2 8 The Lewis and Clark Expedition

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition: 

The Lewis and Clark Expedition BY Brian Feeley June 10, 2004 Mr. Tomlin


Introduction In 1803 Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's Corps of Discovery to find a water route to the Pacific and explore the uncharted West. He believed woolly mammoths, erupting volcanoes, and a mountain of pure salt awaited them. What they found was no less mind-boggling: some 300 species unknown to science, nearly 50 Indian tribes, and the Rockies.

The Route: 

The Route

The Louisiana Purchase: 

The Louisiana Purchase Thomas Jefferson expanded the United States by purchasing all of France’s North American territory. This created an abundance of unexplored land that made settlers hungry to migrate.

Jefferson’s Letter: 

Jefferson’s Letter Washington D.C., June 20, 1803 To Meriwether Lewis Esquire, Captain of the first regiment of Infantry of the United States of America. The Object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river & such principal stream of it as by it's course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregon, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purpose of commerce.

BIO: Meriwether Lewis: 

BIO: Meriwether Lewis Meriwether Lewis was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, on August 18, 1774, the second child and first son of William and Lucy Meriwether Lewis. His father, who had served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army, died in November 1779. Lewis joined the U.S. Army in 1794, serving six years in the Frontier Army and rising to the rank of captain in 1800, then serving as paymaster of the First Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. In early 1801, Lewis was appointed by President Jefferson to be his personal secretary. Lewis was a childhood protege of Jefferson’s, and they renewed their bond years later while Lewis was on army duty in Charlottesville, Virginia.

BIO: William Clark: 

BIO: William Clark Captain William Clark, the red-haired co-captain of the Corps of Discovery, was born on August 1, 1770, the sixth son and ninth child from a family of 10 children. All of Clark’s brothers were Revolutionary War veterans, including the famed George Rogers Clark, who commanded Virginia’s troops in the Kentucky region during Jefferson’s term as Virginia governor. Clark began his military career at age 19 when he joined the Kentucky Militia. He later joined the regular army and was promoted to lieutenant. By 1795, he had received successive promotions to leadership positions, eventually attaining the rank of Captain. Ensign Meriwether Lewis was among men assigned to Clark. The two struck up a lasting friendship that would lead to their co-commanding the Corps of Discovery.

Contemplation at Mandon: 

Contemplation at Mandon Although the search for a Northwest Passage was paramount, the Lewis and Clark expedition was also a combined anthropological, diplomatic, and commercial mission to the Missouri River Indian tribes. Meriwether Lewis's standard speech promised military protection and trade advantages in return for peace. The first nations to hear this pitch were the Otos and the Missouris, at a council held on August 3, north of present-day Omaha, Nebraska. The Indians responded favorably, for they needed both market commodities and protection from their northern neighbors, the Teton Sioux.

Standoff With the Teton Sioux September 01-30, 1804 : 

Standoff With the Teton Sioux September 01-30, 1804 The Teton Sioux greeted the expedition and its gifts—a medal, a military coat, and a cocked hat—with ill-disguised hostility. One of the Teton chiefs demanded a boat as the price of passage. When the Indians became threatening, the expedition prepared to meet force with force: Clark drew his sword, and Lewis turned the keelboat's swivel gun on the Sioux. At the last moment both sides pulled back, and the crisis was over. Nevertheless, the expedition had failed to deliver on Jefferson's hopes for friendly relations with the Sioux. The Americans headed up the river—with a potential enemy behind them and a fast-approaching winter ahead.

Among the Nez Perce April 29-June 09, 1806 : 

Among the Nez Perce April 29-June 09, 1806 Almost out of food, the expedition arrived back in Nez Perce territory, where it had to wait until the weather improved before trying to cross the snow-covered Bitterroots. Until their departure the men faced a diet of dried fish and roots, with occasional meat—deer, elk, horse, or dog. During the wait with the Nez Perce, Lewis busied himself with ethnography and nature studies, Clark with treating sick members of the tribe. By early June the expedition was equipped with fresh horses and ready to continue east. Against the advice of the Nez Perce—who believed that the Americans could not make it across the Bitterroots until July—Lewis and Clark left Camp Choppunish and set out for the mountains.

DISCOVERY: Plains Horned Toad : 

DISCOVERY: Plains Horned Toad First Noted by Expedition: May 18, 1804; Lewis sent a specimen to Jefferson from St. Louis, Missouri. Description: Flat-bodied lizard with large crown of spines on head; two center spines longest. Two rows of pointed scales fringe each side. Red to yellow to gray; dark spots have light rear margins. Dark lines radiate from eye. Length: 2.5-7.1 in (6.3-18.1 cm). Habitat: From sea level to 6,000 ft (1,800 m) in dry areas, mostly open country with loose soil supporting grass, mesquite, cactus. Range: Kansas to Texas and west to southeastern Arizona. Isolated population in Louisiana; introduced in northern Florida

Goal: The Rockies: 

Goal: The Rockies In early May the expedition almost lost one of its two pirogues when a sudden gust of wind caught the sails and heeled the vessel over on its side. Only quick action by Sacagawea, who was riding in the vessel, saved precious journals and supplies that otherwise would have been lost. The young woman reached into the river and retrieved as much as she could. By now Lewis and Clark were growing ever more anxious to catch sight of the Rockies, the mountain barrier they knew they would have to cross. In the last week of May, Lewis saw the mountains for the first time. He was filled with joy, immediately tempered by a realization of the challenge that lay ahead. The captains were eager to reach the Rockies, but progress was slow along the frequently bending river, which was now shallow and filled with jutting rocks.

