Modern history


Preparing for the Expedition

January–June 1803

A week after Congress appropriated the funds for the expedition, Jefferson began writing his scientific friends. The message was the same in each case: the expedition has been authorized but is still confidential; I have chosen Captain Lewis to lead it; Lewis needs advice and instruction. The letters made it clear that Jefferson intended the recipients to provide advice and instruction without cost to the government.

Lewis’s schooling began during the period from New Year’s Day to the Ides of March. Lewis was still living in the President’s House, conferring with Jefferson as often and for as long as Jefferson’s schedule would allow. Beyond the conferences and the practical lessons in the use of the sextant and other measuring instruments, which took place on the lawn, Lewis studied maps in Jefferson’s collection.

He also conferred with Albert Gallatin, a serious map-collector. Gallatin had a special map made up for Lewis showing North America from the Pacific Coast to the Mississippi, with details on what was known of the Missouri River up to the Mandan villages in the Great Bend of the river (today’s Bismarck, North Dakota), and a few wild guesses as to what the Rockies might look like and the course of the Columbia. There were but three certain points on the map: the latitude and longitude of the mouth of the Columbia, of St. Louis, and of the Mandan villages (thanks to British fur traders).

By the time he finished studying with Jefferson and Gallatin, Lewis knew all that there was to know about the Missouri and what lay to the west of it.

The problem was that west of the Mandans nearly to the coast was terra incognita. And the best scientists in the world could not begin to fill in that map until someone had walked across the land, taking measurements, providing descriptions of the flora, fauna, rivers, mountains, and people, not failing to note the commercial and agricultural possibilities.

To make that journey required a frontiersman’s expert knowledge combined with an understanding of technology and what it could do to make the passage easier and more fruitful. That was the positive side of Jefferson’s choice of Lewis, who was in fact the perfect choice. Indeed, Lewis’s career might almost have been dedicated to preparing him for this adventure. He knew the Old Northwest about as well as any man in the country, he knew lonely forest trails through Indian country, he knew hunting and fishing and canoes, he knew how to keep records, had adequate mathematical skills, and for two years had been privy to Mr. Jefferson’s hopes and dreams, his curiosity and knowledge.

Jefferson told Patterson that Lewis had the required frontier skills, to which “he joins a great stock of accurateI observation on the subjects of the three kingdoms. . . . He has been for some time qualifying himself for taking observations of longitude & latitude to fix the geographical points of the line he will pass over.” But he needed help, and it was Patterson’s and the other scientists in Philadelphia’s privilege and—not stated but clearly implied—duty to supply that help. Of course they were all delighted to do so anyway.1

It was a favorite saying of one of President Jefferson’s twentieth-century successors, Dwight Eisenhower, that in war, before the battle is joined, plans are everything, but once the shooting begins, plans are worthless. The same aphorism can be said about exploration. In battle, what cannot be predicted is the enemy’s reaction; in exploration, what cannot be predicted is what is around the next bend in the river or on the other side of the hill. The planning process, therefore, is as much guesswork as it is intelligent forecasting of the physical needs of the expedition. It tends to be frustrating, because the planner carries with him a nagging sense that he is making some simple mistakes that could be easily corrected in the planning stage, but may cause a dead loss when the mistake is discovered midway through the voyage.

For this expedition, planning was going on at two levels. The president was working on the first draft of his instructions to Lewis. It was becoming a long, complex document, for Jefferson was making a list of the things he wanted to know about the West. Since there was so much he wanted to know, far more than a single expedition could answer, he had to make choices. There was no mention of looking for gold or silver in the draft Jefferson was circulating, for example, whereas soil conditions and climate were included. Trade possibilities were prominent.

Taken all together, the instructions represented a culmination and a triumph of the American Enlightenment. The expedition authorized by the popularly elected Congress would combine scientific, commercial, and agricultural concerns with geographical discovery and nation-building. All the pillars of Enlightenment thought, summed up with the phrase “useful knowledge,” were gathering in the instructions.

While Jefferson worked on the instructions, Lewis had his own planning to do. Jefferson would set the objectives, but it was Captain Lewis who would get the expedition there and back. The responsibility was his for deciding the size of the expedition, how it would proceed up the Missouri River, what it would need to cross the Rocky Mountains and descend the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean and return. The team would have to do this as a self-contained unit. Once the expedition left St. Louis, Lewis would be stuck with the decisions he had made during the planning process.


