01 a precision tool to measure the world narrator



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01 A precision tool to measure the world

NARRATOR

(string quartet music)

Clockwork, with its precision and predictability, was the guiding metaphor of the age of Enlightenment, which deeply influenced Thomas Jefferson. European intellectuals of the late 18th century thought of the universe as a perfect mechanism set in motion by God. Nature’s laws seemed so regular and reasonable that only rational inquiry and empirical observation were needed to discover them. For Jefferson this was an inspiration to guide his expedition:
JEFFERSON

(Virginia accent)


A patient pursuit of facts, and a cautious
combination and comparison of them, is the
drudgery to which man is subjected by his Maker,
if he wishes to attain sure knowledge.

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02 Books: Models of Enlightenment exploration

NARRATOR

Jefferson’s model for the Lewis and Clark expedition was the sober, scientific style of Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy, whose report on America’s Pacific coast is shown on the far left. Britain had set the standard for authoritative investigation of the unknown by sending naturalists and artists around the globe to classify, describe, and portray the diversity of animals, plants, and people they encountered.

Jefferson’s concern that Britain knew more about North America than the United States did led to the expedition. The British had already been where Lewis and Clark were going. Captain George Vancouver, whose book is shown on the far right, had mapped the Pacific coast, and Jonathan Carver’s London-published travel book was the main source of knowledge on Plains Indians. Most alarming to Jefferson, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, a Scottish fur trader, had crossed the continent by land in Canada.

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03 Mammoths in America?

NARRATOR

In 1803 Jefferson wrote to a French scientist about the purposes of the voyage. The president believed that Lewis might encounter living animals whose existence was known up to then only through their bones:


JEFFERSON

Such is the economy of nature, that no instance can be produced, of her having permitted any one race of her animals to become extinct; of her having formed any link in her great work so weak as to be broken.

It is not improbable that this voyage of discovery will procure us further information of the Mammoth, & of the Megatherium also. There are symptoms of it’s late and present existence…
NARRATOR

When Lewis failed to encounter mammoths, Jefferson’s interest did not disappear. In 1807 he paid for Clark to oversee an excavation at Kentucky’s Big Bone Lick. Shown here is one of over three hundred fossils Clark unearthed. Jefferson sent some of Clark’s specimens to the National Institute of France for study by leading researchers. This led to the discovery that the mastodon and the mammoth were two distinct species.



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04 Geographies of the Mind

NARRATOR

What Jefferson knew about the West was based on a little information and a lot of wishful thinking.

One expectation shown on this map is the Northwest Passage – a water route across North America. Geographers had believed in it for three centuries. First they imagined a sea route, then an inland lake, and finally a pair of rivers that connected by a portage over a low ridge of land. This map shows the Missouri and Columbia rivers connecting where the Rockies ought to be, fulfilling Jefferson’s prediction:
JEFFERSON

The Missouri, traversing a moderate climate, offer[s] . . . a continued navigation from it’s source, and, possibly with a single portage, from the Western Ocean.



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05 Missing Mountains

NARRATOR

Aaron Arrowsmith’s map was the most accurate of its day and showed many things correctly. The width of the continent was known from the longitude measurements of explorers on the West Coast. The geography of Canada was correct, thanks to the efforts of British fur traders. But south of that border lay a blank space that spawned a major misconception: that the Rocky Mountains were a single line of low ridges that petered out south of the 49th parallel.



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06 Mixed Motives

NARRATOR

To get his expedition off the ground, Jefferson, always the consummate politician, represented his interests differently to different parties. The British chargé d’affaires, Edward Thornton, reported that Jefferson described the expedition as purely scientific:


EDWARD THORNTON

(English accent)


The president . . . is ambitious in his character of
a man of letters and of science, of distinguishing
his Presidency by a discovery. . . . He assured me that it was in no shape his wish to encourage commerce . . . with any Indian tribes.
NARRATOR

But to Congress, Jefferson described the party as a trade delegation that would open untapped markets.


JEFFERSON

An intelligent officer . . . might . . . have conferences with the natives on the subject of commercial intercourse, [and] get admission among them for our traders.


