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American History: The Lewis And Clark Expedition Essay

Lewis and Clark Many lives changed in the early 1800’s with the expansion of U. S. territory after the Louisiana Purchase. President Jefferson wanted this new area to be explored, so he asked Meriwether Lewis if he would be commanding officer and leader of the expedition. The Lewis and Clark Expedition meant great changes to American history by discovering new plants and animals, making friendships with the Natives, and exploring new areas. Meriwether Lewis, born in 1774 on August 18 near Ivy, Virginia. Lewis became a member of the state’s militia.

In 1794, aided in the termination of the Whiskey Rebellion, where the local armers were rebelling about the taxes. 1795, served with William Clark. A few years later, Lewis joined the Regular Army where he achieved the rank as Captain. 1801, he was asked to be Private Secretary for President Thomas Jefferson (“Meriwether Lewis Biography”). William Clark was born on August 1 of 177 in Caroline County, Virginia. His parents were John and Ann Clark. Clark was the ninth child born out of ten, and was brothers to the American Revolution military hero, George Rogers Clark.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, William Clark joined the American Indian conflict on the Ohio Frontier. In 1789, Clark joined the militia before then listing in the regular army. In 1792, he was commissioned lieutenant of infantry by President George Washington (Buckley). Clark helped build and supply forts along the Ohio River under General Anthony Wayne. In 1794, Clark participated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers by commanding the Chosen Rifle Company. He then returned home to regain health and manage his parents’ estate because they were aging.

The return home occurred after resigning commission in 1796. Seven years after returning home, he received an invitation from Lewis for the great expedition (Buckley). President Thomas Jefferson wanted to know about the land west of the Mississippi River, which was purchased with the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson wanted to find out what kind of plants and animals lived in the new region. To find out, Jefferson asked Lewis to lead an expedition, who in turn asked Clark to co-command (“Lewis and Clark”).

Other goals of the expedition were to describe the geography and resources the group found. The group was also to map the land and observe the weather and climate. If the group were to meet any Native Americans, they were to be friendly and attempt to make trade agreements (Alchin). The main goal of the expedition, though, was to find a water route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. This route, if it existed, would give market ports to the inner western lands, as well as cities along tributaries and Ohio River (Perry).

In May of 1804, the journey began. The Corps of Discovery, as the group was known as, with the leaders being Lewis and Clark, set out from St. Louis, Missouri (“Lewis and Clark”). There was thirty-five men in the group, including Lewis and Clark. The youngest man was only seventeen years old. The oldest of the group was thirty-five. The average age of the men in the group as twenty-seven. Sergeant Charles Floyd died of acute appendicitis, and was the only one to die on the journey (Alchin). Many of the men experienced Rheumatism during spells of cold weather.

Rheumatism symptoms include the stiffening of joints and muscles making work a quite difficult task to complete. A disease that caused most of the harm was Malaria. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, but was thought to be spread through the bad air in swampy areas, where the mosquitoes lived. Malaria has three stages: 1. Sudden cold and fever; 2. Extreme hotness, high fevers, sometimes reaching one hundred egrees, and severe headache; and 3. Excessive sweating for up to two hours, in turn that causes a rapid decrease in body temperature.

Symptoms of malaria can continue throughout a person’s lifetime (Huyser, Pearson). The Corps of Discovery faced many challenges other along the way. Mosquitoes, snakes, and bears were just a few of the many challenges, but were a major problem. Some of their biggest problems included mountains, river rapids, and cold weather (Alchin). Other problems experienced were illness, hunger, fatigue, and injury. Many men in the group faced these obstacles along the way (“Lewis and Clark”). Lewis and Clark, and the rest, did their best to be friendly with the Native Americans.

They traded with each other and set up diplomatic relations, as well (Perry). Many Natives actually helped them along the way by providing supplies and giving the explorers advice. The Mandan are noted for providing supplies and help during the first winter the Corps of Discovery experienced. During this first winter, two Native Americans joined the expedition group: Sacagawea and her husband, Touissant Charbonneau. Sacagawea and Charbonneau served as interpreters during the journey and were able to get horses rom other tribes to travel (“Lewis and Clark”). Sacagawea was a Shoshone Indian.

Lewis and Clark met up with the Shoshones near the foot of the Rocky Mountains, after following the Jefferson River, the western-most tributary of the Missouri River, near Three Forks, Montana. The Shoshones had mastered the art of climbing up the rocky sides of the mountains (Perry). Over the course of the long journey across the western lands, The Corps of Discovery discovered one hundred twenty-two animals and one hundred seventy-eight plants. They collected samples of the rocks, minerals, fossils, and other natural esources they discovered, and carried them to back to show everybody (Alchin).

The samples of the plants were the seeds to grow them when they returned home. The samples of the animals were mainly skins and skeletons (“Plant and Animal Discoveries”). Golden Current was one of the new plants they discovered. The Corps of Discovery found this plant near the Gates of the Mountains and it grows six to eight feet tall and produces berries. Montana’s state flower, the Bitterroot, was discovered near Missoula. A plant that gave the explorers a problem was the Prickly Pear, hence the name, was quite prickly and pokey.

Prickly Pear grows in beds and is found mainly where the buffalo over-grazed. Discovered by the men near the Great Falls of the Missouri River. Cottonwood trees did not seem that useful to Lewis and his men at first, but quickly realized that the trees could be used for more resources. At first, the men only carved canoes from the trees, later carving out tables and chairs, and burning the foot to cook their food. Even wagons for transportation were build using the wood from the Cottonwood trees (“Plant and Animal Discoveries”). Lewis and Clark found many animals along the way.

They ound small animals including the prairie dog, sharp-tailed grouse, and magpies. Clark’s Nutcracker, named after William Clark because he was the first to see this bird, is about the size of robin with a light-brown body with black wings and a white beak. Clark spotted this bird on Lemhi Pass on August 22, 1805. A month early Lewis’s Woodpecker was spotted, named after Meriwether Lewis since he spotted this bird on July 20, 1805 just past the Gates of the Mountains. This bird is about the size of a jay, greenish-black in color with a red belly and silver-gray throat (“Plant and Animal Discoveries”).

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