How many men? With what skills? How big a boat? What design? What type of rifle? How much powder and lead? How many cooking pots? What tools? How much dry or salted rations could be carried? What medicines, in what quantity? What scientific instruments? What books? How many fishing hooks? How much salt? Tobacco? Whiskey?

Lewis and Jefferson talked into the late evening about such questions. Jefferson thought it would be a good idea to carry some cast-iron corn mills to give the Indians as presents. Lewis agreed.2 They discussed the trade beads that were the currency of the western Indian tribes, and agreed that plenty would be needed. They made up lists of other items. Together, they concocted the idea of a collapsible iron-frame boat, one that could be carried past the falls of the Missouri, wherever that might be, and put together at the far end with animal skins to cover it, so that the expedition would be back in business on the water.

They talked about timing. Now that the appropriation was in hand, both men wanted to get started as soon as possible. With the coming of spring and the drying of the roads, Lewis wanted to be ready to go. He told Jefferson he hoped to be across the Appalachians by early summer. He intended to go to the post at South West Post, near present Kingston in eastern Tennessee, and there enlist his core group of soldier-explorers from the garrison. He planned to march them overland to Nashville, where he would pick up a previously ordered keelboat to float down the Cumberland River to its junction with the Ohio, not far above the Ohio’s junction with the Mississippi.

He planned to be in St. Louis by August 1 and thought he might be able to proceed a good bit of the way up the Missouri before being forced into winter camp. In 1804, he expected to cross the mountains, reach the Pacific, make the return journey, and report back before winter set in.3

Lewis and Jefferson talked through January and February and on into March, trying to imagine what the trip was going to be like, so that they could be certain of what would be needed.

But that was only the half of it. The other half involved preparing Lewis for the scientific observations he would be responsible for making. That meant study. Hard, intensive study in a variety of disciplines under a severe time pressure.

On the Ides of March, Lewis left Washington for Harpers Ferry, site of the U.S. Army’s arsenal. Lewis’s purpose was to obtain arms and ammunition for his party. He could select from existing stock or order items made special for the expedition by the arsenal’s craftsmen. He carried a letter to the superintendent of the arsenal from Secretary of War Dearborn: “You will be pleased to make such arms & Iron work, as requested by the bearer Captain Meriwether Lewis and to have them completed with the least possible delay.”4 When he had what was needed, he would arrange for it to be shipped to Pittsburgh, then hurry on to Philadelphia for more schooling and shopping.

At Harpers Ferry, he got fifteen muzzle-loading, flintlock, long-barreled rifles, sometimes called “Kentucky” but more properly “Pennsylvania rifles.” They were the sine qua non of the expedition. On them depended the food supply and self-defense.

They were absolutely dependable—the U.S. Model 1803, the first rifle specifically designed for the U.S. Army, .54-caliber, with a thirty-three-inch barrel. Lewis referred to these weapons as short rifles, for they were considerably shorter than the civilian Pennsylvania rifle. The Model 1803 delivered a lead slug on target with sufficient velocity to kill a deer at a range of about a hundred yards. An expert could get off two aimed shots in one minute.5 Lewis also selected pipe tomahawks and ordered the artisans at Harpers Ferry to make three dozen. He picked up fish gigs, knives, and so on.

Mainly, however, he supervised the construction of the iron boat frame. It was so important to him that he stayed on at Harpers Ferry for a month, instead of the week he had planned. This was cutting into the time Jefferson had wanted him to spend in Philadelphia.

On April 22, having heard nothing from Lewis since March 7, Jefferson learned in reports from others about Lewis’s delay at Harpers Ferry. With Lewis gone, the president needed a secretary. He had selected a young man, Lewis Harvie of Virginia, but had put off announcing the appointment for reasons he explained in a letter to Harvie. Jefferson had been living “in the daily expectation that the stage of the day would bring back Capt. Lewis, and that then within a few days he would set out on his Missisipi expedition.”

Jefferson also said that he had put off writing “because my great regard for Capt. Lewis made me unwilling to show a haste to fill his place before he was gone, & to counteract also a malignant & unfounded report that I was parting with him from dissatisfaction, a thing impossible either from his conduct or my dispositions towards him.”6

Washington will have its gossip. Jefferson was extremely sensitive to it. But far more important to him was Lewis’s delay. He was almost desperate because of it, but he subdued his feelings and wrote Lewis with some care in his word choices: “I have no doubt you have used every possible exertion to get off, and therefore we have only to lament what cannot be helped, as the delay of a month now may lose a year in the end.”7

Lewis might have read that as an expression of confidence, but on second reading wondered if it was a complaint. Most likely the former. In any case, he knew Jefferson would understand and would agree with his judgment on priorities. Jefferson’s letter of complaint crossed Lewis’s explanation for the delay, a frequent occurrence given the maddeningly slow mails.

