Undaunted Courage

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In the introduction to his biography of the great Western explorer Meriwether Lewis, Stephen E. Ambrose admits to a long- standing “obsession” with the Lewis and Clark expedition that led him to spend most of his Independence Days over the last two decades at the Lemhi Pass in Idaho, where his subject crossed the Continental Divide on his way to the Pacific in 1805. Originally intending a biography of William Clark but learning that one was in progress, and advised that new material on Lewis had come to light since his life was last written more than thirty years ago, Ambrose chose to focus on the man President Thomas Jefferson selected to open the West to the young republic.

Ambrose brought to the project not only his obsession but also his experience as the biographer of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon and a talent for zesty narrative. The result is not only one of the best retellings of the oft-told story of the expedition but also a probing of the enigmatic character of a man who, while still in his twenties, earned and largely justified the full confidence of Jefferson; one who returned from his incredible three-year overland round trip to the mouth of the Columbia River a national hero, yet took his own life three years later in an obscure inn in rural Tennessee.

Born into a patrician Virginia family in 1774, Meriwether Lewis, whose father died young, found himself master of a substantial plantation at the age of eighteen, but he was not cut out for the sedentary life. He joined the Virginia militia at age twenty, served in the military action against the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, and rose to the rank of captain by 1800. The following year, President Jefferson made him his personal secretary. Lewis lived in the president’s house (not yet called the White House) and impressed Jefferson as the man he needed to find an overland route to the Pacific. Jefferson had multiple motives for such an expedition. Spain, France, Britain, and Russia all had claims on portions of the vast territory west of the Mississippi River, which Jefferson wanted for American trade, security, and something about which he felt no need to blush—empire. He also hungered for scientific knowledge of the unknown area between the territory of the Mandan tribes on the Missouri River (in modern North Dakota) and the mouth of the Columbia River on the Pacific coast. One of the most learned men of his time, Jefferson nevertheless had no idea of the immensity of the Rocky Mountains and believed in the possibility of an all-water route to the Pacific.

Lewis possessed all the qualities that such an expedition required except education, which Jefferson proceeded to give him, personally and through crash courses in botany, zoology, mineralogy, astronomy, and medicine from Jefferson’s scientific friends in Philadelphia. Lewis learned quickly, and, by June of 1803, he was ready. Jefferson gave him carte blanche to draft the most qualified men he could find to undertake the journey. Authorized a second-in-command, he seized upon William Clark, once his commander, and insisted on an arrangement normally shunned in the military: a shared command. In Washington, D.C., Clark was recognized only as a lieutenant; to everyone on the expedition, however, he was Captain Clark. Clark did, however, draw a captain’s pay, and the unusual co-command seemed to work smoothly at all times. While Lewis engaged in the multitude of necessary preparations, Jefferson was busy buying from France the Louisiana Territory—a vaguely defined entity stretching from the Mississippi to the mountains of the...

(This entire section contains 2153 words.)

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West. So when Lewis, with an initial group of eight recruits, began his descent of the Ohio River from Pittsburgh in a fifty-five-foot galley on August 31, 1803, he would be in the United States not merely to the Mississippi but, nominally at least, for many months beyond St. Louis. Jefferson instructed him to develop peaceful relations with all the diverse Indian tribes he would meet along the way and to record minutely the scientific data that the president craved.

It was a back-breaking trip from the start. The Ohio River was low that fall, in many places barely floating the vessel. This part of the journey took nearly two and a half months. Reaching the Mississippi, Lewis faced the prospect of urging the craft upstream to the Missouri and then sailing, paddling, poling, boosting it up that river as far as it went—how far he had no idea. At St. Louis and at a camp established nearby, Lewis had to complete the roster of the approximately thirty men who would make up the expedition, lay in supplies, and generally make all necessary preparations for a journey into the unknown expected to last more than two years. Finally, in May of 1804, they were off.

The bulk of Ambrose’s book thereafter is a lively narrative of this dangerous and frequently harrowing journey. Mostly soldiers, his group also included Clark’s resourceful slave York and, beginning in the Mandan villages, the family consisting of the French-Canadian trader Toussaint Charbonneau, his remarkable teenaged Shoshone wife Sacagawea, and their infant son. Lewis and Clark wanted Charbonneau as an interpreter; Ambrose makes it clear that they never did value Sacagawea, or for that matter York, properly.

