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14th May, 1804 started the expedition of Merriweather Lewis and William Clark

Lewis and ClarkOn the 14th of May, 1804 started expedition led by Merriweather Lewis and William Clark, the goal of which was to research lands of Louisiana, which the U.S. bought from France for 15 million dollars.

If you examine a modern map of the United States, you can see that Louisiana is a small state. But in the XVII century the whole valley of the Mississippi River was part of Louisiana. For comparison, we note that in our time this territory includes 15 states of America.

Before 1803 Wild West has not been studied, mainly Indians lived here. In that time the president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. He saw great prospects for the country in connection with the purchase of Louisiana. In particular, he expected to develop the Wild West, found villages and establish trade. To achieve these plans he decided to organize an expedition led by his personal secretary Lewis. First of all, it was planned to find a river route to the Pacific coast, which would contribute to the development of trade with the East.

Throughout the winter was preparing a large-scale campaign for participation in which was selected a group of four dozen people. They collected everything they need: medicines, stocks of provisions, scientific equipment, weapons - everything that could be required in the way. Cargo weight reached six tons. Of course, with such baggage it was easier to move on the river.

On the 14th of May, 1804 expedition started from St. Louis. During the next five months it went leisurely up the Missouri. In October, the expedition reached a settlement of Mandan Indians. Here it was decided to stay for the winter. In that year the winter was long and harsh: sometimes the temperature dropped to -40 º C. Only in April they manage to continue the travel.

They were close to the most crucial and difficult step of the way. Earlier members of the expedition guided by geographical maps and plans, but now they had to move at random, since none of the civilized world has been here. They hired Indian as a conductor. Admiration deserves a 16 -year-old Indian woman Sacagawea, who went with her husband in a dangerous way and passed it with a newborn baby in her hands. Besides, it was a great interpreter.

The expedition proceeded to the Rocky Mountains. The path was not easy: food reserves were running low, and it was very cold at night. But travelers do not give up. And on 7 November 1805 they saw the spacious plains and the river, later named Columbia. The expedition went down the river and reached the Pacific Ocean. The purpose has been achieved. Began the grueling return home.

Topographic map shows the route of the expedition, which took place from the Atlantic coast up the Missouri to the Rocky Mountains, then - down the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean. Thus, members of the expedition covered the distance of 7000 km. In St. Louis, they returned in the autumn of 1806.

Lewis and Clark was able to complete the task, and gather a wealth of material: they filled diaries, made maps, described people they met along the way.

This Day in History 14-05-2014