Lewis described his activities. Besides arranging for the rifles, knives, and other equipment, he had written to the commander at South West Post to request help in getting suitable volunteers. The soldier volunteers could be promised their regular pay and a reward of land grants.

Lewis anticipated gathering his party as he made his way to St. Louis that summer, and strengthening it through personnel selection as the expedition proceeded, rejecting the weak, ignorant, and unmanageable for the strong, skilled, and eager volunteers. He told Jefferson he intended to be ruthless about it.

He had written to a congressman from Tennessee requesting that he find a boatbuilder in Nashville who could make a boat and a canoe for the expedition. These and other matters took longer than he had expected.

But by far the biggest cause of delay was Lewis’s experimenting with the boat he and Jefferson had dreamed up. Every day he was at the work site, because he was convinced that without his personal attention the workmen would never understand the design. He carried out some sophisticated experiments with two different designs, one curved, the other “simicilindrical,” the former for the stem and stern, the latter for the body of the boat. He triumphantly reported to Jefferson that the frame would weigh only forty-four pounds, whereas the boat when covered with hide would carry 1,770 pounds. Lewis told Jefferson, “I was induced from the result of this experiment to direct the iron frame of the canoe to be completed.”8

He had made his first important independent decisions: where to spend his fast-disappearing time, and what boat to build. This was the beginning of a new relationship with Jefferson. Though Lewis was not yet quite out of the reach of the president’s communiqués, he was not far short of it—witness his decision to stay three extra weeks at Harpers Ferry despite his knowledge that Jefferson desperately wanted him to get to Philadelphia to study, and then get on the road.

In mid-April, Lewis set off to the east. He stopped first in Frederickstown, where on April 15 he wrote General William Irvin, superintendent of military stores, with headquarters in Philadelphia. Lewis said he wanted Irvin to purchase for him some necessary articles. First on the list was “Portable-Soup,” a dried soup of various beans and vegetables that Lewis may have used during his travels as an army paymaster. In any case, he was enthusiastic about it. He told Irvin, “Portable Soup, in my opinion, forms one of the most essential articles in the preparation [for the expedition], and fearing that it cannot be procured readily in such quantity as is requisite, I . . . take the liberty to request that you will procure two hundred pounds of it for me,” or however much was available on the market. “I have supposed that the soup would cost about one dollar pr lb; should it however, come much higher then quantity must be limited by the sum of $250 as more cannot be expended.”9 In the end, Lewis spent $289.50 on 193 pounds of portable soup, by far the highest sum for any area of provisions. He spent as much for dried soup as he had originally estimated for his instruments, arms, and ammunition.10

On April 19, Lewis arrived in Lancaster. He went immediately to the home of Andrew Ellicott, America’s leading astronomer and mathematician. Jefferson had earlier written Ellicott to ask him to teach Lewis to make celestial observations, and Ellicott had replied, “Mr. Lewis’s first object must be to acquire a facility, and dexterity, in making the observations; which can only be obtained by practice.”

Lewis and Ellicott wasted no time; on April 20, Lewis reported to Jefferson, “I have commenced, under his direction, my observations &c to perfect myself in the use and application of the instruments.” He found Ellicott to be “extreemly friendly and attentive, and I am confident is disposed to render me every aid in his power: he thinks it will be necessary I should remain here ten or twelve days.”11

While at Lancaster, Lewis picked up additional rifles. How many is not known, nor why he couldn’t get all he wanted at Harpers Ferry. They may have been improved models, since Lancaster was the manufacturing center for long rifles. But his list of necessary items, and of quantities required, continued to grow, indicating that at Harpers Ferry he had decided the expedition had to be a party considerably larger than a dozen men.

Another thought had come into his head: that another officer would be required. No evidence exists as to when, or even if, he discussed either of these critical matters with Jefferson, but how could he have failed to do so?