Any decently written account of this wilderness adventure is bound to be interesting, but several virtues lift Ambrose’s above the ordinary. He has an eye for the small but pivotal event that alters history. He notes that the twenty-one-year-old Lewis met Clark in the first place because the former had to be transferred to Clark’s rifle company following an irreconcilable conflict with a lieutenant in another outfit apparently brought about by one of Lewis’ besetting weaknesses—drink. Ambrose details and reflects upon several crucial moments the expedition might have come to ruin. A conflict which erupted soon after entering Sioux territory in September, 1804, exemplified the restraint that the impulsive Lewis usually managed to summon in emergencies. Struggling to avoid conflict in the face of severe provocation, Lewis must have struggled with the temptation to loose a bit of cannon fire upon the provocative Sioux that might have ended all chances for success then and there, but Lewis found that holding a lighted taper near the charge proved sufficient.

Ambrose also handles ably those occasions when the historical record remains silent. He re-creates imaginatively scenes such as the reunification of Lewis and Clark at the beginning of their expedition three years after their earlier military service together. In his penultimate chapter, Ambrose rehearses the thoughts that might have drifted through Lewis’ mind the night of his suicide. In such instances, the author is careful to inform his readers, ready to be swept along by the drama of the moment, that the scenes he creates are only—can only be—conjectural.

He deserves much credit also for never allowing the compelling physical adventure and conflict to obscure Lewis’ faithful adherence to Jefferson’s insistence on the scientific importance of the expedition. He stresses Lewis’ patient recording of the minutiae of flora and fauna that were in many cases totally unknown to the scientific community of the day. Ambrose also surveys critically those situations in which Lewis had to make decisions respecting the safeguarding of the notes and journals with their painstakingly detailed descriptions of the topography and life of the wilderness and the astronomical measurements necessary to determine latitude and longitude—and sometimes he finds Lewis wanting. On the return trip, Lewis undertook a side expedition with a small party to explore the Marias tributary of the Missouri in territory controlled by the dreaded Blackfeet Indians. This incident, which has been much praised by other writers as illustrating many of Lewis’ more sterling qualities, Ambrose regards as an ill- considered venture that unnecessarily threatened the fruits of the expedition and its members. He never allows his admiration for Lewis’ resourcefulness, “courage undaunted” (Jefferson’s phrase), leadership, and versatility to cloud his perception of Lewis’ judgment, whose quality Ambrose finds sometimes open to doubt.

Ambrose acknowledges but properly does not dwell upon the vices Lewis shared with other well-bred Virginian males of his time: sexism, racism, chauvinism. He never seemed to perceive, much less employ, Sacagawea’s potential linguistic and diplomatic usefulness to the expedition. Nor would it have occurred to him—as it did to slaveholding Jefferson—to question the institution of slavery, though Clark’s refusal even to consider York’s request for reunion with his wife (a piece of someone else’s property in another state) is the best example in the book of the ingrained racism of the Virginia gentleman in the early nineteenth century. Indians, on the other hand, were viewed as potentially regenerate commercial partners—as long as they understood who was regulating trade. Of the right and destiny of the United States to effect control of this vast wilderness neither he nor Jefferson had any doubts.

Although close to being the ideal commander of such a venture, Lewis demonstrated on his return how unfit he was either to arrange for the publication of his jealously guarded journals or to govern the Territory of Louisiana following Jefferson’s appointment of him to that post in February of 1807. His obsession with commercial prospects in the West inevitably fostered charges of neglect of duty and conflicts of interest. His short temper irked his immediate subordinate, the politically experienced Frederick Bates. The spirit of independence nurtured by his close relationship with Jefferson and three years of unquestioned military authority did not serve him well in his new position, especially after James Madison succeeded Jefferson as president. Why Lewis did not so much as appoint an editor for his journal remains a mystery to this day.

His personal life also deteriorated. Despite being a handsome hero who longed for a wife, none of his courtships thrived. He resumed the hard drinking that he had necessarily kept in check on the trail. Drugs which he took to ward off the effects of malaria also took their toll, and he piled up debts. Ambrose admits that the explanation of Lewis’ decline can only be problematical but inclines toward the view that Lewis was a manic depressive.

