On this day in history – Lewis and Clark set out to explore the Northwest

May 14, 1804: A year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis, Missouri, on a mission to explore northwest from the Mississippi River to the ocean Peaceful.

Even before the U.S. government had concluded purchase negotiations with France, President Thomas Jefferson assigned his private secretary Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, an army captain, to lead an expedition into what is now the Northwestern United States today. On May 14, the “Corps of Discovery” – consisting of about 45 men (although only about 33 men would make the full trip) – departed St. Louis for the American interior.

The expedition sailed up the Missouri River in a 55-foot-long keelboat and two smaller boats. In November, Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader accompanied by his young Amerindian wife Sacagawea, joined the expedition as an interpreter. The party wintered in present-day North Dakota before crossing into present-day Montana, where they first saw the Rocky Mountains. Across the Continental Divide, they were met by the Sacagawea tribe, the Shoshone Indians, who sold them horses for their journey through the Bitterroot Mountains. After crossing the dangerous rapids of the Clearwater and Snake rivers by canoe, the explorers reached the calm of the Columbia River, which led them to the sea. On November 8, 1805, the expedition arrived in the Pacific Ocean. After stopping there for the winter, the explorers began their long journey back to St. Louis. On September 23, 1806, after nearly two and a half years, the expedition returned to the city, bringing back a wealth of information about the area (much of which was already inhabited by Native Americans), as well as valuable American claims to the Oregon Territory. .

Information sourced from: https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/lewis-and-clark-depart

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