Happy President’s Day!
Today we look at President Thomas Jefferson and the work he did to support the Lewis and Clark expedition. See President Jefferson’s Letters to the Senate asking for funding, and discussion about his agreement to pay France for the Louisiana Purchase.
“In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson guided a splendid piece of foreign diplomacy through the U.S. Senate: the purchase of Louisiana territory from France. After the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was made, Jefferson initiated an exploration of the newly purchased land and the territory beyond the “great rock mountains” in the West. He chose Meriwether Lewis to lead an expedition, who in turn solicited the help of William Clark. Together they formed a diverse military Corps of Discovery that would undertake a two-year journey to the great ocean.”
“In it (the letter attached), he asked Congress for $2,500 to explore the West â€“ all the way to the Pacific Ocean. At the time, the territory did not belong to the United States. Congress agreed to fund the expedition that would be led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
The modesty of the small request, explained principally in terms of promoting commerce, concealed the greater intentions of Jefferson’s expansionist goals. Jefferson had long been interested in exploration of the North American frontier, and believed that the United States should stretch across the entire continent.
Jefferson instructed Lewis and Clark to seek new trade routes, to establish relations with the western tribes of American Indians, and to report on the geography, geology, astronomy, zoology, botany, and climate of the West. The 8,000-mile expedition provided the U.S. Government with its first glimpse of the vast lands that lay west of the Mississippi River, much of which it would acquire from France with the Louisiana Purchase.”