Wednesday, December 20, 2006

On this date in 1803...

we totally ripped off Napoleon.

Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase garnering the US 828,000 square miles for just over 23 million dollars (including interest). This was very controversial at the time, but I think that we can now agree that it was worth the money-- especially to make the French further kick themselves in hindsight. (Perhaps all this hindsight kicking is why the French only work like 10 hours a week. Also this may explain mimes.) Though I say this was a good deal, I am not entirely certain of the monetary value of Oklahoma, but I guess it came in handy later.

This of course brings me to the Lewis & Clark Expedition. The LCE didn't actually come about because of the purchase, it was already planned (because Jefferson was a sneaky bastard); however Jefferson was eager to see what he got for his 15 million dollar debt. (Hey Kansas.)

Captain Meriwether Lewis was chosen by Jefferson to lead the expedition and he, in turn, chose William Clark to co-head the Corps of Discovery (as it was called). Being an American, Lewis decided to bring his dog, a Newfoundland named (and I am not making this up) Seaman. Being a Southerner, Clark brought York, a slave whom he had inherited from his father. Along the way they picked up a chick, Sacajawea.

Three years after the Expedition Lewis died of a gunshot wound to the chest in some sleazy bar, after threatening to jump off a bridge. Clark became an administrator of Indian Affairs and spent the majority of his post-Corps time subjugating the natives and played a roll in the Trail of Tears. After their return, York asked Clark to free him. Clark was ticked about York's cheek and rented him out to hard labor. York died of cholera whilst traveling to re-join Clark. Five years after the expedition Sacajawea died of "the putrid fever." Seaman never made it home.

Seaman and York share a statue at Quality Hill, in Kansas City, Missouri. Sacajawea has an elementary school in Richland, Washington named after her (go trailblazers!). Lewis' memorial is along the Natchez Trace Parkway which links Mississippi and Arkansas. Clark has a trout named after him.

And that is about as much as anyone needs to know about the Corps of Discovery.

1 comment:

PalinDrome said...

You forgot to mention that Lewis and Clark have a Junior High School named after them in Billings Montana. I even have the yearbooks to prove it.