United States History
Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery
Before becoming president, Thomas Jefferson had envisioned of American settlers exploring the lands west of the Mississippi River, especially after the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the countries size after the French had sold it to the Americans. Once in office, Thomas Jefferson had now been curious of the geography of the western part of the newly purchased real-estate that was only known to French fur traders, Spanish Missionaries, and British explorers. Jefferson was also interested in maintaining peace with the Indian tribes and indigenous nations and fascinated with wanting to know more about the regions west of the Mississippi river. Therefore, he dispatched the army to explore this region on te fall of 1806, officially known as the “Corps of Volunteers for Northwest Discovery”. The 52-month expedition took off on May 14th, 1804, that involved William Clarke as the chief cartographer and record keeper Meriwether Lewis as well as 30 other people including a Native women Sacagawea and a slave named “York”. Upon leaving for their continental venture, their mission besides maintaining diplomatic relations with the native Americans and explore the unexplored part of the Louisiana Purchase, with Jefferson stating, “Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take observations of latitude and longitude at all remarkable points on the river, & especially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, at islands & other places & objects distinguished by such natural marks & characters of a durable kind, as that they may with certainty be recognized hereafter….The variations of the compass too, in different places should be noticed.”
Considering the Native Americans)
“…You will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted, as far as diligent pursuit of your journey shall admit with the names of the nations & their numbers, the extent & limits of their possessions; their relations with other tribes or nations; their language, traditions, monuments, their ordinary occupations in agriculture, fishing, hunting, war, arts & the implements for these, their food, clothing, & domestic accommodations, the diseases prevalent among them, & the remedies they use, moral and physical circumstance which distinguish them from the tribes they know, particularities in their laws, customs & dispositions, and articles of commerce they may need or furnish & to what extent.
(This was about the resources and geography)
“Other objects worthy of notice will be the soil & face of the country, it’s growth ; vegetable productions, especially those not of the US; the animals of the country generally ; especially those not known in the US; the remains ; accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct; the mineral productions of every kind, but more particularly metals, limestone, pit coal ; saltpeter, salines ; mineral waters, noting the temperature of the last ; such circumstances as may indicate their character; volcanic appearances; climate as characterized by the thermometer, by the proportion of rainy, cloudy ; clear days, by lightening, hail, snow, ice, by the access ; recess of frost, by the winds, prevailing at different seasons ; the dates at which particular plants put forth or lose their flower or leaf, times of appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects.”
The Expedition lasted from May 14, 1804 to September 23, 1806. One moment in the trip is when the expedition was being chased by the Spanish during their trip in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but they were unsuccessful in capturing them.