Lewis and Clark Expedition
The Lewis and Clark expedition had started after Jefferson decided that the unknown had to be explored. The expedition started before Jefferson had officially purchased the Louisiana territory from the French. Jefferson wanted information on where the lands of the Indians were, what crops grew there, what type of animal and how many grazed there, who the natives were and who they traded with. The expedition consisted of a select group of military men led by Captain Meriwether Lewis. Captain Meriwether Lewis was a frontiersman and the personal secretary of President Jefferson. Lewis chose Second Lieutenant William Clark to lead beside him. Second Lieutenant William Clark was a draftsman and frontiersman and had once been Jefferson’s commanding officer in the army. The purpose of he expedition was both scientific and commercial.
The scientific reasons of the expedition was to create maps and document the plants and animals found and the commercial reasons were to establish trade and identify natural resources. On May 21st, 1804, the expedition had started. The expedition left Camp Dubois, near Saint Louis where they learned to trade with Native Americans. The Missouri River was the first major challenged for the team to pass. After passing the river, the team ran into the Sioux tribe. The Sioux tribe had power and was stronger than any other neighboring tribe. The Sioux were friendly with Lewis and Clark. They included them in their rituals and showed them great respect. In return, Lewis and Clark’s men would play music for them. The Sioux soon started to trade with the team. Before leaving, Sacajawea, a woman that was captured from another tribe, was hired. She was added to the expedition to help interpret and translate. She could also help get horses for the team. Most importantly, she knew about the land and how to survive. After traveling on, they met a fork in the river. It took seven days to decide which way to take. One way wouldn’t get them through the mountains before winter. After much discussion and research, they chose a path.
Their discussions and research payed off as they chose the right path to get them through the mountains. They traveled and found water falls. Instead of taking their boats over the falls, they built makeshift wagons and pulled the boats around on land. It took 12 days to get past the falls. As the expedition continued, they were looking for the Shoshone tribe to get horses from them. They saw signs of Indians, but no Indians and signs of horses, but no horses. Sacajawea soon recognized where they were and knew where they could possibly find the tribe. A few days later, Lewis encountered a band of Shoshone. It was Sacajawea’s brother, Cameahwait, that they had found. Cameahwait promised that he would help Lewis and Clark. They traveled on after being overjoyed with the help they had just received. Lewis had climbed to the top of Lemhi Pass. He looked out as far as he could to see mountain range after mountain range. There were no rivers in view, no flowing waters to aid them in their journey. They now had to make the hard climb over the steep mountains. With the 30 horses they had acquired from the Shoshone, for packing and not riding, they struggled to travel across the mountains.