Lewis and Clark’s fascinating adventure presented Western America as viable land, as there was little to no information of Western America at that time. Lewis and Clark’s crew went through many distinct places, and took them many long years. However, they still ended up making it to the Pacific Ocean, and returned three years later. Most of Western America had not been explored, and their journey shed light into the west; they took very detailed notes along their journey. Lewis and Clark’s journey was one of the most significant of the 1800s because it put westward expansion into gear (“Expedition Chart”).
Meriwether Lewis’ life was full of combat, as he learned to hunt at a young age; this would prove useful for the journey ahead. Lewis grew up on a plantation, and “Much of his time was spent in the open, and he became an expert hunter” (“Meriwether Lewis”). This allowed Lewis to become handy with arms, later proving useful on his journey. Hunting animals would be a main food source for the crew, so the fact that Lewis was good at hunting was beneficial. Since he was handy with arms, he decided to join the militia: “Lewis was twenty when the president called for troops to suppress the Whisky Rebellion; as a member of the local militia he went into camp first at Winchester, then across the mountains near Pittsburgh” (“Meriwether Lewis”). This allowed Lewis to be ready for his adventure that he would partake on (“Meriwether Lewis”).
William Clark was very adventurous and like learning about the outdoors, especially Native Americans, and that would help him in his adventure. He would even learn about Native Americans, satisfying his thirst for knowledge, for they lived in the area he was hired to explore. Clark’s family was also a military family, as many of his brothers were in the military, and like many of his brothers, he also joined the military. The military trained Clark in the outdoors and was preparing him for the long journey ahead. After the military training, and with the enthusiasm of the outdoors, William Clark would be ready for his adventure with Lewis (Scheessele).
The next step was to prepare for the journey ahead, as the Louisiana territory was virtually unexplored. Lewis had studied things such as medicine and zoology to prepare for this journey. What was interesting though is that Clark, “was once Lewis’ superior” (“Lewis and Clark.” [History.com]) Then they needed supplies; they visited Harper’s Ferry. They collected a lot of essentials such as surveying instruments, clothing, and maps. They even collected things to present to the Indians as gifts along their journey. Some gifts include tobacco, ribbons, and mirrors. (“Lewis and Clark.” [History.com])
Lewis and Clark’s crew was noted as the Corps of Discovery, and they visited many distinct locations. They also had a crew to go along with them on their journey. The crew consisted of fifty crew members. The Corps of Discovery was meant to allow Lewis and Clark to find the Northwest Passage, a waterway that was to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. At first, Clark and a few men, not including Lewis, started the journey from St. Louis on May 14, 1804. (Scheessele). This would mark the start of westward expansion for America. The crew would travel at a rate of fifteen miles per day. If anyone complained, or got out of line, Lewis and Clark had line out harsh punishments. The places that the crew went through include Shoshone Country (they rested in the winter of 1804), North Dakota (in April of 1805, the crew would resume the journey), Montana (Lewis found five waterfalls in Montana), the Continental Divide (the crew reached Three Forks on July 25th and realized that they were most likely going to need horses to cross), Clearwater and Snake Rivers (the crew received horses from the Shoshone people), and the Columbia River (the crew reached the Columbia River on November 16th). North Dakota was a very important place for the travelers, and they spent five months there. The Mandan Villages were very important for the crew. The villages were trading posts for the crew, and they were extremely important. The Mandan villages are also were the crew rested in the winter of 1804. Here, the crew met one very important Shoshone named Sacajawea. Sacajawea played a key role in the journey, and she provided insight on the journey ahead. This would be a key point in the journey, and also made the journey successful (“Exploration: Lewis and Clark.”). They also spent time “hunting, forging and making canoes, ropes, leather clothing and moccasins” (“Lewis and Clark.” [History.com]). Clark also prepared a bunch of new maps. Finally, on November 18, 1805, they reached the Pacific Ocean; their journey was complete. And after a long journey, they would rest and wait out winter (four months and five days to be exact). Finally, on March 23, 1806, they would start the journey home. On the way home, they split up their group. Lewis wanted to explore the Great Falls, while Clark explored the Yellowstone River. They would reunite on August 12. They were lucky because the current would help them back to Saint Louis, and they would end up traveling eighty miles a day. The group returned to Saint Louis on September 23, 1806 (Scheessele).