As partial evidence, Ambrose offers the long, unaccountable gaps in Lewis’ journal while on the expedition (although his supposed disorder did not seem to affect his leadership or day-to- day relationships with his men). He could lead soldiers and explore unflaggingly, but he could not always bring himself to write. What he did write is detailed and impressive, but he could not pursue systematically the steps needed to make it available for his countrymen. Fortunately, Clark and other soldiers also kept journals.

Burned out at age thirty-five, Lewis lapsed into psychosis on a trip to Washington, D.C. Although some writers have argued that Lewis was murdered, neither of the men who knew him best—William Clark and Thomas Jefferson—doubted that his death was a suicide. Five years later Nicholas Biddle, urged on by Clark, published a paraphrase of Lewis’ journal, but a complete edition with all of his observations of flora and fauna, did not appear until 1904, exactly one century after the party started up the Missouri River. In the meantime, most of his—and Clark’s—original discoveries were rediscovered and renamed. Thus, as Ambrose points out, Lewis lost his chance to rank as one of the great naturalists of the century.

Undaunted Courage does contain a few lapses in accuracy and judgment. Ambrose’s praise of Lewis’ phrasing in his journals as “better” than that of James Joyce and William Faulkner (on page 67) is ludicrous. In describing the prior adventures of Alexander Mackenzie on page 73, Ambrose identifies the “Northern Ocean” as the Atlantic; it should be the Arctic. He places the city of The Dalles in the modern state of Washington instead of Oregon (page 302). Also, the chronology of his account of Lewis’ 1808 life in St. Louis as territorial governor is needlessly awkward and confusing. Occasionally a short stretch of prose is inserted, word-for-word, in two different places. These errors do not, however, seriously mar this fine narrative of Meriwether Lewis’ part in American history.

The documentation is full and easy to consult. Ambrose identifies his sources fully not only in the bibliography but once in the notes to each chapter. As a consequence, the reader does not face the all-too-common experience of hunting through pages of notes to pin down a reference.

Sources for Further Study

Chicago Tribune. March 3, 1996, XIV, p. 1.

The Christian Science Monitor. April 3, 1996, p. 15.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. April 7, 1996, p. 3.

The New York Review of Books. XLIII, April 4, 1996, p. 18.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, March 10, 1996, p. 9.

Newsweek. CXXVII, February 19, 1996, p. 70.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLII, December 4, 1995, p. 46.

The Wall Street Journal. January 30, 1996, p. A16.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVI, February 11, 1996, p. 3.

Wild West. IX, December, 1996, p. 74.

Historical Context

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The Revolutionary War In 1774, the year that Lewis was born, the present-day United States was still only thirteen British colonies, but they were colonies that were dissatisfied with their lack of representation in the British Parliament. The Revolutionary War began with fighting at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, and the following year, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence of which Thomas Jefferson was the primary author. The Revolutionary War ended in an American victory in 1783, and the United States of America was established.

The First U.S. Government The first U.S. government was the Articles of Confederation. This was a relatively weak government, lacking even an executive branch, and in 1787, state delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution. George Washington was elected president of the new nation by a unanimous vote. He appointed Jefferson as his secretary of state, but Jefferson resigned that position in 1793.

Several challenges faced the new nation. Britain and France were at war, and the United States had a difficult time maintaining its neutrality. The United States also had problems with Spanish Florida and Louisiana. A 1795 treaty resolved border issues and ensured U.S. shipping along the Mississippi. At home, Washington faced conflict on the frontier. An Indian confederation launched an uprising in the Northwest Territory, which was put down by U.S. troops. Washington also sent more than 10,000 soldiers to western Pennsylvania to settle the Whiskey Rebellion, which arose after new taxes affected whiskey producers. Washington stepped down after two terms, and John Adams was elected president. During his administration, increasing divisions grew between the Federalist and the Democratic-Republican parties.

The Jefferson Years Jefferson, an ardent Republican, was elected the nation’s third president. He was the first president to be inaugurated in the new capital city of Washington. From his first months in office, Jefferson faced difficulties with his Federalist opponents. He refused to allow dozens of Federalist judges to take office. Adams had made these appointments on his last evening as president. William Marbury, one of the judges, demanded that the Supreme Court force the executive branch to hand over his commission, but Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the Supreme Court did not have this power. His decision established the principle of judicial review—the Supreme Court has the right to declare an act of Congress to be unconstitutional.

