The Journals of Lewis and Clark

Front Cover
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997 - History - 504 pages
43 Reviews
In 1803, when the United States purchased Louisiana from France, the great expanse of this new American territory was a blank -- not only on the map but in our knowledge. President Thomas Jefferson keenly understood that the course of the nation's destiny lay westward and that a national "Voyage of Discovery" must be mounted to determine the nature and accessibility of the frontier. He commissioned his young secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead an intelligence-gathering expedition from the Missouri River to the northern Pacific coast and back. From 1804 to 1806, Lewis, accompanied by co-captain William Clark, the Shoshone guide Sacajawea, and thirty-two men, made the first trek across the Louisiana Purchase, mapping the rivers as he went, tracing the principal waterways to the sea, and establishing the American claim to the territories of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. together the captains kept a journal, a richly detailed record of the flora and fauna they sighted, the Indian tribes they encountered, and the awe-inspiring landscape they traversed, from their base camp near present-day St. Louis to the mouth of the Columbia River. In keeping this record they made an incomparable contribution to the literature of exploration and the writing of natural history. The Journals of Lewis and Clark, writes Bernard DeVoto, was "the first report on the West, on the United States over the hill and beyond the sunset, on the province of the American future. There has never been another so excellent or so influential...It satisfied desire and created desire: the desire of the westering nation."

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: The Journals of Lewis and Clark

User Review  - David Boyle - Goodreads

A remarkable read for the insight it provides on what a wondrous country this must have been before the white man arrived and messed everything up. The number of deer, elk, bison, and grizzly bears ... Read full review

Review: The Journals of Lewis and Clark

User Review  - Oliver - Goodreads

A challenge to read, because it is kept in the original spelling and idiom, but well worth it. Extraordinary insights into the historical period, the virgin west, and native peoples. Changed my thinking in all three areas. Read full review

References to this book

About the author (1997)

DeVoto winner of the Pultizer Prize and the National Book Award, was a renowned scholar-historian.

Bibliographic information