An indispensable guide to our nation's epic adventure
The years 2003-2006 mark the bicentennial of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's famous transcontinental journey between the Missouri and the Columbia River systems. They never did find the fabled Northwest Passage, but over twenty-eight months, the Corps of Discovery traveled more than eight thousand miles through eleven future states, named scores of places and rivers, met with many Native American tribes, and wrote the first descriptions of heretofore unknown plants and animals. By the end of their trip, Lewis and Clark had navigated and named two thirds of the American continent.
They may have had undaunted courage, but the sheer volume of information related to their expedition can be more than a little daunting to the armchair historian. Written by two highly regarded Lewis and Clark experts, this book contains over five hundred lively and fascinating entries on everything from the members of the expedition and the places they went to the weapons and tools, trade goods, and medicines they carried, along with the food and amusements that sustained them. Highly readable and informative, it's the perfect introduction for the Lewis and Clark novice, and the comprehensive guide no buff will want to be without.
"This handy volume, timed for publication as the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition opens, has the virtue of teaching the student while helpfully reminding the scholar. " - Publishers Weekly
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About the Author
Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs is a veteran traveler on the Lewis and Clark trail and was an assistant researcher on her father's three-volume biography of Nixon. She writes about Montana history and serves on the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center's Foundation board. She lives in Helena, Montana.
Clay Jenkinson is a nationally respected Jefferson scholar whose previous books include The Paradox of Thomas Jefferson and Message on the Wind. He is scholar in residence at Lewis and Clark College and a senior fellow of the Center for Digital Government. He lives in Reno, Nevada.
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The Lewis and Clark Companion
An Encyclopedic Guide to the Voyage of Discovery
By Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs, Clay Straus Jenkinson
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2003 Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs and Clay Straus Jenkinson
All rights reserved.
Air gun: A weapon resembling a flintlock rifle that used compressed air to fire its .31-caliber bullet, therefore not issuing smoke or a loud repercussion when discharged. Lewis purchased an air gun in Pennsylvania in 1803, probably from the Philadelphia gunsmith and horologist Isaiah Lukens. Although not reliable as a hunting weapon, the air gun served as an impressive tool in what historian James Ronda called "the Lewis and Clark traveling medicine show," which included items demonstrating the power of magnetism and a spyglass, compass, watch, and burning glass. On one of its first public displays near Pittsburgh, it was inadvertently discharged by Mr. Blaze Cenas, slightly wounding a bystander nearby. Throughout the journals when Lewis mentions the air gun it is usually "astonishing" or "very much surprising the Indians." After meeting up with the Shoshone and putting on the usual display of his authority and power, Lewis writes, "I also shot my air-gun which was so perfectly incomprehensible that they immediately denominated it the great medicine ... or that in which the power of god is manifest by it's incomprehensible power of action." Several repairs were needed to keep the air gun in working order. John Shields fixed it on June 9, 1805, and Lewis repaired the sights on August 7, 1805. The weapon was used in April 1806 to intimidate the Clackamahas, who were "orderly and kept at a proper distance" after witnessing the gun discharge. Lewis had the gun at the ready after he was wounded by Cruzatte on the return journey and imagined Indians to be his pursuers, "being determined as a retreat was impracticable to sell my life as deerly as possible." The air gun was returned to Lukens after Lewis's death in 1809. Upon the death, in 1846, of the gunsmith, the air gun was sold at auction the following year.
References: Moulton, vols. 5, 7, 8; Russell; Chatters; Beeman
Allen, Paul (1775–1826): Philadelphia journalist. Employed by publishers Bradford and Inskeep at the suggestion of his fellow Port Folio writer Nicholas Biddle to finish editing duties on his two-volume History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis and Clark. According to Biddle's instructions Allen was to "take the rude outline as I had left it, add from the original journals whatever had been omitted in the first rapid sketch — mould the whole as he thought best and superintend the publication." Allen received payment of $500 and his name, not Biddle's, appeared on the title page when it was published in 1814. Biddle likely insisted on remaining anonymous because he considered himself too much of a gentleman to garner wages and publicity. Although the true scope of Allen's contribution to the journals remains undetermined, he is credited with extracting a memoir of Lewis from Thomas Jefferson because he wished to "enliven the dulness of the Narrative by something more popular splendid & attractive." Historian Donald Jackson theorized Biddle left much work to be done while another editor of the journals, Rueben Thwaites, considered the Allen effort "typographical and clerical."
