Thomas Jefferson: Message to Congress about the Lewis and Clark Expedition

(1803)

Thomas Jefferson’s Message to Congress about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, delivered in 1803, proposed sending an exploratory team to investigate the territory west of the Mississippi River. Twenty-five years after the Declaration of Independence was first signed, the foreign territory beyond the Mississippi remained vast, largely undiscovered terrain to the U.S. government. The land was sparsely populated by various Native American tribes as well as by occasional explorers and trappers from Spain, France, Britain, and the United States. In making his request for a small, specialized group of military personnel, dubbed the Corps of Discovery, to be used for exploration, Jefferson marked a new era in U.S. history: While governmental sponsorship of exploration had been used in other nations, his request was the first made by a president of the United States. Jefferson's Message to Congress about the Lewis and Clark Expedition specifically proposed the use of federal funds...

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Jefferson's message to Congress about Lewis and Clark (National Archives and Records Administration)

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