Lewis Treks Through the Mountains
Lewis and Clark Begin Exploring Seperately
Meriwether Lewis, Clark's 'Better Half'
As a child, Meriwether Lewis liked to go outside in the middle of the night and hunt with his dogs. This experience must have helped when he was chosen for one of the most important expeditions in American history.
When Lewis was young he learned lots about plants and animals. His mother taught him how to cure illnesses and injuries with plants from the wild. While spending seven years as a soldier he learned to take control of others and debate with Indians.
Thomas Jefferson, a good friend of Meriwether, had wanted to expand west into the unknown land of America for a while and when he became president, with Lewis as his secretary, he finally had the chance. Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson read maps and explorers journals about the west. Jefferson chose Meriwether to lead the expedition. Together they decided the job was too big four one man so Lewis contacted his old friend from the army, William Clark, and asked him to help lead the expedition. William agreed and they chose their expedition group’s name to be the Corps of Discovery. To prepare, Lewis studied plants, animals and mapmaking. He was taught to travel by boat and navigate by using the stars.
Finally, it was time to begin the expedition. Lewis, Clark and about 30 other men left from St. Louis on May 14, 1804 to begin their journey. They were trying to find a mostly water route to the Pacific Ocean. Along the way the Corps of Discovery encountered many obstacles such as broken boats, steep cliffs, river rapids and many Indians. Some Indians fought with the men, others traded and a couple helped. Sacagawea, an Indian the Corps of Discovery met during the trip, was very helpful when Lewis and Clark got into fights with other Indians. She helped solve conflicts and make peace. Also when Lewis met the Shoshone Indians, the tribe Sacagawea was born into but kidnapped from as a girl, she recognized her long-lost brother. He helped Lewis and Clark travel safely across the Rocky Mountains.
For the return route, Lewis and Clark decided to split the group up. Lewis would lead his group on a different new path through the mountains, while Clark would go down Yellowstone River with his group. This plan worked out well and the men got to explore lots of new areas. They met back up along the Missouri River and continued the journey home.
When they returned Lewis and Clark showed Thomas Jefferson the notebooks they kept track of their trip in. The men had also preserved many plant species and drew pictures or animals they’d seen along the way. Those journals were very helpful to experts and other explorers that journeyed into the west. Lewis was rewarded with the governorship of the Louisiana Territory.
Meriwether Lewis made it possible for cities and villages of people to expand west.