Lewis and Clark West to the Pacific by
Frank R. "Bob"
Davenport. Photo and Copyright held by:
Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc
Lewis and Clark expedition
(1804-1806) was the first United States overland expedition to the Pacific
coast and back.
Louisiana Purchase in 1803 sparked
interest in expansion to the west coast. A few weeks after the purchase,
President Thomas Jefferson, an advocate of western
expansion, had U.S. Congress appropriate $2,500 to send a small U.S. Army
unit to explore the west all the way to the Pacific Ocean. Along
their way, they were instructed to study and make detailed reports on the
tribes, geography, climate, plants and animals, as well as evaluate the
potential interference of British and French-Canadian hunters and trappers
who were already well established in the area. In addition, one of
Jefferson's main objectives was for the unit to find a waterway that would
connect the east to the west.
selected 28-year-old Army captain,
Meriwether Lewis to lead the
expedition, afterwards known as the
Discovery. Lewis, in turn, selected a former Army comrade,
32-year-old William Clark, to be co-leader of the Expedition. Due to
bureaucratic delays in the US Army, Clark officially only held the
rank of Second Lieutenant at the time, but Lewis concealed this from
the men and shared the leadership of the expedition, always referring
to Clark as "Captain."