Chapter 3. The Project Mission

The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it’s course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce.

—T. Jefferson, as quoted in S. Ambrose [1996], p. 94.

With these words, Thomas Jefferson launched the Lewis and Clark expedition of discovery, the most notable event in American exploration. For thirty months, these words drove the members of the expedition on—through brutal physical challenges, frightening Indian encounters, isolated winters, and life-and-death decisions. Writing ...

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