President Jefferson’s Instructions to Captain Merriwether Lewis

 

20 June, 1803

 

To Meriwether Lewis, esquire, Captain of the 1st regiment of infantry of the United States of America.

 

The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it's course & communication with the water of the Pacific ocean may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.

 

Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take observations of latitude and longitude at all remarkable points on the river, & especially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, at islands, etc….

 

The commerce which may be carried on with the people inhabiting the line you will pursue, for a knowledge of these people is important. You will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted…with the names of the nations & their numbers;
     
the extent & 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, & domestic accommodations;
      the diseases prevalent among them, & the remedies they use;
      peculiarities in their laws, customs & dispositions;
      and articles of commerce they may need or furnish, & to what extent.

 

…In all your interaction with the natives, treat them in a friendly and respectful manner.

 

Other objects 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 & accounts of any which
     may be deemed rare or extinct;
     the mineral productions of every kind; but more particularly
     metals, limestone,& coal;

     volcanic appearances;
     climate as characterized by the thermometer, by the
     proportion of rainy, cloudy  & clear days, by lightening, hail,
     snow, ice, by the access & recess of frost, 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.

 

Two copies of your notes…should be made and entrusted to the care of the most trusty individuals in your party.

 


 

Put Jefferson’s instructions in your own words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now you’re ready for your journey.  Go to the National Geographic Society site and take your trip through the Louisiana Territory…

 

 

 

Oval Callout: Bon Voyage!