Journal Entry: William Clark: 

Journal Entry: William Clark Thursday, October 17, 1805 "I took two men in a Small canoe and assended the Columbia river 10 miles [16 kilometers] to an Island... on which two large Mat Lodges of Indians were drying Salmon (as they informed me by Signs for the purpose of food and fuel)… The number of dead Salmon on the Shores & floating in the river is incrediable to say — and at this Season they have only to collect the fish Split them open and dry them on their Scaffolds on which they have great numbers.... The waters of this river is clear, and a Salmon may be seen at the deabth of 15 or 20 feet [4.6 to 6.1 meters].... passed three large lodges... one of those Mat Lodges I entered found it crouded with men women and children.... I was furnished with a mat to set on, and one man set about prepareing me something to eate, first he brought in a piece of a Drift log of pine and with a wedge of the elks horn, and a malet of Stone curioesly carved he Split the log into Small pieces and lay’d it open on the fire on which he put round Stones, a woman handed him a basket of water and a large Salmon about half Dried, when the Stones were hot he put them into the basket of water with the fish which was soon sufficiently boiled for use it was then taken out put on a platter of rushes neetly made, and set before me."

Around the Great Falls June 12-July 20, 1805 : 

Around the Great Falls June 12-July 20, 1805 On June 13 Lewis became the first white man to see the Great Falls of the Missouri River. But to his astonishment there were five separate falls, not one as the Indians had said—and they went on for a 12-mile (19-kilometer) stretch. Portaging around the falls was going to take much more time than he had planned. By June 16 Lewis had rejoined Clark, and six days later the portage began. It was the hardest physical task of the trip so far. More than a month would pass before the expedition was around the Great Falls and onto the next stretch of navigable water. Beyond rose the Rocky Mountains.

Among the Shoshone August 08-24, 1805 : 

Among the Shoshone August 08-24, 1805 On August 11 Lewis spotted an Indian on horseback. It was a Shoshone at last, the first Indian they had seen since Fort Mandan. The Shoshone led the expedition to his chief, who in a dramatic stroke of luck turned out to be Sacagawea’s brother. Soon the captains—with Sacagawea translating—were bargaining with the chief, Cameahwait, for horses. Without these horses, their chances of reaching the Pacific would likely have been quashed. At first, a knife and an old shirt were enough to purchase a horse. But the price went up every day, until Clark had to offer his knife, his pistol, and a hundred rounds of ammunition for a single animal. Most of the horses were in poor condition. The captains also secured information from the Shoshone. An old man of the tribe described a trail that led across the Continental Divide. The trail was used by the Nez Perce, who lived on the far side of the Rockies. Now the expedition had a way over the mountains.

DISCOVERY: The White Sturgeon: 

DISCOVERY: The White Sturgeon First Noted by Expedition: November 11, 1805, at Cape Disappointment, Washington. Description: Elongate, rounded in cross section, head slightly flattened; gray above, lighter below. Snout short, broad, pointed; mouth ventral, below eye; 4 long barbels near tip of snout. Length: to 12.5 ft (3.8 m). Weight: to 1,387 lbs (630 kg). Habitat: Over soft bottoms in ocean; in deep pools of large rivers. Range: In Pacific from Gulf of Alaska south to northern Baja California; in fresh water south only to Sacramento River, northern California.

Journal Entry: Meriwether lewis: 

Journal Entry: Meriwether lewis "Ocian in View!"October 08-December 07, 1805 Carried along by the river's breakneck current, the corps rode the Clearwater. They reached the Snake River on October 10, the Columbia six days later. There the Americans paused to rest and meet Indians who had gathered along the shore; in one village Clark estimated there were 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) of dried salmon. Then the explorers headed down the Columbia, portaging around the river's roughest spots in the Cascades, the last mountain range between them and the Pacific. Upon reaching a wide body of water Clark waxed momentous—prematurely. On November 7 he thought they had reached the Pacific: "Ocian in view! O! the joy," he wrote in his journal. But they were actually at the estuary of the Columbia—still 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the coast. Fierce Pacific storms, rolling waters, and high winds pinned them down for three weeks—"the most disagreeable time I have experienced," Clark wrote. But by the middle of November they made it to the Pacific. Eagerly the men scanned the gray, rolling waves of the ocean for the masts of a ship that could carry them home. Eventually, though, they resigned themselves to spending the winter on the coast.

Parting Ways, Skirmishing With Blackfeet July 03-28, 1806 : 

Parting Ways, Skirmishing With Blackfeet July 03-28, 1806 On July 3 Lewis and his group broke camp, crossing the Continental Divide and descending from the mountains near the Great Falls. The captain ordered his men to portage the supplies around the Falls, while he and three of the men went off to explore the Marias River. Lewis and his colleagues knew the Marias was Blackfeet Indian territory—and therefore dangerous. On July 26 eight Blackfeet spotted them. The Blackfeet seemed friendly, and the two groups decided to camp together. Taking no chances, Lewis's men took turns to stand guard through the night. In the morning one of the Indians snatched a pair of rifles, and in the struggle that followed two Indians died. Lewis and his men rode off, covering 120 miles (190 kilometers) in 24 hours, not knowing whether Blackfeet were giving chase. Meanwhile, Clark and his group crossed the divide on July 8 and descended into the territory of the Crow tribe, the great horse thieves of the Plains. On July 21 the party awoke to find half of their horses gone. Yet they never saw a Crow.

The End of the Journey: 

The End of the Journey Now on the home stretch of the journey, the expedition was making as much as 80 miles (130 kilometers) a day. Lewis and Clark began to meet traders who informed them that they had been given up for dead. On the morning of September 23, the Corps of Discovery entered the Mississippi River and at noon disembarked at St. Louis—two years, four months, and ten days after they had left. Gathered along the shore, the one thousand people of St. Louis greeted the returned Corps with gunfire salutes and an enthusiastic welcome.



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