The Lewis and Clark expedition was one of the first large-scale explorations of the Pacific Northwest in the United States of America. This expedition was led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, two former soldiers chosen by then President Thomas Jefferson. The cross-country expedition had several goals, including judging the resources acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, declaring sovereignty over the Indian tribes in the area, and discovering a direct water passage across the country for easy trade. On the way, the group met many Native Americans, hired interpreters to communicate and trade with the Indians, and documented the appearance of animals they had never seen before.
Thomas Jefferson wished to make the first claim to discovery of the Pacific Northwest, before the British or anyone else. He ordered Meriwether Lewis, the official leader of the Lewis and Clark expedition, to follow the rivers, map the course, and collect scientific data. While the expedition was the first official U.S. exploration of the northwestern coast, Europeans and Canadians had been there before, the latter who wrote a book that influenced the president to start his own expedition.
The Lewis and Clark expedition started with fewer than three dozen people at what is now known as Hartford, Illinois. It was spring of 1804 when the group set out and followed the Missouri River to reach the first settlement on the journey. The expedition nearly battled with tribes on several occasions, especially when they needed to pass through inhabited territory or when animals or weapons went missing. Without the indigenous people of America, however, the Lewis and Clark expedition would have failed due to starvation or losing their way in the Rocky Mountains. For the most part, Lewis and Clark tried to keep trade negotiations peaceful and provide demonstrations of technology and gifts of alcohol when they could.
When the Lewis and Clark expedition came to an end in 1806, the result was the very first accurate maps of the area and a better understanding of plants and animals previously unknown to the American, though not indigenous, people. More than 140 maps, 200 plants and animals, and 70 Native American tribes were created, described, and noted, respectively.
Due to the major contributions to scientific research and the impact the expedition had on increasing the United States’ lands, there are numerous buildings, structures, and animals named after Lewis and Clark. In addition, their grave sites are still maintained and occasionally a place of celebration. During these celebrations, plants the men discovered are placed on their graves.