References: Large, "History's Two Nicholas Biddles"; Jackson, Letters ; Thwaites, Original Journals , vol. 1; Cutright, History of the Lewis and Clark Journals ; Johnson and Malone
American Philosophical Society: Founded in Philadelphia in 1743 — the same year that Jefferson was born — by Benjamin Franklin, who based his idea on the model of the Royal Society of London. Members came from Europe as well as from the American colonies and included the most prominent minds in the practical sciences. Thomas Jefferson was a member for forty-seven years and president of the society from 1797 to 1815. He responded to his election calling it "the most flattering incident of my life, and that to which I am most sensible. [I have] no qualification for this distinguished Post, but an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind, that it may at length reach the extremes of Society, beggars and kings. ..." In 1793 the society established a fund to send botanist André Michaux in search of the Northwest Passage, but that plan fell through. It was postponed for ten years, until Jefferson approached his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to head the expedition. In preparation for the trip, Jefferson sent Lewis to Philadelphia to receive instruction from several of the society's outstanding members. These included physician and botanist Benjamin Barton, naturalist and professor of anatomy Caspar Wistar, mathematician Andrew Ellicott, and physician Benjamin Rush. When Jefferson gave Lewis his list of instructions, he was reflecting, according to historian Carol Lynn MacGregor, "his desire to accumulate as much knowledge as possible for the practical purposes of commerce, science, and national interests. His methodology mirrors that of the American Philosophical Society, and, in fact, they are one in this endeavor. Jefferson deposited all of the Lewis and Clark journals at his disposal in the archives of the American Philosophical Society where they remain."
Reference: MacGregor, "American Philosophical Society"
Arrowsmith, Aaron (1750–1823): British cartographer who produced a map of North America in 1795 based on the accounts of North West Company explorers Peter Fidler, Samuel Hearne, Alexander Mackenzie, and George Vancouver. The map shows the Missouri unconnected to the "Stony Mountains" or the Mississippi and includes a note indicating the elevation of the mountains, which according to Fidler's Indian informant, The Feathers, was "five ridges in some parts." In 1802 Arrowsmith revised the map showing the mountains near the southern source of the Missouri with another note explaining they divided into "several low ridges." The Arrowsmith map implied an easy crossing of the Rocky Mountains and the close proximity of the Pacific Ocean. Cartographer Nicholas King used both Arrowsmith maps for his chart of the country to be explored by Lewis and Clark. The captains also carried a copy of the 1802 Arrowsmith map with them on their journey and it was the most influential one used in directing the Corps of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean.
Au-ho-ne-ga (Au-ho-ning-ga): One of the chiefs and principal men of the Otos and Missouris "made" by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on August 3, 1804, at Council Bluff.
Ba Za conja: One of the chiefs and principal men of the Otos and Missouris designated by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on August 3, 1804, at Council Bluffs.
Baillet, François: The Philadelphia cook who supplied Meriwether Lewis with 193 pounds of portable soup at a cost of $289.50.
Reference: Moulton, vol. 5
Barton, Benjamin Smith (1766–1815): Philadelphia physician, naturalist, botany professor, and author of the first American textbook on botany, Elements of Botany (1803), which Meriwether Lewis purchased in preparation for his trip west. Thomas Jefferson requested that, while Lewis was in Philadelphia, Professor Barton advise him on the subjects of botany, zoology, and Indian history. Barton complied and also loaned Lewis his copy of DuPratz's History of Louisiana. When he returned the book to Barton in May of 1807, Lewis inscribed the book with the following notation: "Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton was so obliging as to lend me this copy of Mons. Du Pratz's history of Louisiana in June 1803. it has been since conveyed by me to the Pacific Ocean through the interior of the Continent of North America on my late tour thither and is now returned to its proprietor by his Friend and Obt. Servt. Meriwether Lewis Philadelphia, May 9th, 1807." The book is owned by the Library Company of Philadelphia and is considered, as Cutright states, "a unique and priceless volume deeply imbued with the colors of American history." Barton was to write the natural history section for the Biddle edition of the journals but poor health forced him to abandon his plans. In a letter to Jefferson in October 1810, Barton wrote, "In regard to Mr. Lewis's papers, I assure you, and I beg you, Sir, to assure his friends, that they will be taken good care of; that it is my sincere wish to turn them as much as I can, to his honour & reputation; and that they shall ultimately be deposited, in good order, in the hands of General Clark, or those of Mr. Conrad, the publisher." He finished the letter with the promise, "I cherish with respect, the memory of your friend; and believe me, Sir, the manner in which you speak of him, in your letter, will act not feebly in making me careful of his fame. His fate was, indeed, melancholy and unhappy: but similar has sometimes been the fate of the best and wisest of men."
References: Cutright, "Lewis and Clark and Du Pratz"; Jackson, Letters
Beacon Rock: Landmark and geological feature on the Washington side of the Columbia River measuring 900 feet, the "lava monolith" was sighted and mentioned in the journals on November 2, 1805. The Wahclellah Indians inhabited a village below the rock on the starboard side.