Throughout their journey, the crew was involved with Indians. Sometimes, along their journey, they often asked for advice, “On inquiring of the Indians from what plant these roots were procured, they informed us that none of them grew near this place” (Lewis, Meriwether, and William Clark). This would help the crew to get along on their journey. Another time along their journey, the crew stopped for a while, “we then sunk our canoes by means of stones to the bottom of the river, a situation which is better than any other secured them against the effects of the high waters, and the frequent fires of the plains; the Indians having promised not to disturb them during our absence, a promise we believe” (Lewis, Meriwether, and William Clark). Here, the crew is putting their trust in the Indians, a rather unique quality among the white people. Lewi and Clark’s crew is a minority compared to those of other white people.
Another interesting thing about Lewis and Clark’s adventure is the story of Seaman. A dog that Lewis purchased for $20 of the “newfoundland” breed. Seaman was not noted very frequently throughout Lewis’ journals in the earlier parts of the journey. However, the dog would later become an important part of the journey, “he was performing guard duty” (“Lewis and Clark . Inside the Corps . The Corps . Seaman.”). Here, the dog shows important to the crew, as it served as a guard. The dog alarmed the crew of a buffalo. Unfortunately, the last words of Seaman would be heard on July 15th, “[T]he musquetoes continue to infest us in such manner that we can scarcely exist; for my own part I am confined by them to my bier at least 3/4 th of the time. my dog even howls with the torture he experiences from them” (“Lewis and Clark . Inside the Corps . The Corps . Seaman.”). The dog was very important to the crew. The dog was also a great companion for those of the crew.
The journey that Lewis and Clark partook in was very significant to themselves and America. After the journey, “Lewis was made Governor of the Louisiana Territory as a reward for his services to the nation by Jefferson in 1807” (“Expedition Chart”). This shows how significant this was to America, due to the fact Meriwether was made governor of the new territory that they discovered. William Clark “was appointed a Superintendent of Indian Affairs by the federal government” (“Expedition Chart”). This also shows how important this was to America, and that is further shown, as Clark was appointed to Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Their journals also “were published in 1814, a lucid and detailed account of the geography, vegetation, animal life and the human inhabitants of the then virtually unknown and unexplored West” (“Expedition Chart”). This was very important to the westward expansion of America, as it provided vast amounts of information about Western America. Unfortunately, Meriwether Lewis died in 1809, and William Clark died in 1838 (“Expedition Chart”).
Lewis and Clark’s adventure was very significant to America, as it was a highlight of western expansion of America. Western expansion of America was very important, and Lewis and Clark made it a whole lot easier. It was also beneficial because most of the west had been unexplored and there was little to no information on Western America. Lewis and Clark’s adventure gave light into that are by providing vast amounts of information about Western America. While that might seem good, many other problems arise due to this. Some other problems that arise include what to do with the Indians living in the area. For example, America would set up Fort Clark in the Mandan villages, where the crew met Sacajawea. (“Exploration: Lewis and Clark.”). This just shows that Americans do not appreciate the indians and their help with the crew. The solution would come not too far later and included many laws that eventually forced the Indians into reservations. Though for the Americas, this would be a win, and would shine light into westward expansion.
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“Exploration: Lewis and Clark.” Ushistory.org, Independence Hall Association, 2008, www.ushistory.org/us/21b.asp.
“Lewis and Clark.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/lewis-and-clark.
“Lewis and Clark . Inside the Corps . The Corps . Seaman.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/lewisandclark/inside/seaman.html.
Lewis, Meriwether, and William Clark. “Excerpt from The Journals of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark.” Westward Expansion, Primary Source Media, 1999. American Journey. Gale In Context: U.S. History, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/EJ2160000031/UHIC?u=mtlib_2_1167&sid=UHIC&xid=39687423. Accessed 16 Nov. 2020.
“Meriwether Lewis.” Dictionary of American Biography, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1936. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/BT2310009045/BIC?u=mtlib_2_1167&sid=BIC&xid=e097f0b9. Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.
Scheessele, Marie. “Lewis, Meriwether and William Clark.” Water: Science and Issues, edited by E. Julius Dasch, Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. Gale In Context: Biography, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/K3409400200/BIC?u=mtlib_2_1167&sid=BIC&xid=4ba0446b. Accessed 18 Nov. 2020.