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55. The Lewis and Clark expe
We, therefore, respectfully pray that so much of the law abovementioned, as provides for the temporary government of this country, as divides it into two Territories, and prohibits the importation of slaves, be repealed. And that prompt and efficacious measures may be taken to incorporate the inhabitants of Louisiana into the Union of the United States, and admit them to all the rights, privileges, and immunities, of the citizens thereof. . . .
P. Sauve L. Debigny Destrehan
About three months before the Louisiana territory was purchased from France, Jefferson, by a special message, dition, 1803- persuaded Congress to sanction and support a scientific exploring expedition from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coasta scheme in which he had been interested for twenty years.1 Jefferson selected Meriwether Lewis, his private secretary, to lead the expedition. His instructions to Lewis are contained in a letter of June 20, 1803:
To Meriwether Lewis, Esquire, Captain of the 1st regiment of infantry of the United States of America: Your situation as Secretary of the President of the United States has made you acquainted with the objects of my confidential message of Jan. 18, 1803, to the legislature. You have seen the act they passed, which, tho' expressed in general terms, was meant to sanction those objects, and you are appointed to carry them into execution.
Instruments for ascertaining by celestial observations the geography of the country thro' which you will pass, have already been provided, light articles for barter, & presents among the Indians, arms for your attendants, say for from 10 to 12 men, boats, tents, & other travelling apparatus, with ammunition,
1 In 1783 Jefferson had proposed to George Rogers Clark, the hero of Vincennes, to head an expedition "for exploring the Country from the Mississippi to California."— Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, ed. R. G. Thwaites, Vol. I, p. xx.
medicine, surgical instruments & provisions you will have prepared with such aids as the Secretary at War can yield in his department; & from him also you will receive authority to engage among our troops, by voluntary agreement, the number of attendants above mentioned, over whom you, as their commanding officer, are invested with all the powers the laws give in such a case. . . .
Your mission has been communicated to the Ministers here from France, Spain, & Great Britain, and through them to their governments and such assurances given them as to it's objects as we trust will satisfy them.1...
The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it's course & communication with the waters of the Pacific Ocean, may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purpose of commerce.
The commerce which may be carried on with the people inhabiting the line you will pursue, renders a knolege [knowledge] of these people important. You will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted . . . with the names of the nations & their numbers; the extent and limits of their possessions; their relations with other tribes or nations; their language, traditions, monuments; their ordinary occupations in agriculture, fishing, hunting, war, arts, & the implements for these; their food, clothing, and domestic accomodations; the diseases prevalent among them, and the remedies they use; moral & physical circumstances which distinguish them from the tribes we know; peculiarities in their laws, customs, and dispositions; the articles of commerce they may need or furnish, & to what extent. . . .
Other object[s] worthy of notice will be the soil & face of the country, it's growth & vegetable productions; especially those not of the U.S.; the animals of the country generally, & especially those not known in the U.S.; the remains and accounts of any which may [be] deemed rare or extinct; the mineral
1 The student must bear in mind that until we took over the Louisiana territory from France, some time after this letter was written, all of the land west of the Mississippi was in the hands or subject to the claims of the foreign powers mentioned here by Jefferson.
productions of every kind; but more particularly metals, limestone, pit coal & saltpetre; . . . Volcanic appearances; climate as characterized by the thermometer . . . by the winds prevailing at different seasons, the dates at which particular plants put forth or lose their flowers, or leaf, times of appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects. . . .
In all your intercourse with the natives treat them in the most friendly & conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit; allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey; satisfy them of it's innocence, make them acquainted with the position, extent, character, peaceable & commercial dispositions of the U.S. of our will to be neighborly, friendly & useful to them. ...
Should you reach the Pacific Ocean . . . inform yourself of the circumstances which may decide whether the furs of those parts may not be collected as advantageously at the head of the Missouri as at Nootka sound or any other point of that coast; & that trade be consequently conducted through the Missouri & U.S. more beneficially than by the circumnavigation now practised.
