canoes, ropes, leather clothing, and moccasins. The men were in good health overall, according to Clark’s journal, with the exception of those suffering from venereal disease.
Sacagawea was kidnapped by Hidatsa Indians at the age of 12 and sold to Charbonneau, where she became an invaluable asset for Lewis and Clark. Sacagawea gave birth to a son named Jean Baptiste on February 11, 1805.
Lewis and Clark Cross the Continental Divide
Many of the party suffered from frostbite, hunger, dehydration, bad weather, and freezing temperatures. On April 7, 1805, Lewis and Clark sent some of their crew and their keelboat back to St. Louis, while the rest of the Corps headed for the Pacific.
Everyone struggled to keep themselves and their supplies dry and fought an ongoing battle with fleas and other insects near present-day Astoria, Oregon.
Lewis and Clark Journey Home
In 1806 Lewis and Clark crossed the Bitterroot Mountains to explore the Missouri River basin, with Lewis’ group exploring the Marias River and Clark’s group traveling south along the Yellowstone River, with the two groups planning to meet in North Dakota where the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers meet.
Near present-day Cut Bank, Montana, Lewis and Clark killed two Blackfeet warriors; the site is now a national monument managed by the US Department of the Interior. In 1806, Lewis carved Pompey’s Pillar on a rock formation near the Yellowstone River in honor of Sacagawea’s son.
Lewis and Clark Expedition Legacy
Lewis died in 1809 of two gunshot wounds, possibly self-inflicted, after traveling more than 8,000 miles and surveying the Louisiana Territory. Despite Lewis’ tragic end, his expedition with Clark remains one of America’s most famous, helping to strengthen America’s claim to the West.
How many days was Lewis and Clark’s journey?
The Corps of Discovery, as the expedition company was known, traveled nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean and back during the trip, which lasted from May 14, 1804, to September 23, 1806, from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Pacific Ocean and back.
When did Lewis and Clark return home?
The 23rd of September 1806 was Lewis and Clark’s return home day.
Who helped Lewis and Clark survive on their journey?
Despite Lewis’ tragic death, his expedition with Clark is one of America’s most famous, as the duo and their crew strengthened America’s claim to the West with the help of Sacagawea and other Native Americans, and inspired countless other explorers and western pioneers.
What was Lewis and Clark’s salary?
Meriwether Lewis was paid a total of $2,776.22 (including his allowance) for 47 months of service, plus 1,600 acres of land*, while Captain Clark was paid a total of $2,113.74 (including subsistence allowance) for 47 months of service, plus the 1,600 acres of land.
What did Clark name his first born child?
Clark and his wife, Julia Hancock, had five children, the eldest of whom he named Meriwether Lewis.) Clark was a devoted family man and a valued friend.
What happened to Lewis and Clark after they returned?
The corps established Fort Clatsop, near present-day Astoria, Oregon, as its winter quarters after reaching the Pacific Ocean in November 1805, and then returned home to St. Louis on March 23, 1806.
What bad things did Lewis and Clark do?
Lewis was shot in the buttocks by an enlisted man who mistook him for an elk on the way back, forcing him to spend a few miserable weeks lying on his stomach in a canoe while the expedition floated down the Missouri River.
What did Clark and Lewis discover?
Lewis and Clark’s expedition mapped uncharted land, rivers, and mountains, and returned with journals filled with information about Native American tribes and scientific notes about plants and animals they’d never seen before, as well as storiesu2014stories that inspired other Americans to travel west.
How many animals did Lewis and Clark discover?
However, Lewis and Clark discovered 122 animal species on their 8,000-mile journey from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back in 1804-1806, including iconic American animals like the grizzly bear, coyote, prairie dog, and bighorn sheep.
What did Lewis and Clark spend most of their time doing?
What did Lewis and Clark spend the majority of their time doing? Clark spent most of his time on the keel boat charting the course and making maps, while Lewis spent much of his time ashore studying the rock formations, soil animals, and plants along the way.
Did Lewis and Clark find the Northwest Passage?
Although Lewis and Clark did not discover a direct Northwest Passage, they did pave the way for thousands of others to settle in the northwest United States in the century that followed.
Did Lewis and Clark’s trip achieve Jefferson’s goals?
Although the Corps of Discovery did not succeed in finding an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean (because none existed), it did achieve many of Jefferson’s objectives.