NARRATOR

And inside the cabinet, yet a third underlying motive was present. There, the West was a stage for imperial expansion. Albert Gallatin, the secretary of the treasury, told Jefferson:


GALLATIN

The great object to ascertain is whether from its extent & fertility that country is susceptible of a large population.


NARRATOR

All three descriptions of the expedition were true, and all were interwoven. Empire was useless unless it could profit the colonial power. Commerce could not thrive without military strength to keep peace and enforce laws. Science was in the service of both. All were reflected in Jefferson’s instructions to Lewis.



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07 Jefferson’s instructions to Lewis

JEFFERSON

The object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream of it, as, by it’s course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean . . . may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce.

You will take careful observation of latitude & longitude, at all remarkable points.

Your observations are to be taken with great pains & accuracy. . . . Several copies of these as well as of your other notes should be made at leisure times.

The commerce which may be carried on with the people inhabiting the line you will pursue, renders a knowledge of those people important. You will therefore endeavor to make yourself acquainted . . . with the names of the nations & their numbers.

Other objects worthy of notice will be the soil & face of the country . . . the animals of the country generally . . . the mineral productions of every kind . . . climate, as characterized by the thermometer.



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08 Packing Knowledge

NARRATOR

The intellectuals of Philadelphia all felt invested in Lewis’ expedition and offered advice as well as questions to be answered,. Benjamin Rush gave him instructions for staying healthy.


RUSH

Flannel should be worn constantly next to the skin, especially in wet weather.

Washing the feet every morning in cold water, will conduce very much to fortify them against the action of cold.

After long marches, or much fatigue from any cause, you will be . . . refreshed by lying down in a horizontal posture for two hours.

Shoes made without heels . . . will enable you to march with less fatigue.
NARRATOR

Benjamin Barton had questions about the Indians.


BARTON

From what quarter of the earth did they emigrate as related to them by their ancestors?

Have they any Monuments to perpetuate national events or the memory of a distinguished Chief ?

Of what does the furniture of [their] lodges Consist?

Do they eat the flesh of their prisoners?

Do they play at any games of risk?


NARRATOR

And they all recommended books to take. Lewis’s traveling library included titles on geography, astronomy, mathematics, botany, and mineralogy, as well as a four-volume encyclopedia. Bringing the knowledge of Europe along was essential to the mission of discovery. It set Lewis apart from the trappers and traders who had already traveled west. He needed to fit what he observed into the framework of European learning.



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09 Packing Supplies

NARRATOR

Lewis was a federal employee, and to get reimbursed for expenses he had to submit receipts. The government accountants who processed his claims filed the receipts, and they are still in the National Archives.

Lewis’ equipment list tells us two things. First, he thought it would be a small expedition, so he requisitioned weapons and clothing for only a dozen men. He also thought he would be traveling by water except for the one short portage between the Missouri and Columbia rivers, so he did not pack lightly. He never expected to have to carry it all.

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10 Objective: Commerce

NARRATOR

The expedition was like a traveling trade show meant to entice Indian customers to want American goods. Trade with the Indians had made fortunes for Europeans, and U.S. businessmen wanted access to this market.

Indian presents were partly free samples, but they were also gifts from one head of state to another. Like gifts between European kings, they opened diplomatic relations and expressed a desire for peace and commerce. The gifts brought on the expedition were meant to earn prestige for the president by demonstrating his wealth and bring free passage for his emissaries by paying tribute.

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11 Objective: Empire

NARRATOR

Thomas Jefferson saw the West as a gameboard of European powers that threatened United States security. The Corps of Discovery, despite its name, was really an army expedition. Lewis made sure it was well armed and trained to intimidate any opposition from Spain, Britain, or Indian nations. Jefferson’s interest in expanding America’s empire westward was to keep older colonial powers from interfering. But he was acting against the principles of small government on which he had been elected. Many Americans who had voted for him feared the power of a U.S. standing army and the mighty central government that would be needed to administer an empire.



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12 Ordinary People (CF Script)*

NARRATOR

According to Lewis,


LEWIS

Their qualifications should be such as perfectly fit them for the service, otherwise they will rather clog than further the objects in view.


