lewis & clark

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lewis and Clark 1804 by L. Edward Fisher

In 1802 Jefferson had sent ministers to France, offering to buy New Orleans, the vital port at the mouth of the Mississippi River. But instead, Napoleon Bonaparte, preparing for another war with England, had made a counteroffer: he would sell the entire Louisiana Territory, all 820,000 square miles, to the United States for $15 million. It was a sum nearly twice the federal budget, and although he questioned his own constitutional authority in doing so, Jefferson readily agreed. For just three cents and acre, the President more than doubled the size of his country with a single stroke of his pen.

At least on paper, half of the west now belonged to the Unites States. But as Lewis left Washington on July 5 to join Clark and proceed to the eastern shore of the Mississippi to make final preparations for their long journey, no one knew for sure what Thomas Jefferson had just bought.

Lewis & Clark -The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns

I've had to put Garp aside for awhile because this new bedside thriller I'd had on order arrived Thursday at our little village library. The lavishly illustrated companion book to the Ken Burns PBS documentary Lewis & Clark and their amazing journey of exploration. It's an inter library loan coming from a library somewhere else in Nova Scotia meaning I can only have it for 3 weeks with no renewals. It's absolutely chock full of amazing paintings, illustrations and maps from that time period, historical photographs and is peppered through out with reproduction pages from their journals ... as many as 50 unique and tres diverse native peoples called this grand place home at that time. Can you imagine the spectacular beauty the Corps of Discovery would have come across - all those lands and wildlife untouched and unspoiled - pre white man ... it must have seemed truly incredible.

We were now about to penetrate a country at least two thousand miles in width, on which the foot of civilized man had never trodden; the good or evil it had in store for us was for experiment yet to determine ... [yet] entertaining as I do, the most confident hope of succeeding in a voyage which had formed a da[r]ling project of mine for the last ten years, I could but esteem this moment of my departure as among the most happy of my life.

Meriwether Lewis
from his journal April 7 1805


  1. Interesting post! Makes me realize I wouldn't mind the expense of our Bailout if we were buying LAND!

  2. Ken Burns documentary is so well done. I've seen in a number of times and now you are giving me the hankering to watch it. Off to my library website...aaaa-gain.

    Don't you just love the name Meriwether Lewis? I have Lewis ancestors and have often wondered if I might be connected way back there somewhere.

  3. right up your alley with lovely maps and all...

    hey...I wonder what the story is about how Canada acquired some of the Oregon Country area....

  4. So vivid. I, too, have often wondered what Lewis and Clark must have seen and felt. What obstacles they faced that either no longer exist or are just no big deal now.

  5. We live where L&C passed. They must have been so discuraged to find the Rockies in their way to the sea, especially with winter breathing down their necks. Then after finding the ocean to spend MONTHS in the rain waiting vainly for rescue. Some humans can be so enduring and resilient.

  6. Love the history post. Their journey is simply amazing and I never get tired of reading about it.

    Hope you had a good day!

    *hugs* Love you tonnes! :)

  7. I haven't watched the documentary but I liked the excerpts you posted very much. I think I'll order it from my own library. Thank you for the heads up.


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