This Day in Tech History

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Westward Ho with L+C and Seaman the Expedition Dog

lewis_clark_mastMay 21, 1804:  Lewis and Clark Expedition Begins

Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, President Jefferson requested that Congress approve $2,500 for an exploratory expedition west.

President Jefferson chose Captain Meriwether Lewis as its leader. Lewis was chosen mainly because he already had some knowledge of the west and was an experienced Army officer. After making further arrangements for the expedition, Lewis decided he wanted a co-captain and selected another Army officer, William Clark.

Lewis on left with Clark and Seaman (inset)

Lewis on left with Clark and Seaman (inset)

The goals of this expedition, as outlined by President Jefferson, were to study the Native American tribes living in the area as well as the plants, animals, geology and terrain of the region.

In addition, President Jefferson wanted the expedition to find a direct waterway to the West Coast.


Lewis and Clark’s expedition officially began on May 21, 1804 when they and the 33 other men making up the Corps of Discovery departed from their camp near St. Louis, Missouri.

Lewis and Clark’s first report to President Jefferson chronicled 108 plant species and 68 mineral types.

Rendition witt African American York and Sacagawea

Rendition with African American York and Sacagawea

The Corps at last reached the Pacific Ocean in December 1805.

Although Lewis and Clark did not find a direct waterway from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, their expedition brought a wealth of knowledge about the newly purchased lands in the west. For example, the expedition provided extensive facts on the Northwest’s natural resources. Lewis and Clark were able to document over 100 animal species and over 170 plants. They also brought back information on the size, minerals and the geology of the area.

Compass used in the expedition

Compass used in the expedition

Seaman…for the dog lovers out there : D

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Seaman:  Discovery Dog of Lewis and Clark’s overland expedition. Seaman was a black “Newfoundland” dog that became famous for being a member of the first Lewis / Clark overland expedition from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast and back. Captain Lewis Meriwether Lewis purchased Seaman for $20.


Click to enlarge

Monument to Lewis, Clark & Seaman

Monument to Lewis, Clark & Seaman

Seaman experienced many hardships some of which includes a beaver bite, mosquito bites (which were so bad they made Seaman howl from the pain, and was stolen by the Indians, Captain Lewis threatened the indians by saying he would send three armed men to kill the indian tribe. Seaman had a creek named after him in Montana named Seaman Creek. Today called Monture Creek. Seaman laid on the grave of Meriwether Lewis when he died and Seaman is believed to have died from dehydration and malnutrition

Complete Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition:

Long Haul
The expedition traveled over 8000 total miles over a period of 2 years, 4
months and 10 days.

Good Guess
When the expedition reached the Pacific, Clark estimates they have traveled 4,162 miles from the mouth of the Missouri to the Pacific. His guess was within 40 miles of the actual distance.

What a Deal
Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory, 820,000 square miles, for $15 million. After interest the final total came to be $27,267,622. That still works out to be only about 3¢ an acre!

An Equal Opportunity Expedition
When the expedition reached the Pacific the party voted on where to spend the winter. York, Clark’s slave, is allowed to vote, nearly 60 years before slaves in the U.S. would be emancipated. Sacagawea is also allowed to vote, more than a century before either women or Native Americans are granted full rights of citizenship.

While hunting in present day North Dakota, Lewis was accidentally shot (in the behind) by Pierre Cruzatte, a nearsighted member of the crew.

Good Boy
Before the expedition began Lewis purchased a Newfoundland dog, Seaman, for $20. Although not mentioned very often in their journals, it is believed that Seaman made the entire journey.

What’s for Dinner?
When game was plentiful, each man ate about 9 pounds of meat per day.

A Lewis & Clark Rap 🙂


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