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Exploring North America: Little known facts about Lewis & Clark Expedition

lewis and clark expedition
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Lewis and Clark Expedition was a United States military expedition led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark to start exploring the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest. The excursion was a pivotal event in American exploration history. This post gives you an overview of the little-known facts about the Lewis and Clark Expedition which is considered a remarkable journey. 

Lewis and Clark are significant today because they serve as a standard against which we can change and continuity in everything from the environment to human relations.

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Little known facts about Lewis and Clark Expedition

1. Purchase of Louisiana

The Politics of the Louisiana Purchase - JSTOR Daily

The United States bought 828,000 square miles of territory from France in April 1803, under the leadership of President Thomas Jefferson. The Louisiana Purchase is the name given to this land purchase. 

The Louisiana Purchase comprised regions west of the Mississippi River, but they were mainly undeveloped and hence unknown to both the United States and France at that time. As a result, immediately after the land was purchased, President Jefferson requested that Congress finance $2,500 for a westward exploration mission.

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2. Because of Thomas Jefferson, the Lewis and Clark expedition took place

Thomas Jefferson role in Lewis and Clark Expedition

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased a huge tract of land in the United States from France. The Louisiana Purchase was the name given to this purchase. Because Jefferson had no notion of what the area had to offer, he tasked two men, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, with leading an expedition to learn everything they could about it. 

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3. The Best Friend of Man

Seaman and Sacagawea statues

Seaman, Lewis’ beloved Newfoundland, accompanied them on their $2,500 cruise, which he paid for with $20 of his own money. Seaman was kidnapped by a bunch of Native American teens at one time.  When his dog was not returned, Lewis tracked down the kidnappers and threatened to burn down their village. He even named a brook (Seaman’s Creek) after the adoring canine.

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4. Expedition Duration

Lewis and Clark Expedition duration

On two consecutive visits to North Dakota, the group spent 214 days. In October of 1804, the company set up a winter camp near Washburn after a 146-day outbound journey. On its way back from the Pacific, the ship paid a second visit. The voyage came to a halt in August of 1806 when Sakakawea was returned to her native land. The expedition spent a fourth of its time in what is today known as North Dakota.

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5. The Pillar of Pompey

Pompey's Pillar

Little Jean-Baptiste was given the moniker “Pompey” by Lewis and Clark, after the Roman general. Pompey’s Pillar, a large granite feature in Montana named for Jean-Baptiste, still has William Clark’s engraved signature.

6. The Reunion

On the way back, the Corps separated into two groups, one led by Clark and the other by Lewis, to further explore some of the Marias River’s tributaries. When one of Clark’s soldiers mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him in the leg, they were reunited more than a month later, near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. 

7. Spies from Spain

The Spanish Army began hunting the Corps of Discovery without their knowledge. The Spanish went out to seize the entire Corps of Discovery, fearful that Lewis and Clark might obtain access to the Pacific, interrupting Spanish trade and settlement. They’d been informed of the mission by US Army General James Wilkinson, who was a former Spanish spy.

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Few Interesting facts about Lewis and Clark Expedition
  1. Historians also refer to the Lewis and Clark Expedition as the Corps of Discovery. 
  2. They took a barge and a couple of pirogues up the Missouri River (small boats). 
  3. Lewis and Clark dealt with Native American tribes along the way, who assisted them by telling them which plants were safe to consume.
  4. The trip was stalled when they arrived at the Great Falls in Montana. The boats had to be carried around the falls, for a month before they could continue on their journey.
  5. Lewis was appointed governor of the Louisiana Territory following the expedition’s success, while Clark was appointed governor of the Missouri Territory.  
The End Words

We hope that this post has given you some insight into some of the little-known facts about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

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