The Louisiana Purchase Spain had held Louisiana since 1762 until a secret treaty gave Louisiana to France. Spain was having difficulties defending the territory from American settlers. France’s leader Napoleon Bonaparte dreamed of rebuilding France’s North American empire. He hoped that by occupying Louisiana, the French would replace the Spanish as the key European power in western North America. However, a slave rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue—present-day Haiti—taxed France’s resources, leaving few soldiers to defend the recently acquired Louisiana.

Jefferson was alarmed when he heard of the treaty between France and Spain because a French-occupied Spain could block westward U.S. expansion. Also, the French could interfere with U.S. trade along the Mississippi River. Jefferson sent U.S. ambassador Robert Livingstone to France to try to negotiate the purchase of New Orleans, which would ensure continued American use of the Mississippi. The French minister stunned Americans with France’s willingness to sell all of Louisiana. Napoleon had several reasons for this action. First, about to go to war with Britain, France did not want to have to fight the United States as well. Additionally, the French had no troops in Louisiana because they all had been sent to Saint Domingue. Also, Louisiana would be hard to protect, and Napoleon was able to sell it for the money he needed to buy military supplies. Lastly, Napoleon hoped that by selling to the United States, he could create a challenge to Britain’s power in North America.

The two sides signed a treaty on May 2, 1803, selling Louisiana to the United States in exchange for $15 million. The Senate approved the treaty with France on October 20, making the Louisiana Purchase official. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States. Although the boundaries of the territory were not clearly defined—for in stance, the United States did not know how far northward the region extended—Americans did know it stretched west all the way to the Rocky Mountains.

Western Explorations Aside from the Lewis and Clark expedition, there were other important western explorations. Zebulon Pike, a young army officer, was sent on a mission to find the starting point of the Red River, which runs through Louisiana along the border of northern Texas. This river was important because the United States claimed that the Red River formed the Louisiana Territory’s western border with New Spain. Pike led his expedition to the Rocky Mountains in present-day Colorado, and then in 1807, he headed south into present-day New Mexico. He and his group traveled to the Rio Grande, which was part of New Spain, where they were arrested by the Spanish cavalry. Pike was eventually released, and when he returned to the United States, he reported on the excellent opportunities for doing business with the Spanish in the Southwest.

American Indians and the United States Since colonists had first arrived in North America, these immigrants had pushed American Indians off their lands and further to the west. In 1794, the defeat of an Indian confederation in the Northwest Territory led to the signing of the Treaty of Greenville. This treaty gave the United States access to some Indian lands in the Northwest Territory and guaranteed safe travel for U.S. citizens crossing Indian lands in that region. Throughout the early 1800s, thousands of American settlers poured into this region, establishing farms and settlements. The British government, hoping to staunch this expansion, provided military aid to Indian nations in the Northwest Territory. Shawnee chief Tecumseh dreamed of uniting the American Indians of the Northwest Territory, the South, and the eastern Mississippi River valley in opposition to the settlers. William Henry Harrison—who later became president—was the governor of the Indiana Territory. He saw Tecumseh as a serious threat to American power. In 1811, Harrison forces attacked the Indian confederation. They forced the retreat of the Indian warriors, effectively ending Tecumseh’s dream of an Indian confederation.

The War of 1812 Many Americans believed that the British had incited the Indians against the United States. Members of Congress began calling for war against Britain. Some of these representatives further believed that a successful war could enlarge the United States, adding Florida and Canada to the country. Federalists from New England posed the strongest opposition to these ‘‘War Hawks.’’ President James Madison, however, declared that Britain—which had been impressing American sailors and violating U.S. neutrality—was already at war with the United States. In June of 1812, the War of 1812 began. With the victory that came in December 1814, the United States again redrew its boundaries.

America in the 1990s In 1992, the Democrats regained the presidency for the first time in twelve years when Bill Clinton was elected for the first of two terms. In 1994, however, voters gave Republicans control of both the House and the Senate. The Clinton administration faced domestic and foreign challenges. Under Clinton, the country experienced a remarkable economic boom and balanced the federal budget for the first time in years. Problems arose, however, over racial violence and other hate crimes. The United States confronted global crises as regional conflict grew in Eastern Europe. Thousands of UN forces, including U.S. troops, played a successful role in peacekeeping missions throughout the world, in places such as Cambodia and El Salvador. UN forces went to famine-stricken Somalia and wartorn Bosnia and Herzegovina, with mixed results.