NARRATOR

(fife and drum music)

The majority of the expedition was made up of soldiers from Forts Massac and Kaskaskia, who came with their army-issued uniforms and equipment. They were mostly from Pennsylvania and New England and in their 20s. They had names like John Ordway, Patrick Gass, and Alexander Hamilton Willard.

(fiddle music)

Nine of them were woodsmen enlisted from Kentucky, recruited for skills like hunting and blacksmithing. The youngest was 18, and the oldest was 34. These men had names like John Colter, George Shannon, and James Shields. (voyageur song)

At least four were French habitants, natives of the Mississippi Valley who brought dress and customs that were an old blend of Indian and French. It wasn’t always possible to make assumptions as to their status within the Corps based on ethnicity: the half-Shawnee George Drouillard was better educated and better paid than most of the soldiers.



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13 Who was Lewis?

NARRATOR

People had mixed reactions to Meriwether Lewis. His cousin Peachy Gilmer said of him:



PEACHY GILMER

His person was stiff and without grace, bow­legged, awkward, formal, and almost without flexibility. His face was comely and by many considered handsome. It bore to my vision a very strong resemblance to Buonaparte. . . . He was always remarkable for perseverance, which in the early period of his life seemed nothing more than obstinacy.


NARRATOR

The St. Louis businessman Manuel Lisa said he was


LISA

a very headstrong, & in many instances an imprudent man.


NARRATOR

Two cabinet members questioned whether Jefferson had put the right person in charge. Henry Dearborn, the secretary of war, wrote,


DEARBORN

Mr. W. Clark’s having consented to accompany Capt. Lewis . . . adds very much to the balance of chances in favor of ultimate success.


NARRATOR

Jefferson heard none of it. He described Lewis as


JEFFERSON

of courage undaunted, possessing a firmness & perseverance of purpose which nothing but impossibilities could divert . . . honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding and a fidelity to truth.



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14 Who was Clark?

NARRATOR

William Clark was red-haired and gregarious, and in his large, close family, he was always the competent, responsible one. He had grown up in the shadow of his older brother, the Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark. Eager to become something more than the brother of a legend, William joined the U.S. Army at 19 and went to fight Indian tribes on the Ohio frontier.

In 1795 he was commanding a troop of rifle sharpshooters when a problem recruit was transferred to his unit. The young ensign had just been court-martialed for insulting an officer in a drunken rage. It was Clark’s job to handle the fellow, maybe even shape him up. The ensign was Meriwether Lewis, and it was the beginning of one of the great friendships in history.

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15 Camp Dubois (CF Script)*

NARRATOR

Over the winter, the expedition grew to four times the size Jefferson had imagined – around 48 men. This required far more supplies to feed, clothe, and equip the Corps than originally anticipated. Lewis charged most of the expense with the merchants of St. Louis, who sent the bills to Washington.

The captains took turns visiting the town of St. Louis themselves. One of them always had to stay in charge at Camp Dubois, since bedlam broke out among the young men when they were both gone. While the recruits practiced marching and sharpshooting, sawed boards, and packed salt pork in kegs, the officers drank French wine and attended balls surrounded by ladies in Paris fashions.

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16 St. Louis

NARRATOR

(minuet music)

St. Louis was in many ways a European outpost. The town’s economy was based on commerce with Europe, not the United States. St. Louis was a depot where British and French goods imported through the Great Lakes and New Orleans were distributed to both the Indian trade and the colonists. Many of the dishes Lewis and Clark ate off, the furniture they sat on, and the ladies’ clothes they admired came straight from Europe. Although Spanish was the official language of government, everyone spoke French. Socially, as in Europe, it was a stratified society. Many of the professionals and officials were educated immigrants who lived in stone mansions with fine libraries, while the lower classes were mixed-blood Indian-French boatmen and farmers.

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17 The Louisiana Purchase

NARRATOR

Jefferson wrote to Lewis:


JEFFERSON

Being now become sovereigns of the country, without however any diminution of the Indian rights of occupancy . . . it will now be proper you should inform those through whose country you will pass . . . that henceforward we become their fathers and friends, and that we shall endeavor that they shall have no cause to lament the change.



