Exploration has been a prominent desire of humans since humans came to be. Testing the limits, exploring beyond boundaries has been enticing for centuries. 210 years ago today two brave explorers took on the western United States to discover new land and water ways to the Pacific Ocean. The story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark is one told in history books and classrooms around the world. There is no better way to honor the 210th Anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition than to relive the excitement that was discovering America.
On this day in 1804 Lewis and Clark departed from St. Louis, Missouri, and began their journey to what is now the Pacific Northwest. The journey was requested by the President of the United States at the time, Thomas Jefferson. There were 45 men commissioned to perform this expedition, with Lewis and Clark at the lead. The journey took two-and-a-half years to complete and was full of history-making accomplishments. Along the journey the men met Native Americans and were helped by the Shoshone Indian tribe, which the famous Indian woman Sacagawea’s family belonged to.
Sacagawea is as much of a household name as those of Lewis and Clark. Sacagawea and her husband, a French-Canadian fur trader by the name of Toussaint Charbonneau, met Lewis and Clark six months into their journey. Charbonneau and Sacagawea played the roles of guide and interpreter for the remainder of the long journey; Sacagawea was the only woman in the group and was pregnant during the journey to the west. Her presence was extremely important to the group because she was knowledgeable of edible, wild plants and was a sign of peace for to strangers because she was the only woman with a group of men. The translators came in great use when Lewis and Clark encountered Sacagawea’s brother’s tribe which sold the group horses for use in difficult areas of the journey.
The purchase of the land west of the Mississippi, which celebrated its 210th anniversary last year, was termed the Louisiana Purchase. The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 and it was largely unoccupied, besides the existence of Native American tribes. Lewis, Clark and their crew risked everything for this journey through the newly purchased land to the Pacific Ocean and encountered an abundance of dangerous wildlife, disease and starvation. They utilized the mobility of often dangerous rivers and braved intense altitudes. Lewis, Clark and their crew displayed immense courage and discovered vital routes through rugged land, which have been extremely important for centuries.
The expedition ended on November 8th of 1805 at the final destination: the Pacific Ocean. Lewis, Clark, Sacagawea, Charbonneau and about 33 men of the original 45 stayed at their destination for the winter season and made their way back to St. Louis as it blossomed into spring. The discovery of the west coast led to the U.S. claim of the Oregon territory. The discovery troupe was very important for the mapping and discovery of land west of the Mississippi river and will forever be known as the group who discovered valuable information about the western part of the United States. Even though today marks the 210th anniversary, Lewis and Clark are still prominent.
By Courtney Heitter