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His widowed mother married another Army officer, Captain John Marks, six months later. The young Lewis was said to have an eye for plants, which was encouraged by his mother Lucy, a noted herb doctor. Lewis joined the U. Army in , serving six years in the Frontier Army and rising to the rank of captain in , then serving as paymaster of the First Infantry Regiment of the U. In early , Lewis was appointed by President Jefferson to be his personal secretary. In early , Congress approved the expedition, which would be the first in series of military explorations launched by the U.

Lewis possessed many intellectual and physical qualities, which were refined during additional training prior to the start of the expedition. Physically, he was in superb condition, over six feet tall with a lean frame. Given his army conditioning, he was fiercely loyal, disciplined, and flexible, yet was also prone to being moody, speculative, and melancholic.

His keen sense of observation and knack for writing detailed naturalistic and ethnographic accounts would prove to be invaluable for a man who would lead this strategically important expedition.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

Lewis had an especially sharp eye for the details of flora and fauna, which is reflected in his journals. Lewis learned the theories and practices of navigation first from Jefferson, then later from trained astronomers and cartographers in Philadelphia. He took in all the data known about the Western frontier at the time, including distances, topography, and potential enemies, much of which his expedition would end up revising.

After the Louisiana Purchase was completed on April 30, , it became more clear that the expedition was not simply charged with scientific inquiry, geographic mapping, and clearing the way for commerce.

Robert Frazer | Discovering Lewis & Clark ®

The mission was to be more diplomatic, in that it would require the explorers to communicate the transfer of sovereignty to every Indian tribe and foreign interest occupying the lands within the Missouri watershed. This increase in importance warranted a need for a second-in-command to be named to assist Lewis on the journey. Both Jefferson and Lewis thought of William Clark, under whom Lewis had served briefly during his army career.

How the Lewis & Clark Expedition Changed America

Lewis and the President offered him a permanent commission as captain jumping him up a full rank , with equal rank to Lewis should he accept the command. Lewis asked that Clark respond to him in Pittsburgh, where he would be readying boats and supplies for the journey. At the University of Pennsylvania , Benjamin Smith Barton taught him about botanical collecting and the French presence in Louisiana.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition - The Discovery of the US West Coast

Lewis then learned about medicines and diseases from Benjamin Rush , and animals and fossils from Caspar Wistar Famously, Jefferson suggested to the explorers that they might encounter a living one in the field, the idea of extinction being then uncertain. Louis and the Pacific Ocean—Lewis returned to Philadelphia and bequeathed many of his western treasures to Peale.

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Peale then displayed the objects, mostly diplomatic gifts from western Indians, in a special exhibit and painted portraits of both Lewis and Clark that remain on display at Independence National Historical Park. Even a forged account of the expedition from , created by a shady printer named Hubbard Lester, came out of Philadelphia. Whether Lewis and Clark are remembered as national heroes or imperial soldiers, their project connected the extraordinary scientific world of Philadelphia with the extraordinary American West.

He writes about the American West and environmental history. Blackhawk, Ned. Cambridge, Mass. Cutright, Paul Russell. Duncan, Dayton. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press Fresonke, Kris and Mark Spence.

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