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Lewis and Clark Expedition (1803-1806)

By nhume
  • Secret Message

    Secret Message
    U.S. President Thomas Jefferson sends a secret message to Congress asking for approval and funding of an expedition to explore the Western part of the continent.
  • Period: to

    Lewis and Clark Expedition

  • Training

    Lewis, now picked as commander, is sent to Philadelphia for instruction in botany, zoology, celestial navigation, medicine from nation’s leading scientists. Also begins buying supplies to outfit the expedition. Lewis writes to former army comrade, William Clark, inviting him to share command of expedition. Clark writes to accept.
  • Announcement of Louisiana Purchase

    Announcement of Louisiana Purchase
    News of Louisiana Purchase announced. For $15 million, Jefferson more than doubles the size of United States: 820,000 square miles for 3 cents an acre.
  • St. Louis Ceremonies

    St. Louis Ceremonies
    Lewis and Clark attend ceremonies in St. Louis formally transferring Louisiana Territory from France to United States.
  • Expedition Begins

    Expedition Begins
    Corps of Discovery sets off from Camp Dubois “under a jentle brease,” Clark writes. They traveled in big keelboat and two smaller boats called pirogues. Traveling up the Missouri River involves sailing, rowing, using setting poles, and sometimes wading along the bank to pull the boats with ropes. Fourteen miles is a good day’s progress.
  • First Casualty

    First Casualty
    Sergeant Charles Floyd dies of natural causes near present-day Sioux City, Iowa. He was the only fatality among the Corps of Discovery during the expedition. The captains name the hilltop where he is buried Floyd’s Bluff and the nearby stream Floyd’s River.
  • New Animals

    New Animals
    Moving into the Great Plains, the expedition begins seeing animals unknown in the East: coyotes, antelope, mule deer, and others. On this particular day, all of the men attempt to drown a never-before-seen prarie dog out of its hole for shipment back to Jefferson. In all, the captains would describe in their journals 178 plants and 122 animals that previously had not been recorded for science.
  • Acquiring Interpreters

    Acquiring Interpreters
    Lewis and Clark hire French-Canadian fur-trader Toussaint Charbonneau and his Shoshone wife, Sacagawea, to act as interpreters on the journey ahead.
  • Little Pomp is Born

    Little Pomp is Born
    Sacagawea gives birth to baby boy, Jean Baptiste.
  • Sending Word

    Sending Word
    Lewis and Clark dispatch the big keelboat and roughly a dozen men back downriver, along with maps, reports, Indian artifacts, and boxes of scientific specimens for Jefferson (Indian corn, animal skins and skeletons, mineral samples, and five live animals including the prairie dog).
  • Grizzly Encounter

    Grizzly Encounter
    Lewis and another hunter kill a large grizzly bear, which had never before been described for science.
  • Expedition Gets Wet

    Expedition Gets Wet
    One of their boats nearly overturns and Lewis credits Sacagawea with saving their most important possessions.
  • Fork in the River

    Fork in the River
    The expedition comes to a fork in the river. Lewis and Clark believe the south fork is the Missouri, while all of the other men believe it is the north fork. The expedition chose to follow their leaders.
  • Falls of the Missouri

    Falls of the Missouri
    Lewis reaches the Great Falls of the Missouri—five massive cascades around which the men must carry all of their gear, including the canoes. This portion of the journey was eighteen miles long and took the corps nearly a month to pass.
  • No Northwest Passage

    No Northwest Passage
    Lewis finds the headwaters of the Missouri River and discovers that there is no Northwest Passage.
  • Camp Fortunate

    Camp Fortunate
    Lewis discovers a village of Shoshones and tries to negotiate for horses. Clark and the rest of the expedition arrives as well, and it is discovered that the Shoshone chief Cameahwait is Sacagawea's brother.
  • Bitterroot

    With 29 horses, one mule, and a Shoshone guide called Old Toby, the expedition sets off. They head north, over a mountain pass and into the valley of a beautiful river, now called the Bitterroot.
  • Emerging from the Mountains

    Emerging from the Mountains
    After nearly starving in the mountains the expedition emerges near present-day Weippe, Idaho.
  • Pacific Ocean

    Pacific Ocean
    The corp reaches the Pacific Ocean just in time for winter. The entire expedition take a vote on where to build their winter quarters. They choose Fort Clatsop.
  • Journey Home Begins

    Journey Home Begins
    ort Clatsop is presented to the Clatsop Indians, and the expedition sets off for home.
  • Blackfeet Encounter

    Blackfeet Encounter
    While making their way back to the Missouri, Lewis' party encountered eight Blackfeet warriors. They camp together, but the morning of the 27th the party catches the blackfeet attempting to steal their horses and guns. During a fight two of the Blackfeet were killed.
  • Return to St. Louis

    Return to St. Louis
    Having found an easier route across the country, the men reach St. Louis nearly two and a half years after their journey began and are acclaimed as national heroes.