Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Lewis and Clark

On this day in 1806, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned from their more than two year journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back again.  Before the Louisiana Purchase agreement with France was even set in stone, President Jefferson commissioned an expedition into the largely unknown American northwest (except by the indigenous people already there, of course).  Meriwether Lewis was Jefferson's personal secretary, while Clark was an army captain.  They, along with 28 men and 1 woman (Sacagawea) left Saint Louis on May 14th 1804.  They traveled up the Missouri River and spent their first brutal winter in what is now North Dakota.  As soon as the weather allowed, they crossed Montana and saw the Rockies for the first time.  Can you imagine?  They made it over the mountains and encountered Sacagawea's tribe, the Shoshone.  They traversed the dangerous waters of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers, which lead them into the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.  On the day that the explorers reached the sea, Lewis' journal entry read,"Ocean in view! Oh! The Joy!".  The expedition suffered only one death, Charles Floyd, who died of appendicitis, near what is now Sioux City, Iowa.  
I think what amazes me most about the expedition isn't what was learned from it, though, that was surely ground breaking.  Because of the expedition, the west was opened, westward expansion occurred, setting the ground work for what America would become.  What I find truly extraordinary was the courage that the whole undertaking took.  First, that Jefferson had the vision and the courage to send these people into the great unknown and the courage that it took for them to go.  Some things are worth every risk.  These people weren't mythic or for the most part extraordinary.  I don't mean to denigrate them by saying this.  The fact that they were somewhat ordinary figures is really inspiring to me.   It makes it seem possible that we can all make a difference in the future of our great country.
The days ahead for this country are going to require this same kind undaunted courage.  Let's hope that we are all ready for the challenge.  America is worth the struggle.


Anne E. Mitchell said...

Nice words lass and very well stated!
Thanks for the important reminder.
It is one that we should pay attention to for sure!

cindi's blahg blahg blahg said...

I love reading what you write! Why aren't you published?? Oh - are you? The message is great too!
It should be mandatory reading.

Cristina Leonard said...

Thanks guys! I appreciate the nice words!

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