Literary Style

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BiographyUndaunted Courage is a work that can be placed in many categories. In its essence, it is the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition. However, it also is a biography of Lewis. Unlike most other writers, Ambrose delves into Lewis’ early life and his post-expedition life. While the journey was the highlight of Lewis’ life, Ambrose shows how Lewis’ desire for adventure and the expedition itself affected him overall. Before setting out on the expedition, Lewis was prone to seek out new experiences. He joined the militia. He traveled the frontier as part of his army service. After the expedition had ended, life no longer offered Lewis the drama to which he had become accustomed. He discovered that he did not fit into the conventional, civilized world. He was unsuccessful as a governor, and despite concerted efforts, he was unable to find a wife. Lewis, prone to fits of melancholy and depression, lapsed into alcoholism and most likely committed suicide only a few years after returning from the expedition. Undaunted Courage also is a sort of biography of American expansionism. To this end, Ambrose includes a history of the origins of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Jefferson’s own interest in exploring the western part of North America dated all the way back to 1750 when his father was a member of a land company awarded frontier territory west of the Appalachian mountains. In the decade following the end of the Revolutionary War, Jefferson instigated three out of four plans to explore the West. The successful embarking of the Lewis and Clark expedition was the culmination of Jefferson’s dreams, inspired in no small part by British expansionism in the Pacific Northwest.

First-Person Narrative Ambrose introduces first-person narrative into his work by including numerous excerpts from Lewis’ and Clark’s journals and letters, thus allowing the leaders to make their unique presence and personality felt. Shorter quotes are woven into the narrative, making it more vivid. Longer quotes give a greater sense of what was important to the leaders and how they looked at their adventure. These primary sources provide a deeper comprehension of the leaders’ personal response to the expedition. From a practical point of view, they also enable historians to map out actions and events. The crucial importance of such sources is underscored when Ambrose turns his pen to Lewis’ last years. Lewis did not keep a journal, and significantly less information is known about what he did and why. There is even an eight-month period of his life that is essentially a ‘‘lost period’’ to historians.

Images Along with excerpts from journal entries and Ambrose’s careful analysis of events, Undaunted Courage includes maps and other illustrations pertaining to the expedition and the American West. The maps are extremely helpful in following the progress of the journey and getting a sense of the distances and landscapes traveled. The other illustrations include journal pages, artwork, portraits, and artifacts, all of which provide readers a stronger sense of the historical period. Journal pages give an insight into the personality of the writer; for example, several entries show Lewis’ sketches of some of the birds and fish he saw around Fort Clatsop. The inclusion of artwork of American Indians, as well as the western environment, is particularly interesting because these images do not actually date as far back as the expedition. Artists were not present to render any of the scenes witnessed by Lewis and Clark. The first artist to capture images of American Indians was George Catlin, who did not begin traveling through the western lands until 1830.

Compare and Contrast

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Early 1800s: In 1803, after the Louisiana Purchase, the area of the United States is 1,716,003 square miles, stretching across the North American continent to the Rocky Mountains.

Today: The area of the United States is 3,717,796 square miles including Alaska and Hawaii.

Early 1800s: In 1805, the U.S. population is about 6.3 million, up 1 million from five years earlier. The western regions see enormous growth; for instance, the population of Louisiana grows from 77,000 in 1810 to 153,000 in 1820.

Today: The U.S. population is over 270 million.

Early 1800s: In 1803, war breaks out between longtime enemies France and Great Britain.

Today: Both France and Great Britain are members of the European Union (EU), an organization with the goal of creating economic and political ties among the countries of Europe. In 1999, the EU introduces the ‘‘euro’’ as its common currency.

Early 1800s: In 1803, vast quantities of the North American continent are completely unknown to Americans.

Today: In the 1990s, the United States enters into a new phase of space exploration. The United States also sends an un-manned probe to Mars. In 1997, Pathfinder travels over the planet’s surface, collecting information and sending back images. In 1999, the United States launches another spacecraft headed for Mars.

Early 1800s: Very little about maintaining health and preventing disease is known. Aspirin has yet to be discovered although when Lewis gives his men the bark of willow for toothaches, he is essentially giving them aspirin. Another example is Lewis’ use of mercury as a cure for syphilis, which may have contributed to the early deaths.

