Mapping America – The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

The Birth of an American Adventure

Born on August 1, 1770, William Clark was one of the most prominent explorers in American history. Along with Meriwether Lewis, Clark embarked on a fantastic expedition across the Louisiana Territory in 1804, and they secured their place in history by claiming the Pacific Northwest for the United States. In celebration of Clark’s birthday, here’s a recap of the expedition that proved to be a crucial juncture in American exploration.


On the tracks of Lewis and Clark in United States in 1997 – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (on the right). (Photo by Jean-Erick PASQUIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

In 1803, the United States purchased Louisiana from France, which meant bringing approximately 828,000,000 unexplored squares miles of territory. At the time, the Louisiana Territory stretched from the Canadian border in the North to the Gulf of Mexico in the south, and from the Rocky Mountains in the West to the Mississippi River in the East. Because the acquisition of Louisiana doubled the territory of the country, President Jefferson decided to send an exploratory expedition. He appointed Meriwether Lewis, his private secretary, as a commander in Charger. Lewis then selected William Clark, his superior officer from the Army as his co-commander.

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