The famous Lewis and Clark expedition is a story of American pioneering. This first major journey of exploration led the way for vast wilderness to eventually become the “settled” West. Today’s spotlight document focuses on the very start of this expedition, when in 1803 President Thomas Jefferson sent this confidential letter to Congress.
First page of the President Thomas Jefferson Confidential Message to Congress Concerning Relations with the Indians, 1/18/1803. From the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 306698 Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, President Jefferson secretly wrote to Congress requesting $2,500 to send “an intelligent officer, with ten or twelve chosen men” on a mission westward. The primary goal for what would become the 8,000 mile Lewis and Clark expedition was to seek out trade routes—all the way to the Pacific Ocean—and begin relations with the tribes of Native Americans in the West.
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