From 1804 to 1806, at the request of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the first American expedition across the vast interior of the North American continent. They departed from St. Louis, headed up the Missouri River, and followed an overland route to the Columbia River, which they followed to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, they encountered and negotiated with various Indian tribes, collected wildlife and soil samples, and charted the geography of the land. The Lewis and Clark expedition has taken on mythic proportions in American culture, and the explorers are often invoked to symbolize a spirit of adventure and endeavor. In the early years of the American republic, when communication and commerce were quite limited, traveling into a vast wilderness inhabited by potentially hostile Indian groups as well as traders and settlers from Spain, Britain, and France entailed great danger and cost. Think about how Thomas Jefferson justified the expense of the trip and the variety of goals Lewis and Clark hoped to accomplish. Consider the risks of disease, injury, starvation, and violence from people they met. Write an essay that explains the reasons behind Lewis and Clark’s expedition and assesses their success in fulfilling their mission.
Describe the specific needs of the United States in the early 19th century in terms of relations with other countries, commerce, relations with Indians, and the advance of science. What role did the Lewis and Clark expedition play in the growth of the young United States? How integral was Sacagawea to this expedition (Hint: I’m an American Indian woman)?