The Journals of Lewis and Clark

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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.


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User Review  - Kim - Goodreads

I picked this up at the Fort Clatsop Museum where Lewis and Clark wintered over Nov. 1805- Mar 1806. There's quite a nice little musuem at this site with a life-sized replica of the fort and ... Read full review


Up the Missouri
Meeting the Lakota
Winter Among the Mandan
The Great Unknown
The Thundering Falls
In Search of the Shoshone
Across the Great Divide
Down the Rapids
Winter at Fort Clatsop
The Start for Home
Lewis Shortcut
The Homestretch

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Page xxviii - Should you reach the Pacific ocean, inform yourself of the circumstances which may decide whether the furs of those parts may not be collected as advantageously at the head of the Missouri (convenient as is supposed to the waters of the Colorado and...
Page xxvii - Genevieve opposite Kaskaskia. From still further up the river the traders may furnish a conveyance for letters. Beyond that you may perhaps be able to engage Indians to bring letters for the government to Cahokia, or Kaskaskia, on promising that they shall there receive such special compensation as you shall have stipulated with them. Avail yourself of these means to communicate to us, at seasonable intervals, a copy of your journal, notes and observations of every kind.
Page xxv - And, considering the interest which every nation has in extending & strengthening the authority of reason & justice among the people around them, it will be useful...

About the author (2003)

Frank Bergon is a novelist and professor at Vassar College

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