Today: Medicine continues to make progress. Biological researchers who use genetic engineering to alter genes hope that such research offers potential cures to human genetic disorders and some diseases.

Early 1800s: Agriculture is the mainstay of the U.S. economy.

Today: In the late 1990s, high-tech industries have offered many new career paths. Some of the biggest growth is in the computer-related fields, which need computer engineers, computer support specialists, database administrators, and systems analysts.

Early 1800s: The only form of communication between people in distant locations is through the mail, which is slow and unreliable. Sending mail between the Atlantic Coast and the Mississippi River takes six weeks or longer.

Today: People communicate using a number of methods. Almost all houses have telephones, and a growing number of households have personal computers equipped with email programs. By 1998, as many as sixty million Americans use the Internet to obtain and share information.

Media Adaptations

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A sound recording of Undaunted Courage, abridged by Harold Schmidt, was published by Simon & Schuster Audio in 1996.

A video recording of Undaunted Courage was produced by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns. Duncan wrote the recording and Burns directed it. Turner Home Entertainment, 1997; available from PBS Home Video.

Ambrose maintains a web page at http://www.stephenambrose.com/ (March 2001), with personal and professional information and links to sites with more media information on Ambrose.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Sources Carlin, Peter, ‘‘Outward Bound,’’ in People Weekly, Vol. 46, No. 1, July 1, 1996, pp. 101–104.

Dahl, David S., Review in Region, December 1996, at http://woodrow.mpls.frb.fed.us/pubs/region/reg969h.html (last accessed March, 2001).

Harden, Blaine, ‘‘Where the Wild Things Are,’’ in Washington Post, February 11, 1996, p. X03.

Jones, Malcolm, Jr., Review in Newsweek, Vol. 127, No. 8, February 19, 1996, p. 70.

Miller, Roger, ‘‘Heading West with Meriwether Lewis,’’ http://www.bookpage.com/9602bp/nonfiction/undauntedcourage.html (1996).

‘‘Plotting a Continent with Bravery and Optimism,’’ in Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 1996, p. 15.

Pollack, Michael, ‘‘Lewis and Clark’s Trip to Manifest Destiny,’’ in New York Times November 23, 2000, p. G8.

Raymond, Steve, Review in Seattle Times, March 17, 1996, p. M2.

Review in Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1995.

Review in Publishers Weekly, Vol. 242, No. 49, December 4, 1995, p. 46.

Taylor, Gilbert, Review in Booklist, Vol. 92, No. 9–10, January 1, 1996, p. 780.

Walker, Dale L., Review in Wild West, Vol. 4, No. 4, December 1996, p. 74.

Weaver, Gregory, ‘‘Corps of Courage,’’ in Indianapolis Star, September 5, 2000, p. D01.

Wick, Daniel, ‘‘The Man Who Mapped the Louisiana Territory,’’ in San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 1996, p. 3.

Further Reading Allen, John Logan, Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest, Dover Publications, 1991. This re-issue of the 1975 book Passage Through the Garden deals with Lewis and Clark and the concept of North American geography at the time of the expedition.

Appelman, Roy, Historic Places Associated with Their Transcontinental Exploration, National Park Service, 1975. The first half of this book presents a historic overview of the expedition, and the second half talks about the sites along the trail as they exist today.

Dillon, Richard, Meriwether Lewis: A Biography, National Park Service, 1975. This is an early biography of Lewis.

Duncan, Dayton, Lewis and Clark: An Illustrated History, Knopf, 1997. This companion piece to the Ken Burns’ documentary Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery includes contributions by Ambrose and other noted writers.

Jackson, Donald, Thomas Jefferson and the Stony Mountains: Exploring the West from Monticello, University of Illinois Press, 1981. This book explores the expedition from Jefferson’s perspective.

Jones, Landon Y., The Essential Lewis and Clark, Ecco Press, 2000. This book is made up of excerpts from the 1904–1905 original journal publication of the Lewis and Clark journals.

Ronda, James P., Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, University of Nebraska Press, 1984. This book is considered the definitive work about the expedition’s relations with native peoples.

Steffen, Jerome O., William Clark: Jeffersonian Man on the Frontier, University of Oklahoma Press, 1977. This is a biography of Clark.


Critical Essays


Teaching Guide