Lewis’s schooling in Lancaster in the use of sextant, chronometer, and other instruments took longer than Ellicott had anticipated. Not until May 7 was he ready to go to Philadelphia. The ride from Lancaster to Philadelphia took him over the most modern highway in America, completed in 1795, made of broken-stone, the country’s first gravel road. Stage wagons were able to average five to seven miles per hour on it.12 Going that fast in a stage was a new experience for Lewis.

In Philadelphia, he went to Patterson, who continued his instruction. With Patterson’s help, he selected a chronometer. He bought it from Thomas Parker, a clock- and watchmaker on South Third Street, for $250, by far the largest sum expended for any single item carried on the expedition. Lewis sent it to Ellicott to be regulated, with this note: “I have at length been enabled to procure a Chronometer which you will receive . . . and you will also receive with her a screw-driver and kee, the inner cases of the Chronometer are confined by a screw. She is wound up and the works are stoped by inscerting a hog’s bristle which you will discover by examination. She has been cleaned by Mr. Voit, and her rate of going ascertained by observation to be 14” too slow in 24 h.”13

Jefferson sent Lewis a current draft of his instructions, asking Lewis to comment, and to circulate the draft among the various savants in Philadelphia, for their comments and suggestions. Lewis worried about a phrase in the draft that indicated that the scientific instruments had already been provided. By whom? he wondered. What were they? He asked Jefferson for a list, so that he could consult with Patterson and Ellicott to make certain nothing had been omitted. He further informed Jefferson that his teachers “both disapprove of the Theodolite,” which Jefferson had told Lewis would be his best instrument for accurate measurements. It was “a delicate instrument, difficult of transportation, and one that would be very liable to get out of order,” and anyway it was “much more inacurate than the Sextant.”

His teachers agreed on what instruments would be “indispensably necessary.” They were “two Sextants, an artificial horizon or two; a good Arnold’s watch or chronometer, a Surveyor’s compass with a ball and socket and two pole chain, and a set of plotting instruments.”14

There was just a hint of a reminder in the letter that the decision-making power for the expedition was coming into Lewis’s hands. Jefferson acknowledged as much in his reply, regretting “the impression which has been misunderstood.” The draft Lewis had of the instructions would not be dated until the day he departed; Jefferson had assumed that by then Lewis would have made his selections and purchases. As to the theodolite, Jefferson told Lewis to do whatever Patterson and Ellicott recommended.15

Lewis was in Philadelphia through much of May and the first week in June. He made the rounds of the city, the list he and Jefferson had drawn up in hand, making purchases: fishing tackle, lead canisters, medicines, dry goods, tobacco, shirts. He spent $2,324.

Herewith a sampling of the items he purchased: six papers of ink powder; sets of pencils; “Creyons”; two hundred pounds of “best rifle powder,” and four hundred pounds of lead; “4 Groce fishing Hooks assorted”; twenty-five axes; woolen overalls and other clothing items, including “30 yds. Common flannel”; one hundred flints; “30 Steels for striking or making fire”; six large needles and six dozen large awls; three bushels of salt.

He bought oilskin bags to protect the instruments and journals. He got mosquito netting and field tables, and large, multipurpose sheets of oiled linen, each eight by twelve feet, for tents, and candles, so that he could write at night. The sheets of oiled linen could double up as sails by day.

For Indian presents, five pounds of “white Glass Beads mostly small,” and twenty pounds of red assorted beads; 144 “small cheap Scizors”; “288 Common brass thimbles”; ten pounds of assorted sewing thread; silk; paint and vermilion; 288 knives; combs; arm bands; and ear trinkets. Lewis insisted on taking a preponderance of blue beads, because they were “far more valued than the white beads of the same manufacture and answer all the purposes of money.” The emphasis was on the gay and gaudy rather than the useful. Although Lewis called them presents, they were trade goods. He did not intend to give them away; rather, he would use them to purchase goods and services from the Indians.

Lewis and Clark scholar Paul Russell Cutright writes, “It was no small task to anticipate all that he would need in the way of arms, food, clothing, camping paraphernalia, scientific instruments, and Indian presents for a party of still undetermined size that, for an indefinite period of time, would be out of touch with normal supply sources.”16

How well he had done, only the event could tell. One small peek ahead is appropriate here, however, because it reveals so much about Lewis and the point of view he held. During the expedition, the party ran out of many useful or pleasure-giving items, including tobacco, whiskey, salt, and blue beads. A frontiersman could live without those things. The expedition ran short of, but never out of, many critical items. But when it got home, the expedition had sufficient powder and lead to repeat the journey, and plenty of rifles. (Lewis had arranged at Harpers Ferry for lead canisters that when melted down made exactly the right number of balls for the amount of powder in the canister.)