On your arrival on that coast endeavor to learn if there be any port within your reach frequented by the sea-vessels of any nation, and to send two of your trusty people back by sea... with a copy of your notes. And should you be of opinion that the return of your party by the way they went will be eminently dangerous, then ship the whole & return by sea by way of Cape Horn or the Cape of good Hope as you shall be able. As you will be without money, clothes, or provisions, you must endeavor to use the credit of the U.S. to obtain them; for which purpose open letters of credit shall be furnished you authorizing you to draw on the Executive of the U.S. or any of its officers in any part of the world. . . .
Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy, to be entered distinctly, & intelligibly for others as well as yourself, . . . several copies of these . . . should be made at leisure times, & put into the care of the most trustworthy of your attendants, to guard by multiplying them, against the accidental losses to which they will be exposed. A further guard would be that one of these copies be written on the paper of the birch, as less liable to injury from damp than common paper....
To provide, on the accident of your death, against anarchy, dispersion, & the consequent danger to your party, and total failure of the enterprise, you are hereby authorized, by any instrument signed & written in your hand, to name the person among them who shall succeed to the command on your decease.... Given under my hand at the city of Washington, this 20th day of June 1803
Pr. U. S. of America
John Ordway, first sergeant of the expedition, wrote his parents just before the company started from camp at the mouth of the Missouri River:
Camp River Dubois, April the 8th, 1804
Honored Parents: I now embrace this opportunity of writing to you once more to let you know where I am and where I am going. I am well thank God and in high Spirits. I am now on an expedition to the westward, with Capt. Lewis and Capt. Clark, who are appointed by the President of the united States to go on an Expedition through the interior parts of North America, we are to ascend the Missouri River with a boat as far as it is navigable and then go by land to the western ocean, if nothing prevents. This party consists of 25 picked men of the armey and country likewise and I am so happy as to be one of them picked men from the armey and I and all the party are if we live to return to receive our discharge when ever we return again to the united States if we choose it. This place is on the Mississippi River opposite to the mouth of the Missouri River and we are to start in ten days up the Missouri River, this has been our winter quarters, we expect to be gone 18 months or two years, we are to receive a great reward for this expedition 15 dollars a month1 and at least 400 ackers [acres]
1 In a draft of receipts for compensation for the expedition John Ordway's name appears first, acknowledging the receipt of $266.66 for thirty-three months ten days' services (January 1, 1804, to October 10, 1806) at eight dollars a month. The privates received five dollars a month. Thwaites, Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Vol. VII, p. 360.
of first rate land and if we make great discoveries as we expect the united States has promised to make us great rewards, more than we are promised. .
I have received no letters since Betseys yet but will write next winter if I have a chance.
John Ordway Segt.
56. British and French aggressions
THE WAR OF 1812
The great struggle between France and England, which lasted with scarcely a breathing space from 1793 to 1815, involved all the nations of western Europe and their colonies in the distant parts of the earth. It was only in the ships of the United States, under a neutral flag, that the valuable food products of the French, Dutch, and Spanish colonies could be brought to European ports. Our exports increased from $20,000,000 in 1790 to $108,000,000 in 1807, or three and one-half times as rapidly as our popu lation; and the tonnage of vessels engaged in foreign trade rose from 346,000 in 1790 to 984,000 in 1810. Each of the two great belligerent powers tried to break up this trade in so far as it benefited the other. Each called our commerce with the other "war in disguise against itself." Each issued a series of decrees and orders hostile to our commerce.1 And each committed acts of violence in the forcible stoppage of our ships and impressment of our crews that were ample cause for war. The following examples show what indignities the Americans suffered years before they were provoked to the formal declaration of war :
1 At the request of the Senate, Secretary of State Madison compiled a list of acts and decrees hostile to our commerce passed by the British, French, and Spanish governments between March, 1793, and October, 1808. He enumerates thirty-one British and eighteen French instances. - American State Papers, "Foreign Relations," Vol. III, pp. 262-292.