In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson made one of the greatest land purchases in history. The French emperor Napoleon, in need of money to finance his military operations in Europe, offered to sell all French territory in North America for $15 million, or 3 cents an acre.
The Louisiana Purchase, which included the entire Mississippi River and its tributary rivers and streams, doubled the size of the United States. Jefferson, always curious about science and nature, wanted to know more about this largely unexplored territory.
What was the landscape? What animals and plants lived there? What kind of people inhabited the land and how did they live? To answer these questions, Jefferson organized an expedition and chose a close friend-29-year-old Meriwether Lewis, to lead it.
Lewis realized the importance and danger of the journey. He invited another friend, William Clark, to share command. These two explorers, Lewis and Clark, would spend more than two years and travel 8,000 miles in the most famous exploratory journey in U.S. history.
The Lewis and Clark expedition traveled on its stomach. In order to feed his 45 men for 24 hours, Lewis wrote that it required either four deer, an elk and a deer, or one buffalo.