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By Maurice Isserman, John S. Bowman

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In his dealings with Congress, as with the Spanish ambassador, Jefferson was being less than completely honest. His emphasis on the benefits the expedition might yield for American merchants, although certainly a concern of Jefferson’s, was not the main purpose of the expedition. He said nothing of the scientific observations that he hoped his “intelligent officer” would carry out en route—he rather doubted whether as president he had the authority under the Constitution to launch an expedition for that purpose.

The remains or accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct; The mineral production of every kind. . Volcanic appearances; Climate, as characterised by thermometer, by the proportion of rainy, cloudy, & clear days, by lightning, hail, snow, ice, by the access & recess of frost, by the winds prevailing at different seasons, the dates at which particular plants put forth or lose their flower, or leaf, times of appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects. Returning again to the necessity for guaranteeing that a copy of his notes survive, Jefferson urged Lewis to take advantage of any circumstances that would allow him to send back to Washington, perhaps by friendly Indian couriers, or by any merchant ship they might encounter on the Pacific coast, “a copy of your journal, notes & observations of every kind.

They were assigned the smallest vessel, the 35-footlong white pirogue. Clark’s somewhat undependable count of expedition members has led historians to varying conclusions as to just how many men actually set sail on May 14, with estimates ranging between 43 and 48. LAST CONTACTS WITH WHITE SETTLEMENTS Departing in the late afternoon, the men of what Jefferson had dubbed the “Corps of Discovery” made modest progress that first day. Up the Missouri They crossed the Mississippi and pushed a short way up the Missouri.

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