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Lewis and Clark are two names forever linked These two names the last names of Meriwether and William respectively are that of two of the greatest explorers in the history of the United States With the help of Indians and a group of brave men the vast area west of the Mississippi River was the object of their exploration Lewis was born to a Virginia planter family in 1774 His father who had been an officer in the American Revolution died when Lewis was five years old and for a brief time he lived in Georgia when his mother moved there with her second husband After assuming the management of his familys Virginia plantation Lewis joined the state militia in 1794 to help put down the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania He continued his military career as an officer in the regular army serving on the frontier in Ohio and Tennessee and rising to the rank of captain by 1801 when he accepted an invitation from President Thomas Jefferson an old family friend to serve as his private secretary Even before the Louisiana Territory was purchased from France Jefferson was ready to send an expedition into the frontier In January of 1803 Congress approved a plan for an expedition Jefferson had many reasons for employing the explorers A boundless curiosity for botany zoology and geography was one of Jeffersons main reasons Also Jefferson wanted to establish communication and some interaction with the Indians The purchase of the Louisiana Territory was an entirely unexpected outcome Robert Livingston an ambassador to France was told to discuss the purchase of the port of New Orleans from France After weeks of fruitless efforts to buy the port Livingston got lucky The French in need of money to wage wars in Europe offered him the entire Louisiana Territory A surprised Livingston purchased the entire territory for fifteen million dollars
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