- from The New Nation
In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to make sure settlers could freely move west.
Meanwhile, France was getting ready for war with the British and needed to raise money. So it sold a huge territory – more than 800,000 square miles – to the United States for $15 million. The land stretched from the city of New Orleans up to Canada, and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.
What was out there? Jefferson wanted to learn more about the area’s resources and geography. So he gave former army officer Meriwether Lewis and his friend William Clark a job. The job was to explore the new land. Lewis and Clark led a group of about 30 people across the Louisiana Purchase and beyond, all the way to the Pacific coast. But they weren’t the only ones who explored the West.