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At the beginning of the 19th Century Thomas Jefferson had a vision of what America was to become. This vision encompassed a new America that commanded the trade routes from Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, thus forcing the European Nations of England, France and Spain out of North America. In order to do this The United States needed to find a new route from New Orleans to the pacific coast. By commanding the waterways the United States would control the trade.

Jefferson had previously instigated three unsuccessful attempts to find a route to the Pacific, 1783 by George Rogers Clark (brother of William Clark), 1787-88 by John Ledyard, and in 1793 by Andre Michaux, but all fell short of their intended goal. However, holding onto his dream to expand the borders of the United States from sea to sea, President Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase from the French in 1803. The purchase of this large mass of land west of the Mississippi River is one of the most important events in the history of the world.  Thomas Jeffersonís next plan after making this massive purchase was to attempt another expedition to explore the territory. Having already chosen Meriwether Lewis to head an expedition west, the Louisiana Purchase added an additional political element to the expedition (informing all Native American Nations that United States owned the Territory).

Lewis and Clark had many instructions for their journey, but their main objective was to follow the Missouri River west and eventually find out if they could connect this river with an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and Clark never found this all water route across the continent, but they did fulfill their other goals. One of these goals included taking notes of the landís economic potential during their expedition. In addition the explorers kept detailed diaries of their journey, which reported wildlife, abundant resources, opportunities for trade, and other information about the Louisiana Purchase.

This expedition took a total of 28 months and covered 8,000 miles, but its effect on American history and American society today will never be forgotten. In Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clarkís famous expedition, they successfully made it across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, opening the entire western region to trade. Through their amazing adventure came the first reports of the American West.

Did you Know?

2,464 miles from the mouth of the Missouri River, Lewis and Clark named a river in Jeffersonís honor. Captain Lewis writes, " we called the S.W. fork, that which we meant to ascend, Jeffersonís River in honor of that illustrious personage Thomas Jefferson (the author of our enterprize)."


From the Journals of
Lewis and Clark
Lewis & Clark 101
Lewis & Clark Biography 
Thomas Jefferson & Louisiana Purchase
Corps of Discovery
Lewis & Clark with Sacagawea
Lewis & Clark Among the Tribes
York, Clark's man-servant
Seaman, Lewis' Dog
Clark as Cartographer
Lewis as Botanist
Medical Aspects
Courts Martial
Geology on the Lewis and Clark Trail
Lewis and Clark 1804 Timeline
Lewis and Clark 1805 Timeline
Lewis and Clark 1806 Timeline
Trail Trivia

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