The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: August 30, 1803-August 24, 1804

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University of Nebraska Press, 1986 - History - 612 pages
2 Reviews

"The journey of the Corps of Discovery, under the command of Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, across the American West to the Pacific Ocean and back in the years 1804-1806 seems to me to have been our first really American adventure, one that also produced our only really American epic, The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, now at last available in a superbly edited, easily read edition in twelve volumes (of an eventual thirteen), almost two centuries after the Corps of Discovery set out. . . . This important text has not been fully appreciated for what it is because of two centuries of incomplete and inadequate editing. All three editions previous to this excellent one from the University of Nebraska . . . were flawed by significant omission. . . . Thus my gratitude to the present editor, Gary Moulton, and his assistant editor, Thomas Dunlay, for bringing what I believe to be a national epic into plain view at last. . . . For almost two hundred years their [Lewis' and Clark's] strong words waited, there but not there, printed but not read: our silent epic. But words can wait: now the captains' writings have at last spilled out, and fully, in this regal edition.

When the Atlas of the Lewis and Clark Expedition appeared in 1983, critics hailed it as a publishing landmark. This eagerly awaited second volume of the new Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition begins the actual journals of those explorers whose epic expedition still enthralls Americans.

Instructed by President Jefferson to keep meticulous records bearing on the geography, ethnology, and natural history of the trans-Mississippi West, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and four of their men filled hundreds of notebook pages with observations during their expedition of 1804?6. The result was in is a national treasure: a complete look at the Great Plains, the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest, reported by men who were intelligent and well-prepared, at a time when almost nothing was known about those regions so newly acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.

Volume 2 includes Lewis?s and Clark?s journals for the period from August 1803, when Lewis left Pittsburgh to join Clark farther down the Ohio River, to August 1804, when the Corps of Discovery camped near the Vermillion River in present South Dakota. The general introduction by Gary E. Moulton discusses the history of the expedition, the journal-keeping methods of Lewis and Clark, and the editing and publishing history of the journals from the time of Lewis and Clark?s return. Superseding the last edition published early in this century, the current edition brings together new materials discovered since then. It greatly expands and updates the annotation to take account of the most recent scholarship on the many subjects touched on by the journals.

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The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Although it is not the first volume in the set (the atlas was published in 1983), this is the first volume of actual journals in a new edition whose aim is "to present users with a reliable ... Read full review

Review: The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Volume 2: August 30, 1803-August 24, 1804

User Review  - Don Heiman - Goodreads

This is an amazing book. It is exceptionally well written and is one of the top ten books I ever read about the "American Experience." I would like to take this journey and experience the sites Lewis ... Read full review

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About the author (1986)

The Lewis and Clark expedition was one of the earliest crossings of the United States. Eager to expand the country, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis, formerly his private secretary, to seek a Northwest passage to the Orient. Lewis and his partner, William Clark, were both seasoned soldiers, expert woodsmen, and boatmen. They both kept journals and so did 4 sergeants and 1 private in the party of 43 men. They started from St. Louis in 1804, heading up to the Missouri River, across the Rockies, and down to the Pacific coast at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Indian woman Sacajawea ("Bird Woman") gave them valuable help on the hazardous journey, which lasted 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days, and cost the U.S. government a total of $38,722.25. Lewis was the better educated of the two captains, and his account has more force, but Clark was a superb observer who wrote in an ingenious phonetic spelling of his own invention. The official edition of the Journals did not appear until 1814, when they were edited in two volumes by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen. This text, a paraphrase of the journals, was used in various editions until 1904, when Reuben G. Thwaites edited an eight-volume edition, published in 1904--05. Many recent editions have followed the original text, making the journals available in all of their original freshness. Early in 1960 it was announced in the New York Times that 67 notes written by Clark had been given by Frederick W. Beinecke of New York to the Yale University Library. "The documents, finger-smudged, blotted and blurred with cross-outs, list personal observations previously unknown to historians. . . . The documents, consisting of old letters, envelopes and scraps of paper, were the subject of an unusual legal fight. After the Clark notes were found in an attic in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1952, the United States moved to obtain them. The Government contended the documents were part of the official records of Clark while he served the United States. The Federal Court of Appeals in St. Louis dismissed the suit on Jan. 23, 1958. The court test was closely watched by libraries, museums and the American Philosophical Society. Had the Government been upheld, the custody of similar historical documents would have been jeopardized. . . ." Shortly after the end of the expedition, Lewis was appointed governor of the Territory of Upper Louisiana. When he at last took up his post, he was mysteriously killed---or took his own life---in the lonely wilderness.

Eager to expand the country in the early 1800s, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis, formerly his private secretary, to seek a Northwest passage to the Orient. Lewis and his partner, William Clark, were seasoned soldiers, expert woodsmen, and boatmen. They both kept journals and so did four sergeants and a private in the party of 43 men. They started from St. Louis, Missouri, in 1804, heading up to the Missouri River, across the Rockies, and down to the Pacific coast at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Indian woman Sacajawea (Bird Woman) gave them valuable help on the hazardous journey, which lasted 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days, and cost the U.S. government a total of $38,722.25. Lewis was the better educated of the two captains, and his account of the expedition has more force, but Clark was a superb observer who wrote in an ingenious phonetic spelling of his own invention. The official edition of the Journals did not appear until 1814, after they had been edited in two volumes by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen. This text, a paraphrase of the journals, was used in various editions until 1904, when Reuben G. Thwaites edited an eight-volume edition, published in 1904-1905. Many recent editions have followed the original text, making the journals available in all of their original freshness. Early in 1960 the New York Times announced that Frederick W. Beinecke of New York had given 67 notes written by Clark to the Yale University Library. The finger-smudged documents blotted and blurred with cross-outs consisted of personal observations previously unknown to historians. The documents became the subject of an unusual legal fight. After the Clark notes were found in an attic in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1952, the United States moved to obtain them. The government stated that the documents were part of the official records of Clark while he served the United States. On January 23, 1958, the Federal Court of Appeals in St. Louis dismissed the suit. Libraries, museums and the American Philosophical Society had closely watched the court test. Had the U.S. government been upheld, the custody of similar historical documents would have been jeopardized. Shortly after the end of the expedition, Lewis was appointed governor of the Territory of Upper Louisiana. When he at last took up his post, he was mysteriously killed or took his own life in the lonely wilderness.

Gary E. Moulton, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is the author or editor of numerous articles and books, including "John Ross, Cherokee Chief".

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