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Meriwether Lewis teamed up with William Clark to form the historic expedition pairing Lewis and Clark, who together explored the lands west of the Mississippi.
Lewis & Clark - The Return (2:21)
In order to learn about the territory in the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson hired explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to map the land.
Perhaps one of the most important people Lewis and Clark would ever encounter was Sacagawea, a young Shoshone girl who helped them navigate the harsh lands of the Western United States.
After they returned from their two year journey, Lewis and Clark were national heroes.
When Thomas Jefferson wanted to unite the country from coast to coast, he chose two very qualified men, Lewis and Clark, to lead an expedition westward to find the best route.
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Traveling to Washington, Lewis and the other members of the expedition received a warm welcome from nearly place they went. Many towns held special events to herald the explorers' return as they passed through. Once reaching the nation's capital, Lewis received payment for his courageous efforts. Along with his salary and 1,600 acres of land,
he was named governor of the Louisiana Territory. Lewis also tried to publish the journals that he and Clark wrote during their great adventure. Always prone to dark moods, he began to have a drinking problem and neglected his duties as governor.
Lewis died on October 12, 1809, at an inn near Nashville, Tennessee. He had been on his way to Washington, D.C., at the time. Most historians believe he committed suicide while a few have contended that he was murdered. Despite his tragic end, Lewis helped change the face of the United States by exploring uncharted territory—the American West. His work inspired many others to follow in his footsteps and created great interest in the region. Lewis also advanced scientific knowledge. Through his careful work numerous discoveries of previously unknown plants and animals were made.
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Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, at the request of President Thomas Jefferson, led an expedition to survey the land West of the Mississippi, known as Louisiana Territory, that had been purchased from France in 1803. Lewis, Clark and the rest of their expedition began their journey near St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1804. This group—often called the Corps of Discovery by historians—faced nearly every obstacle and hardship imaginable on their trip. They braved dangerous waters and harsh weather and endured hunger, illness, injury and fatigue. During their first winter, they recieved help and guidance from Sacagawea, a Shoshone Indian.
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