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 old were Lewis and Clark when they started their journey?
Meriwether Lewis was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1802. When Jefferson began planning an expedition across the continent, he chose Lewis to lead the expedition, and Meriwether Lewis recruited Clark, who was 33 at the time, to share command.
How many miles did Lewis and Clark travel in a day?
They traveled anywhere from 5 to 20 miles per day – a distance of 14 miles per day was considered adequate – with Clark frequently staying in a boat and Lewis walking along the shore.
What are three facts about Lewis and Clark journey?
The Lewis and Clark Expedition: 10 Little-Known Facts
- After being court-martialed by the Army, Lewis met Clark, who had previously served as Thomas Jefferson’s secretary.
- Thomas Jefferson feared the expedition would come across wooly mammoths, so the Spanish sent soldiers to arrest the expedition.
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.
How did Lewis and Clark decide to spend the winter?
The expedition overwhelmingly decided to follow the advice of the local Indians and investigate the possibility of spending the winter on the southern bank of the river. Lewis, however, decided to scout the area first, leaving Clark and the rest of the group behind.
What are the current states that Lewis and Clark travel through?
The National Park Service administers the Trail, which connects 16 states ( Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon) as well as many tribal lands.
Did Lewis and Clark walk the whole expedition?
The expedition traveled over 8000 miles in total over the course of two years, four months, and ten days, estimating that they had traveled 4,162 miles from the mouth of the Missouri to the Pacific. Thomas Jefferson paid $15 million for the Louisiana Territory, which encompassed 820,000 square miles.
Was Lewis and Clark’s journey successful?
The Corps of Discovery traveled over 8,000 miles in less than 2 1/2 years, at a total cost to the taxpayer of $40,000, and was a phenomenal success in terms of achieving its stated goals, expanding America’s knowledge, and tantalizing curiosity and wonder about the vast American West.
What is a fun fact about Lewis and Clark?
Fun Facts about Lewis and Clark The men on the journey were known as the Corps of Discovery, and the total journey was over 7,000 miles long. Only one member of the group died during the journey.
What was Clark’s slaves name?
York, William Clark’s lifelong slave, is one of the most fascinating members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; his role was remarkable throughout the expedition, and he appears to have been treated similarly to the other men.
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.
Did Lewis and Clark get along?
Lewis met Clark during the 1790s Northwest Campaigns in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, where their friendship began. Both considered the other to be their closest friend, and Lewis’ death in 1809 was a devastating blow to Clark.
How long did Lewis and Clark stay at the Pacific Ocean?
Lewis and Clark, along with the Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery, arrive at the mouth of the Columbia River on November 15, 1805, one year, six months, and one day after leaving St. Louis, Missouri, in search of the legendary “Northwest Passage” to the sea.