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Lewis and Clark Expedition
Transcript of Lewis and Clark Expedition
The First Part of the Journey
The first two and a half months of the expedition (May 21 through July 31, 1804), the explorers traveled more than 600 miles across rugged terrain. They began in St. Charles, Missouri and ended up at the Platte River. During this time, Clark was mostly in the boat, drawing out maps and making charts. Lewis, however, would go ashore to study soil, rocks, plants and animals.
Before they left, President Jefferson outlined some primary goals he wanted them to accomplish.
To study the Native American people; to see how they lived and to see what tribes were friendly.
To write and draw observations of the plants, animals, geology and terrain of the area.
Main objective -
Jefferson wanted a found direct waterway that went all the way to the Pacific Ocean so it would be easier to expand in the future years.
Before It All
In the year of 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States. At the time the country just went as far west as Tennessee. Jefferson decided to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France. This was most of the middle of the country.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
On December 30, 1803 the United States formally took possession of the Louisiana territory; the Louisiana Purchase had taken place. The President, Thomas Jefferson, wanted to know more about the land he had just obtained, so he sent a group to explore the uncharted territory. The two leaders were Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
The US before the Louisiana Purchase
The land added by the Louisiana Purchase
Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 in Ivy, Virginia. He went to Washington and Lee University. He became known as an American explorer, soldier, and public administrator. However, the main accomplishment that made him famous was his role in the Lewis and Clark expedition. He later died on October 11, 1809 in Tennessee.
William Clark was born on August 1, 1770 in Caroline County, Virginia. Over his life, he acquired the titles of an American explorer, Indian agent, and territorial governor. He lived many places; Virginia, then Kentucky, then finally in what is now known as Missouri. He died on September 1, 1838 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Before they Left
In the summer of 1803 right before they left, Lewis oversaw the construction of a keelboat. This would give them a quick and efficient method for traveling down the Ohio River. During this, Lewis also picked some recruits to join them.
Camp Wood (Camp Du Bois)
As the two men and the rest of their group (called the Corps of Discovery) continued the journey, they were unsure of where their winter camp would be. Then they met a French man named Nicholas Jarrot; he owned 400 acres surrounding the Wood River and allowed them to camp on his land. So on December 12, 1803 they set up what is known as Camp Wood.
Since the Corps of Discovery was technically a military unit, there was strict discipline and training everyday at the camp. The five month stay here full of order really conditioned the men so that they were prepared for the rest of the journey.
The First Formal Native Meetings
First Noted by Expedition on July 28, 1804 by Clark.
Were Farmers/ Hunters.
The few first meetings were relatively successful.
Not much more interest in trading after that.
First Noted by Expedition on August 3, 1804 by Clark.
Also Farmers/ Hunters.
Explorers demonstrated their skills to the natives.
They were impressed but soon lost interest.
Hope of trade was lost.
Death on the Journey
The first and only death during the journey occurred on August 20, 1804. Quartermaster Sergeant Charles Floyd was one of the first to join the expedition. Towards the end of July 1804 he fell ill. Floyd then reported he suddenly felt better. Soon later, he died. Clark diagnosed his condition as bilious colic, however, most likely he died from a ruptured appendix, the "recovery feeling" actually being the appendix rupturing. This was then followed by a fatal peritonitis (infection of the abdomen).
New Life Discoveries
On November 4, 1804, Lewis and Clark hired a French fur-trader, Toussaint Charbonneau. His only condition was that his Shoshone wife would come too. Her name was Sacagawea.
On December 24, 1804, the men finished building Fort Mandan, their winter camp next to the friendly Mandan Indians in the middle of North Dakota.
Jean Baptiste Charbonneau (Pompy)
While they were at Fort Mandan, Sacagawea gave birth to her first son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau on February 11, 1805. William Clark nicknamed him "Pompy". Throughout the rest of the journey, Jean went with them on a board strapped to Sacagawea's back.
The Great Falls of the Missouri
The group departs from Fort Madan on April 7, 1805 and continues on west. However, on June 13, 1805, they come to a "bump in the road": The Great Falls of the Missouri. With no other options, they had to carry all of their gear as well as the canoes down the side of the falls.
The Shoshone Camp
On August 17, 1805, the explorers came across a Shoshone Indian camp. Sacagawea soon recognizes that the chief is her brother, Cameahwait. There is a happy reunion and soon negotiations are going on for some of the tribe's horses. By August 31, they set out again, now with many horses and a mule.
The Bitterroot Mountains
For two days, the crew stops and prepares for the 160 mile trek through the Bitterroot Mountains. They start on September 11 and emerge from the mountains on September 23. There they meet the Nez Perce Indians, who show them a new method of making canoes.
Having reached the Pacific Ocean, the whole group was very excited, however, winter was almost upon them so they decided to build Fort Clatsop in late November of 1805. It was named after the Clatsop Indians who were on the same side of the Columbia River with them. They stayed there until March 23, 1806.
After a very miserable winter, it was finally time to go back. On March 23, 1806, they left and started their way back to St. Louis. The total expedition (there and back) took them nearly two and a half years.
They reached St. Louis on September 23, 1806. All of the members of the exploration were viewed as national heroes. What they accomplished help pave the roads to future expansion into the west.
By Hannah Woodwick