In 1804, two men, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were sent out by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the land of the Louisiana Purchase. The two men were to determine if the new territory actually had something that could contribute to America, or if there was nothing new or of importance. They were told to study the plant life, animals, and the geography of the region, to map out the borders of the land. In addition, they were to discover if the area had any natural resources which could make the land beneficial to the economy. What they discovered in the Louisiana Purchase was massive; numerous Indian tribes, plant and animal species, and the Rocky Mountains.
Thomas Jefferson had long wanted to explore the western lands. The Lewis and Clark expedition was not the first attempt at doing so, either. In 1793, while Secretary of State under President George Washington, $128 was raised to send French botanist Andre Michaux to explore out to the Pacific Ocean (Duncan 8). Michaux never made it past the Ohio River, though, so Jefferson planned to try again. Since Jefferson hadn’t yet acquired the Louisiana Territory, he had to have the mission approved by the countries still in charge of the territories. When writing to the British, French, and Spanish, he explained that it would be a purely scientific expedition. When he secretly wrote to Congress, though, Jefferson emphasized the commercial and economic benefits of exploring the land, in hopes of having the mission approved. England and France agreed to the expedition, and even though Spain objected, Jefferson continued on planning the mission. To lead the “Corps of Discovery”, as Jefferson named it, he chose his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, saying, “ was impossible to find a character who to compleat science in botany, natural history, mineralogy and astronomy, habits adapted to the woods and a familiarity with the Indian manners and character” (Ambrose 76). At age twenty-eight, some people...
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