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Meriwether Lewis and William Clark : 

Ryan Neureuter Period 4 Meriwether Lewis and William Clark

Early Life (Lewis) : 

Early Life (Lewis) Meriwether Lewis was born August 18, 1774, near Charlottesville, VA, and was a neighbor of Thomas Jefferson as a young boy. He spent his childhood in the wilderness and developed a love for hunting and exploring the unknown. His father, William Lewis died of pneumonia in 1779 after crossing a freezing river on leave from the military so he could visit his family. Later on in his life Lewis enlisted along with 13,000 others under President Washington in effort to try to end the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1794, Lewis joined the militia and was attached as a soldier of General "Mad Anthony" Wayne commanded by Lieutenant William Clark. The two developed and enduring friendship over there many battles with the British and the Natives. On March 6, 1801, Lewis received a letter from the soon to be President, Thomas Jefferson, offering Lewis a position as his secretary-aid. On February 28. 1803, Congress appropriated funds for an Expedition, and Lewis who had worked closely with Jefferson on preparations for it was commissioned its leader. As he made arrangements for the Expedition, Lewis concluded it would be desirable to have a co-commander. With Jefferson's consent, he offered the assignment to his friend and former commanding officer, William Clark.

Early Life (Clark) : 

Early Life (Clark) William Clark was born on August 1, 1770. He grew up on his family's Virginia plantation, but moved to Louisville, Kentucky when he was 14. In 1789, he joined the militia to fight the Native Americans in the Ohio Valley. He was 4 years older than Lewis and the two shared many things in common. The two were both intelligent, adventurous, resourceful, courageous, experienced woodsmen-frontiersmen, and previous Army officers. In 1803, Clark's army comrade, Meriwether Lewis, invited Clark to help lead an expedition across new uncharted land called The Louisiana Purchase. To prepare for the trip, Clark studied astronomy and cartography. He was responsible for the expedition's record keeping and map making.

The Expedition : 

The Expedition Jefferson hoped that Lewis and Clark would find a water route linking the Columbia and Missouri rivers. This water link would connect the Pacific Ocean with the Mississippi River system, thus giving the new western land access to port markets out of the Gulf of Mexico and to eastern cities along the Ohio River. Along their journey they were assisted by an Native woman by the name Sacagawea (wife of French fur trapper Toussaint Charbonneau) who was a member of the Shoshone Tribe. She was nicknamed “Janey” by Clark. She helped them along the way by translating and keeping relations with the Native tribes. The Group of Americans set up and built Fort Mandan in North Dakota. The Fort was built along side the Mandan Tribe. Both were able to live side by side with good relations. In April 1805, some members of the expedition were sent back home from Mandan in the 'return party'. Along with them went a report about what Lewis and Clark had discovered, 108 botanical and zoological creatures, 68 mineral specimens, and Clark's map of the United States. Other specimens were sent back to Jefferson periodically, including a prairie dog which Jefferson received alive in a box.

Achievements : 

Achievements Geography and Mapping- One of the most significant contributions of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was a better idea of the geography of the Northwest. Lewis and Clark created the first accurate maps of the area. During the journey, Lewis and Clark prepared approximately 140 maps. Before the expedition many Americans were not aware of the size of the Rocky Mountains, many thought they were a days travel to get over with a grand waterway awaiting them on the other side.

Achievements Continued : 

Achievements Continued Natural Resources- A second achievement of the expedition was a better understanding of the Northwest's natural resources. During the journey they found over 100 species of animals and approximately 176 plants. Over the two year journey, the expedition had made more discoveries of landscapes, rivers, native cultures, zoology, and botany of North America than any scientific expedition. Including a prairie dog which was a gift to President Jefferson.

The Sad End : 

The Sad End Unfortunately, the stress and strain of the journey was hard for Lewis to handle. He never wrote the formal report of his experiences that he had promised President Jefferson, and he died three years later in 1809. Clark held up better and lived a productive life until his death in 1838. Meriwether Lewis- 1774-1809 William Clark- 1770-1838 After the Expedition, Lewis was appointed Governor of the Louisiana Territory; Clark was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed to the Superintendency of Indian Affairs.

Native American Relations : 

Native American Relations Another achievement of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was that it established friendly relations with some of the Native Americans. Without the help of the Native Americans, the expedition would have starved to death or become hopelessly lost in the Rocky Mountains. The expedition was especially indebted to Sacagawea their guide and interpreter. The sight of Sacagawea with her baby would have been reassuring for tribes to see leading the 3 dozen Americans with guns. Lewis and Clark may not have found the elusive Northwest Passage and were not the first to explore the west but they were the first Americans to describe and interpret it successfully.

Work Cited : 

Work Cited Boyer , , Clark, and Kett. The Enduring Vision. Sixth Edition. U.S.A.: Suzanne Jeans, Print. "Historic Trails Biography of Meriweather Lewis and William Clark." Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2009. "William Clark." 2010. 3 Jan 2010, 09:36

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