Essay about The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Essay about The Lewis and Clark Expedition

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition
Missing Works Cited


Exploration has always been a central theme in the development of the United States. The Louisiana Purchase, in 1803, made the government more eager to expand west. The newly acquired lands were in need of exploration. A team needed to be established to survey and document the new territory. The Lewis and Clark expedition would answer the unknown questions of the west. The expedition would not have been successful without the leadership, determination, discipline of the Corps of Discovery, and the cooperation of the Native Americans. President Jefferson wanted the leader to have the same passion and intensity toward the discovery of the west as he possessed. Jefferson hand- picked the leader of the team to be Meriwether Lewis. President Jefferson had high expectations for the mission to find an all water route to the Pacific. These expectations drove Jefferson and Lewis to coordinate a mission to assess the west.

President Jefferson had an abundant impact in Lewis’ life prior to the expedition. Lewis joined the army and by 1800, after six years, had risen to the rank of captain. He then served as paymaster until early 1801 when Jefferson appointed him to be his personal secretary. Lewis was the ideal candidate for the position of leading the expedition that the fathers of the United States had been dreaming of for more than forty years (Wilson pg.17). Lewis was of respectable lineage, strong, tall, and knowledgeable about nature and Indian culture.

From The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1803), Jefferson sent Lewis instructions for his mission west. The letter was written in June and gave Lewis many tasks to perform while on the journey with his friend and former ...


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...oubt, despair and other discomforts was essential to the mission. Hostile Native Americans tested the men’s courage, loyalty and teamwork led by Lewis and Clark, with the aid of officers like Sgt. Ordway. Friendly Native Americans like the Mandan tribe and Sacagawea were crucial to the survival and success of Lewis and Clark’s mission for President Jefferson. All these factors came together to challenge the men, and in the end, gave them all a great sense of accomplishment. The achievements of the Corps of Discovery are so impressive that people still study the journey.

The Lewis and Clark expedition would not have been as successful, if at all, had it not been for the cooperation of key Native Americans and the determination, discipline and leadership of the crew. It took all the people involved, from America’s founding fathers on, to make the dream a reality.

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