- from Lewis & Clark
For nearly half a year before the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, President Jefferson and Meriwether Lewis studied books and maps of the West, making plans for an expedition that Lewis would lead.
On January 18, 1803, Jefferson made it official: He asked Congress to approve $2,500 for a mission to explore the region. Congress agreed.
Although Jefferson had chosen Lewis to lead the expedition, he trusted Lewis with the task of choosing the rest of the team—including a fellow officer to help him command the crew. In June 1803, Lewis wrote to William Clark, a trusted friend from his army days, asking if he would come with him on this trip. “Believe me,” he wrote, “there is no man on Earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing [this adventure] as with yourself.”
“I will cheerfully join you,” Clark replied. The two did not actually join forces until October. In the meantime, each made preparations for the trip—including picking a few men for their team. Later, when they were together, they chose several more.
Lewis and Clark chose each team member for a reason.