What impact did the Lewis and Clark expedition have on developing the United States west of the Mississippi River?

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition had an enormous impact on American westward expansion. Arguments have been advanced that President Jefferson’s dispatch of his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, along with Captain William Clark, a noted explorer and soldier, on a journey to observe, note, and map the vast territories beyond the Mississippi River was motivated more by the president’s need to better understand the state of the US Army at its outermost stations. However, Lewis’s participation in the journey to the Pacific provided such a wealth of detail about virtually every facet of geography and nature that the subsequent mass migration of Americans westward was rendered considerably more viable. The expedition named for these two men produced voluminous data on many things either previously unseen or undocumented (by European and/or American eyes) that warrants continued attention today. Note in the following passage from Lewis’s journals his description of just one...

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