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Long before Thomas Jefferson had come to be the third president of the United States he had a dream to explore the West This dream would end up turning into one of American historys greatest adventure stories of all time Once he became president he contemplated a project of a western expedition with his private secretary Capt Meriwether Lewis pbscom President Jeffersons purpose was to find a land route to the Pacific Ocean to strengthen the American claims to Oregon territory He also wanted to gather information about what inhabitants the West had to offer In 1803 Congress approved their plan and agreed to fund a small group to explore the uncharted West President Jefferson named Lewis to lead the expedition He had no hesitations in doing so He would later write I had now had opportunities of knowing him intimately Stephen E Ambrose 1998 In 1802 Jefferson had spent the summer teaching Lewis many things such as zoology ethnology and astronomy He was pleased with his student Lewis had also had a successful career as a captain in the Army prior to being chosen as the Presidents private Secretary He was able to contribute to the expedition because he possessed an extensive knowledge of native plant and animals Lewis chose one of his prior Army comrades William Clark to help lead the Expedition Clark grew up in Kentucky among the earliest settlers His brother was a General who was a hero in the Revolutionary War While in the Army Clark served during the Northwest Territory Indian wars He had a sufficient amount of experience to assist in leading the team westward The President called the team of explorers the Corps of Discovery The explorers were to turn in detailed reports on the lands geography plants animals and the climate They were also ordered to study the customs and languages of the Indians they encountered Over a period of four years the Corps of Discovery
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