Lewis and Clark
In April of 1803, President Thomas Jefferson decided to ask Napolean, ruler of France, to sell the Louisiana territory. Napolean agreed and Jefferson was very excited about doubling the size of the United States. The only problem was he didn't know exactly how big the Louisiana territory was. So, Jefferson ordered an army expedition at a cost of $2500 to the area to be headed by a young Virginia officer named Meriwether Lewis and Lewis' friend William Clark. In particular, Jefferson wanted the expedition to located a water route across the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean.
Lewis and Clark started west in the spring of 1804. They traveled up the Missouri River to its source in Montana and then Crossed the Rocky Mountains on Indian Horses. After crossing the Rockies, they built canoes and followed the Columbia River toward the Pacific. Two years and four months later they made their way back to St. Louis, Missouri. In a span of 28 months they had covered 8000 miles and made friends with many of the natives. They were the first Americans to have traveled over the western territories. Lewis is pictured on the left and Clark on the Right.