Lewis had the frontiersman’s faith in his rifle. As long as a man had his rifle, ammunition, and powder, he would take on anything the wilderness could throw at him.

Lewis also had plenty of ink left when he got home, enough for another voyage. That ink wasn’t critical to making the trip, but it was critical to making the expedition a success by recording its findings. Lewis had his priorities right.

The purchase of the soup was a serious cost overrun. Along with the extra rifles he purchased in Lancaster, the amount indicates that, the more he thought about what he might encounter, the larger the size of the party was becoming in his imagination. The amounts of medicine he purchased also indicate he now planned to take many more than a dozen men.

His medical adviser was Dr. Benjamin Rush, a member of the American Philosophical Society, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the most eminent American physician of the day. On May 17, Lewis called on him at his home on the corner of Walnut and Fourth Streets, bringing along Jefferson’s draft instructions for Rush’s comments.

They talked. Rush gave advice, beginning with: “When you feel the least indisposition, do not attempt to overcome it by labour or marching. Rest in a horizontal posture. Also fasting and diluting drinks for a day or two will generally prevent an attack of fever. To these preventatives of disease may be added a gentle sweat obtained by warm drinks, or gently opening the bowels by means of one, two, or more of the purging pills.”

Those pills were under Dr. Rush’s patent, known as “Rush’s pills” but generally referred to as “Thunderclappers.” As far as Rush was concerned, they were sovereign for nearly all mankind’s ills. They were composed of calomel, a mixture of six parts mercury to one part chlorine, and jalap. Each drug was a purgative of explosive power; the combination was awesome. Mercury had an even more important role in Lewis’s pharmacy: it was the treatment of choice for syphilis (and remained so until the advent of penicillin during World War II).

Another piece of advice from Dr. Rush: “After long marches, or much fatigue from any cause, you will be more refreshed by lying down in a horizontal posture for two hours, than by resting a much longer time in any other position of the body.”17 There is no evidence of Lewis’s asking the good doctor what he thought they would be encountering out there.

Lewis reported to Jefferson, “Dr. Rush has favored me with some abstract queries under the several heads of Physical History, medicine, Morals and Religeon of the Indians, which I have no doubt will be servicable in directing my inquiries among that people.”

Rush’s questionnaire asked about the diseases of the Indians, and their “remidies,” at what age menstruation began and ended, the age of marriage, how long they suckled their children, the state of the pulse in the morning, at noon, and at night, before and after eating. At what time did they rise? What about baths? Murder? Suicide? “Do they employ any substitute for ardent spirits to promote intoxication?” Any animal sacrifices in their religion? “What Affinity between their religious Ceremonies & those of the Jews?” (Here Rush was looking for the fabled Lost Tribe of Israel.) More realistically, “How do they dispose of their dead, and with what Ceremonies do they inter them?”18

It was an eclectic list of questions, some silly, some stunningly on the mark. They illustrated how little could even be guessed about the nature of the Indian tribes of the West, or their numbers.

In addition to the questionnaire, Rush prepared a medical list for Lewis. Amounting to $90.69 for drugs, lancets, forceps, syringes, and other supplies, it included fifty dozen (!) Rush’s Pills along with thirty other kinds of drugs. Those most used were Peruvian bark, jalap, opium, Glauber salts, niter (i.e., potassium nitrate, or saltpeter), tartar emetic, laudanum, calomel, and mercurial ointment. The drugs Lewis bought contained thirteen hundred doses of physic, eleven hundred of emetic, thirty-five hundred of diaphoretic (sweat inducer), and more, including drugs for blistering, salivation, and increased kidney output, along with tourniquets and clyster syringes.

While at Harpers Ferry, Lewis had thought of bringing a doctor along, but by May he evidently had decided he himself would be the doctor. He had learned from his mother a great deal about herbs and simples and herb therapy, and wasn’t afraid to experiment. Like all frontiersmen, he knew how to set a broken bone or remove an embedded bullet or arrow, how to cope with croup or dysentery.