Reference: Moulton, vol. 7
Beaver (Castor canadensis): Most valuable trade good on the nineteenth-century frontier, used for hats, coats, muffs, robes, collars, and linings; sold in Europe and the eastern United States. First trapped by the expedition at the mouth of the Kansas River, the size and number of beaver increased as they proceeded to the Rockies. Even before they returned, Lewis and Clark's reports of large populations of beaver in the newly acquired lands of the Louisiana Purchase spurred western exploration and settlement and continued to do so for the next forty years. Indians traditionally used beaver for food and fur, but their harvest methods did not deplete the population until whites came and the value of beaver pelts increased dramatically. Beaver populations declined after 1840. According to Lamar's New Encyclopedia of the American West, between 1800 and 1850, one hundred thousand to five hundred thousand beaver pelts were taken per year. The average weight of a mature beaver is thirty-five to fifty pounds. When the fur trade started, trappers could count on four dollars per pound. Fur trade historian Hiram Chittenden wrote that the tributaries of the Missouri were "as rich as if sands of gold covered the bottoms." Natural enemies to the beaver include otter, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats. Beaver require large bodies of water to thrive. They build large dams and dig canals fortified by the many trees they bring down with their sharp teeth. Beaver dams and canals can vary from a few yards to a hundred yards long, although The New Encyclopedia of the American West states a beaver dam in Montana once measured two thousand feet long. In addition to using trees for building material, beaver also eat willow, aspen, cottonwood, and white birch. The beaver's scientific name, Castor canadensis, refers to a yellow waxy material produced by its perineal gland (also known as bark stones, according to Clark), which the beaver uses to keep its fur waterproof and most likely to mark its territory. The animal is a herbivore and does not hibernate. They are mainly nocturnal and usually live fifteen to sixteen years. To signal an alarm, the beaver strikes its tail on the water, which produces a loud slapping sound. Beaver can stay submerged up to fifteen minutes before resurfacing. Young beaver stay with their parents for two years and serve as assistants in building and repairing the dams. A beaver once interfered with communication between the captains at Three Forks by taking a bush or branch that held a note from Lewis to Clark. In another incident Lewis's dog was almost killed when a beaver bit him on the leg and nearly severed an artery. Lewis particularly liked the "tale and liver" and found the beaver "a delacacy ... I think the tale a most delicious morsal, when boiled it resembles in flavor the fresh tongues and sounds of the codfish and is usually sufficiently large enough to afford a plentifull meal for two men." See Castorium.
References: Chittenden, vol. 2; Lamar; Moulton, vol. 4
Beaver's Head Rock (Beaverhead Rock): Located in Madison County, near present-day Twin Bridges and Dillon, Montana. On August 8, 1805, Lewis recorded, "the Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation on a river beyond the river which runs to the west. this hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived remblance of its figure to the head of that animal." The captain described it as a "steep rocky clift of 150 feet high near the Stard. side of the river." The reddish brown rock resembles a beaver's head when viewed from the north; it faces west. According to Alt and Hyndman in Roadside Geology of Montana, it is "andesite (a common rock of large volcanos), of unknown age."
References: Moulton, vol. 5; Alt and Hyndman
Beeswax: Used in combination with buffalo tallow and charcoal to seal the stitches of the hides used to cover the iron boat. But "the stitches begin to gape very much since she has began to dry; I am now convinced this would not have been the case had the skins been sewed with a sharp point only." Beeswax was used as part of a poultice given by Captain Clark to treat an abscess on Jean Baptiste's neck in June 1805. On March 9, 1806, Ordway mentions Clatsop Indians bringing "bears wax" to trade. Whitehouse mentions it correctly spelling it "bees wax" in his entry for the same day. While exploring the Columbia River in 1813, Alexander Henry noted, "Great quantities of beeswax continue to be dug out of the sand near this spot and the Indians bring it to trade with us." The Spanish galleon San Francisco Xavier, lost at sea near Nehalem Spit in 1705, is the likely source of the beeswax, which can still be found today and has been, according to Ruth and Emory Strong, radiocarbon dated to between 1485 and 1655.
References: Moulton, vols. 4, 11; Strong and Strong; Wood and Thiessen
Benoit, Francis Marie (1768–1819): Fur trader with the Osage, Oto, and Pawnee Indians before the Louisiana Purchase and partner of Manuel Lisa. Benoit, or "Mr. B," incurred the wrath of Meriwether Lewis in the winter of 1803 and the following spring. As he wrote Clark, "Damn Manuel and triply Damn Mr. B. They give me more vexation and trouble than their lives are worth. I have dealt very plainly with these gentlemen, in short have come to an open rupture with them; I think them both great scoundrels, and they have given me abundant proofs of their unfriendly dispositions towards our government and it's measures. These
Reference: Jackson, Letters
Bezoar (hair ball): One of the items sent back to Jefferson with Pierre Chouteau and the Osage Indians. Included in the list of articles fowarded to Jefferson along with a rock crystal, a horned lizard from the Osage plains, and a map of the Mississippi from the mouth of the Missouri to New Orleans. It was described as a "specimen of salt formed by concretion, procured at the great Saline of the Osage nation." Cutright defines it as a concretion of hair, often entangling undigested food particles, in stomachs of mammals prone to swallowing hair. Some tribes used it as an antidote to poisons.
References: Thwaites, Original Journals vol. 1; Cutright, Pioneering Naturalists
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Table of Contents
Foreword, BY STEPHEN E. AMBROSE,
Appendix I: List of Indian Presents Carried by the Corps,
Appendix II: Some of the Tribes Visited by Lewis and Clark,
About the Authors,