Thomas Jefferson was born in Shadwell, Virginia on April 13,1743. He graduated from the College of William and Mary. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769-1775. He held the position of the governor of Virginia from 1779-1781. He also served as the vice president of the United States. He became president of the United States in 1801. He was the third president of the United States. He helped write the Declaration of Independence. He signed it,too. He was the one who sent Lewis and Clark on the famous expedition.
Jefferson asked congress for $2,500.00 for the expedition. In 1803 Jefferson bought the western part of the country from France which was called the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson told them to gather information about plants, animals, the climate, and the geographical features. They were also instructed to follow the Missouri River to its source and take an all water route to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis to head the expedition. Lewis was born in Ivy,Virginia. As leader of the journey he chose William Clark younger brother of George Rogers Clark to be the co-leader. Clark was born in Caroline County, Virginia. Both Lewis and Clark were in the United States Army and were both experienced frontiersman. They boated down the Ohio and up the Mississippi to the mouth of the Missouri. They spent the year there preparing for the journey.
Lewis and Clark took 40 young men,several who had military experience. The expedition was getting ready in December of 1803. They built three river boats, held rifle practice, and became skilled in ways of frontier hardships. On the boats they stored only 100 barrels of goods, a supply of guns, drugs (medicines) medical instruments, and 21 bales of goods for trade with the Indians.
The Lewis and Clark expedition started and
ended in St. Louis, Missouri. On May 14, 1804 they started up
the Missouri River on the "Corps of Discovery." Six
soldiers and 10 French boatman would travel partway up the river.
They had to avoid sandbars and floating trees. Trappers would
raft pass them with lots of fur. They persuaded a Frenchman ,Pierre
Dorion, to go north with them and to help contact the Sioux Indians.
Near Sioux City, Iowa, the expedition suffered their first and
last death there. Charles Floyd died of appendicitis. On down
the river they past cities such as Columbia, Jefferson City, Kansas
City, and my home town St. Joseph. About 5 months later they built
a block house, Fort Mandan, which was near the present sight of
Bismark, North Dakota. They spent the winter there. In the spring
of 1805, about 15 members came back to St. Louis to report on
the journey and the data.
In May of 1805 Lewis and Clark had reached Montana. The land was filled with animals like elk, deer, antelope, and grizzly bears as well. A boat accident almost ruined the expedition. A gust of wind came up and tipped the dugout over. The boat contained all of the papers, books, medicines, and scientific instruments. Fortunately the boat didn't sink. Sacagawea almost lost her life by saving most of the equipment. In October they reached the land of the Mandnan, in North Dakota. Soon they met their new tour guide a French fur trader named Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshone Indian wife Sacagawea, which means "bird woman" were their guides. Sacagawea agreed to be a translator when they met up with Shoshone Indians. They lead the party through the Rocky Mountains on hoses. It would be a hard journey with out horses to ride on. Sacagawea gave birth to a baby boy that winter. On June 13 the men gazed on the Great Falls of the Missouri River, near present day Great Falls, Montana. By this time the men were looking forward to see the Shoshone Indians. They needed supplies, Horses and guides to lead them across the mountains.
Lewis wrote a letter to his mother about the river and how beautiful it was. The party found the Shoshone tribe on the banks of the Salmon River. The indians were frightened at first but they became friendly. The indians recognized Sacagawea and were glad to see her. Her brother, Cameahwait was rejoiced to see her. The indians traded with them supplies, horses, and guides. The expedition crossed the Rockies through the Lemhi and Lolo passes into the valley of the Clearwater River. They met the friendly Nez Perce Indians that gave the travelers food and shelter. The travelers built dugout canoes and headed west toward the Snake River. The Snake River is one of the ten largest rivers in the U.S. There is a waterfall called Shoshone Falls were the river plunges into over 212 feet.
On November 7, 1805 they had reached the Pacific Ocean or they thought they had. They were at the mouth of the Columbia River. Clark wrote in his diary:"Ocian in view! O! the joy. Before the winter they built Fort Clatsop on the Columbia River. In March 1806, after 4 months of bad weather they set back to St. Louis. Near the valley of the Bitterroot River they split up into two parties. Clark's party headed south to the Missouri River and Lewis' party went north across the Rocky Mountains through which is now the Lewis and Clark pass. The following August they met up again. On September 23 the entire party arrived back in St. Louis.
The Lewis and Clark expedition took some 7,690 miles. It took 28 months (2 years and 4 months) for the whole expedition. The Lewis and Clark journey opened up a new frontier for fur trade with the indians but also a route to the west. Lewis later became governor of Louisiana Territory. He then died in 1809. Clark was governor of Missouri Territory and served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. He died a much longer life than Lewis. Clark died in 1838.
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KEY WORD(S):Thomas Jefferson
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