Rush was impressed by Lewis. He wrote Jefferson, “His mission is truly interesting. I shall wait with great solicitude for its issue. Mr. Lewis appears admirably qualified for it. May its advantages prove no less honorable to your administration than to the interests of science.”19

It wasn’t all work. Lewis did a considerable amount of socializing in Philadelphia with his friend Mahlon Dickerson. They moved in the highest social circles: dinner one evening with Jefferson’s great friend Dr. George Logan; another evening with Governor Thomas McKean at his mansion on the northeast corner of Third and Pine Streets.20

By day, Lewis expanded his studies. He went to Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the first textbook on botany in the United States, just published when Lewis came to him. Barton lived a few steps from Independence Hall, at 44 North Fifth Street. He had studied in England and Germany, and he had made fairly extensive field trips in Pennsylvania. He was mesmerized by the expedition. The thought of all that was waiting to be discovered tempted him so much that he talked with Lewis about the possibility of going along. Lewis was enthusiastic about the idea; Barton would certainly be an asset in collecting and describing. But he was thirty-seven years old, a scholar, not a soldier. “I fear the Dr. will not carry this design into effect” Lewis told Jefferson—rightly, as it turned out.21

Still, Barton made important contributions. He taught Lewis how to preserve specimens, either plant or bird- or animal-skin. He taught Lewis the importance of specimen labels, including place and date of collection. Barton expanded Lewis’s vocabulary and range of knowledge. In a painstaking study on the scientific writing of Lewis, Elijah Criswell compiled a list of almost two hundred different technical terms the captain employed in describing new plants and animals, a quantity showing, in Criswell’s words, “a remarkable knowledge for an amateur, of scientific, especially botanical, descriptive terminology.”22

Dr. Caspar Wistar was the last of the Philadelphia savants Lewis turned to for education. Wistar held the chair of anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania and had published the first American textbook on anatomy. He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society and the foremost authority on fossils in America. He talked with Lewis about that anomalous beast the Megalonyx, which he and Jefferson had discovered, and about the mastodons he and Jefferson believed might still inhabit the prairies.23

One last thing Lewis got in Philadelphia—his traveling library. It included Barton’s Elements of Botany, which was not a gift—Lewis paid six dollars for it. Lewis borrowed a book from Barton, Antoine Simor Le Page du Pratz’s History of Louisiana. He had Richard Kirwan’s Elements of Mineralogy (London, 1784), a two-volume edition of Linnaeus (the founder of the system of Latin classification of plants), and a four-volume dictionary, along with A Practical Introduction to Spherics and Nautical Astronomy and The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris,together with tables necessary to finding latitude and longitude.24

On May 29, Lewis sent a long-overdue report to Jefferson. He announced that on June 6 or 7 he would be able to depart for Washington for a final conference, then would be off. He would have all his preparations completed in a day or two, but wanted to stay on an extra few days for additional study with Patterson. He enclosed some tracings he had made of Vancouver’s map of the northwestern coast. He explained why a tracing rather than the original: “The maps attached to Vancouver’s voyage cannot be procured seperately from that work, which is both too costly, and too weighty, for me either to purchase or carry.”25

Geographer John Logan Allen points out that it took considerable cartographic technique to copy the charts from Vancouver’s work. Lewis, Allen writes, “was not simply a passive receptor of the geographical materials being assembled by Jefferson and Gallatin. It seems, rather, that he was active in gathering data for the purpose of taking it along on the expedition.” Dr. Allen further speculates, on the basis of internal evidence, that Lewis made a copy of the David Thompson map of the Great Bend of the Missouri River, done late in the last century and in the possession of the British chargé d’affaires in Washington.26

During the second week in June, Lewis abandoned his original plan to go by South West Post. He had heard there were too few good men in the garrison, and that no boat would be waiting in Nashville. So he arranged transportation by the army, at the army’s expense, for thirty-five hundred pounds of goods to be moved from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Because the “road which from necessaty they must travel is by no means good,” Lewis ordered a five-horse team to pull the wagon.27 Apparently it was also at this time that he entered into a contract with a boatbuilder in Pittsburgh.

Then he set off for Washington. Probably foremost in Lewis’s mind was the size of the party, along with an inevitable need for a second officer. None had been mentioned, but Lewis wanted one. If Jefferson approved, Lewis had a candidate in mind, as well as a highly unusual command arrangement. The president and the captain also needed to go over the final instructions in detail. Jefferson needed to bring Lewis up-to-date on the status of the proposed purchase of New Orleans. The two men had a lot to talk about before Lewis headed west.

I. Initially, Jefferson used the word “scientific” here, but crossed it out and substituted “accurate.”

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