The Lewis and Clark Expedition, a force of a little more than thirty men sponsored by President Thomas Jefferson, began the exciting mission of exploration of American history in May 14th, 1804. They had been ordered to travel through the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, the completely unknown Oregon country and finally reach the Pacific Ocean, drawing maps and journaling their experiences for those in the future.
Jefferson chose his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, an intelligent and literate man who also possessed skills as a frontiersman. Lewis in turn solicited the help of his personal best friend, William Clark, whose abilities as draftsman and frontiersman were even stronger. Lewis so respected Clark that he made him a co-commanding captain of the Expedition, even though Clark was never recognized as such by the government. Together they collected a diverse military Corps of Discovery that would be able to undertake a two-year journey to the great ocean. The Lewis and Clark Expedition paddled its way down the Ohio as it prepared the Expedition to be launched officially from Camp Wood, just outside St. Louis, in the summer of 1804. That summer and fall the company of explorers paddled and pulled themselves upstream, northwest on the Missouri River to Fort Mandan, a trading post, where Corps of Discovery set up camp, wintered, and prepared for the journey to the Pacific. When the spring of 1805 brought high water and favorable weather, the Lewis and Clark Expedition set out on the next leg of its journey. They traveled up the Missouri to present-day Three Forks, Montana, wisely choosing to follow the western-most tributary, the Jefferson River. This route delivered the explorers to the doorstep of the Shoshone Indians, who were skilled at traversing the great rock mountains with horses. Once over the Bitterroot Mountains, the Corps of Discovery shaped canoe-like boats that transported them downriver to the mouth of the Columbia where they...
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