Across America: The Lewis and Clark Expedition (Discovery by Maurice Isserman, John S. Bowman

By Maurice Isserman, John S. Bowman

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And the possibility that the expedition might find a route all the way to the “Western ocean,” was mentioned almost as an afterthought. Any implications such a dis- Q 19 covery might have for the expansion of American territory westward to the Pacific were left unspoken. In any case, candid or not, Jefferson’s message to Congress produced the results he wished for. In February Congress authorized the expedition, with an appropriation for the sum he asked to pay for it (although the $2,500 that Congress appropriated turned out to be about one-sixteenth of the eventual cost).

The entire iron frame for the 30foot-long vessel could be broken down into 10 sections, each weighing about 22 pounds. If the expedition should come to a difficult portage, either along the Missouri or when it reached the Rockies, and was forced to abandon its boats, he believed that the frame could be lugged overland and down to the next nav- Preparing the Way Q 21 igable water, then reassembled and covered in animal skins. Lewis believed it would prove a river-worthy craft, capable of carrying up to 8,000 pounds in passengers and supplies.

Louis, on December 7. He crossed the river to the city the following day. In 1803 St. Louis was celebrating the 40th year since its founding. It was still a very small community of about 1,000 residents huddled along the banks of the Missouri. On December 8, Lewis met with the Spanish governor of the city, Colonel Carlos Dehault Delassus. Colonel Delassus was not overly welcoming. He had as yet received no official notification of the Louisiana Purchase, and he reminded Lewis that as an American 34 Q Across America: The Lewis and Clark Expedition he was still a guest on foreign territory.

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