“On the acquisition of Louisiana, in the year 1803, the attention of the government of the United States, was early directed towards exploring and improving the new territory.”
The Lewis and Clark expedition came at a very pivotal point in American history. We were still in the beginning times of our country and we were trying to make ourselves viewed in the world as a real country. We had just made our first big purchase of land under Thomas Jefferson in April 30, 1803. This was the Louisiana purchase.
We bought it from France for eleven million dollars. Which now does not seem like a lot of money, but back then it was a lot. This purchase gave us last from the Mississippi river all the way up to Oregon. This helped us shape the future for the United States and gave us enough land to expand west and become bigger.
There was one problem with this purchase though. No one knew what the new land had in store for the people. No one had ever explored that far West. This is where Lewis and Clark come into play. We needed someone to go explore to make sure it was safe for us to move there.
Lewis’s Early Years
In Lewis’s early years as an adult he was in the Army. He was not the best of people and he had some trouble there. He almost got court martialed in the Army. The reason he was almost court martialed was because he tried to get into a duel with a court marshall. Instead of being court martialed he got transferred to a different company. This ended up being a very good break for him as he met his soon to be partner Clark who was serving as captain at the company.
Even though there were the bad points of Lewis making a few mistakes. There were still very many good things about Lewis. He was a very hard working individual, who when not intoxicated could get a lot of progress made in a short span. That is what caught the eye of Jefferson to send him on the trip not the bad parts of him. In this book Ambrose, does a very good job of showing both of these parts of Lewis not just one or the other.
Not your normal history novel
When reading through this book you could tell Ambrose did not want you to feel like you were just reading facts out of a book. I think she wanted you to feel as if you were in the book. Almost like a novel, but you are still getting the necessary knowledge of a nonfiction book. I really liked this style she chose to write in it made the book a lot more interesting, where as in other books like this you seem to get bored halfway through the book you did not have that feeling in this book. Which made it a lot more appealing to me as a reader.
In the early 1800’s the indians had fairly gone undiscovered. They grew without any influence from the outside world, and had very little to no communication even with other indians. This made their culture very unique to any other tribe in the world. Once the colonists started to come into the country there culture started to change into more of the “normal” culture. The colonists had changed the indians way of life. They brought alcohol into the colony.
When you think about Indians what do you think? Some people might think of gambling and alcohol. They were not always like they are perceived like they are in the world today. Back before the colonists, came into the new world the indians did not know what alcohol and gambling to the extent the colonists brought to the indians. When the colonists met the indians they had brought alcohol and the gambling games with them. They exposed the Indians to these addictive things. The Indians did not know what these terribly addictive activities could do to a person. They had no background of these things, so they did not know when to stop. This whirlwind into what we have today. It got worse and worse throughout the years in the new world and now we perceive the Indians as the bad alcoholics. Really though, when you think research the incidents happening it was really the colonists fault that they have the problems they have today.
The wonders of the story
If you had read this book not knowing anything about the actual journey you would have thought this is a fiction book not a nonfiction one. This adventure is just crazy to think about. Imagine being Lewis and Clark having to explore the unknown. It is the equivalent of a person today traveling to another galaxy. I know that sounds far out, but think about it fo a second. You both would have been going into an unknown place no person had ever explored before. For a normal person to be able to go on this amazing adventure is a feat in itself.
The more I learn about Lewis and Clark’s adventure the more amazed I become. Between, the treacherous weather, and the terrain never seen in their lives it is unbelievable they made it through. The idea of not knowing anything about the land or weather just going to explore is crazy. They did not even know they were about to go up versus a lot of indian tribes in the new purchase. Luckily, they were lucky with some Indian tribes helping them out on their journey, but it could have went the complete opposite way. They could have had no help with the journey and become lost in the new purchase and never had come back. This could have spiraled into no one would have wanted to move into the new world. Then, our world could have been shaped very different now. This would make our world very different to this day.
The Lewis and Clark adventure was very important to the America of today’s. They had no clue what they were doing for our country at the time. This book did a very good job portraying the scenes no one thinks about. You never hear the parts of Lewis’s struggles before the adventure. This book went into a lot of depth about this experience, which is very seldom talked about. The Lewis and Clark expedition was a miraculous expedition in itself. Something that will never be able to be recreated on this world.
- Stephen E. Ambrose, Undaunted Courage (New York, NY: Simon and Shuster, 1996)
- “Meriwether Lewis quotes” https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/meriwether_lewis