8C- Explorers

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition

The American land west of the Mississippi River had been largely unexplored until Lewis and Clark came along in 1804. President Thomas Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis for the exploration and Lewis chose his friend William Clark to help him. When the trip began, the two leaders had 14 soldiers with them, along with nine frontiersmen, Clark's servant, York, and a couple of boatmen. This group became known as "The Corps of Discovery." Together they faced the landscapes, prairies, mountains, and rivers of the American West.

The plan was to start the expedition at the Missouri River, and so they did on May 14, 1804. A couple of months later, they met some Indians in what is now Council Bluffs, Iowa. After meeting the Mandan Indians, Lewis and Clark's team built Fort Mandan close to present-day Stanton, North Dakota. It was here that they met Sacagawea, a Shoshone. Her husband, Charbonneau, was hired as an interpreter, so she went along with the expedition team, even though she had just given birth to a baby boy. Sacagawea became invaluable to the expedition because she was their main Indian interpreter, and advised them which of the tribes to avoid.

Lewis and Clark's team needed to build canoes to get across the many rivers they would need to navigate. They must have felt the danger as they sailed in these boats. On July 25, 1805, they reached a fork where three rivers joined at the Missouri. They named the rivers the Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson. They followed the fork they had named the Jefferson. They could clearly see the Rocky Mountains, but they knew that it would not be easy to cross. They knew the crossing may even be .