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18 A Pastoral Eden

CLARK

The Plains of this country are covered with a Leek Green Grass, well calculated for the sweetest and most nourishing hay—interspersed with copses of trees, Spreading their lofty branches over Pools Springs or Brooks of fine water. Groups of Shrubs covered with the most delicious fruit is to be seen in every direction, and nature appears to have exerted herself to beatify the Scenery by the variety of flours . . . which Strikes & perfumes the Sensation, and amuses the mind[,] throws it into Conjecturing the cause of So magnificent a Scenery in a Country thus Situated far removed from the Civilized world to be enjoyed by nothing but the Buffalo Elk Deer & Bear in which it abounds.



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19 Military Discipline

NARRATOR

In his journal, Lewis described the court-martial of John Newman:


LEWIS

The Court martial convened this day for the trial of John Newman, charged with “having uttered repeated expressions of a highly criminal and mutinous nature.” . . .The Prisoner plead not guilty to the charge exhibited against him. The court after having duly considered the evidence adduced, as well as the defense of the said prisoner, are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner John Newman is guilty of every part of the charge exhibited against him, and do sentence him agreeably to the rules and articles of war, to receive seventy five lashes on his bear back, and to be henceforth discarded from the permanent party.



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20 The Death of Floyd

CLARK

Sergt. Floyd . . . is dangerously ill[.] we attempt in Vain to relieve him, I am much concerned for his Situation. . . . nature appear[s to be] exhausting fast in him[.] every man is attentive to him (York particularly). . . .

(sound of faraway orders and an echoing

volley of gunshots)

20th August Monday. Sergt. Floyd . . . expired, with a great deal of composure, having Said to me before his death that he was going away and wished me to write a letter—we Buried him to the top of a high round hill over looking the river & Country for a great distance. . . . we buried him with all the honors of War, and fixed a Cedar post at his head with his name title & Day of the month and year. . . . this deceased man . . . had at All times given us proofs of his impartiality Sincerity to ourselves and good will to Serve his Country.

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21 Volcanoes in South Dakota?

NARRATOR

Pieces of pumice and slag found along the Missouri River had led to a theory that there were volcanoes upstream. On September 14 Clark wrote:


CLARK

Walked on Shore with a view to find an old Volcano, Said to be in this neighborhood by Mr. J. McKey of St. Charles. I walked on Shore the whole day without Seeing any appearance of the Volcano.




NARRATOR

At Fort Mandan, Clark conducted an experiment to prove an alternate theory. He burned some earth in a furnace, and it transformed into pumice. The “volcanoes” were actually underground coal beds that caught on fire and cooked the earth above them.



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22 Barking Squirrels (CF Script)*

NARRATOR

(prairie dogs barking)

On September 7 Clark wrote:
CLARK

Capt Lewis & my Self . . . discovered a Village of Small animals that burrow in the ground. . . .

The Village of those animals Covers. about 4 acres of Ground . . . and Contains great numbers of holes on the top of which those little animals Set erect make a Whistling noise and when alarmed Slip into their hole.
NARRATOR

This discovery brought the entire expedition to a halt. Patrick Gass took up the story:


GASS

Captain Lewis and Captain Clarke with all the party except the guard, . . . took with them all the kettles and other vessels for holding water; in order to drive the animals out of their holes by pouring in water; but though they worked at the business till night they only caught one of them.



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23 The Pipe Tomahawk

NARRATOR

When Lewis prepared to meet the Teton, he expected formal diplomacy.


LEWIS

On those occasions, points of etiquette are quite as much attended to by the Indians as among civilized nations.




NARRATOR

But the symbols and courtesies they used were hybrids unique to Indian-European diplomacy and belonged wholly to neither culture. The pipe tomahawk was such a symbol. Invented on the American frontier, it was not used by either culture before 1700, but it was adopted by soldiers of both during the 18th century. It combined an Indian symbol of peace and a European symbol of war. Decorated ones like Lewis’s were "presentation tomahawks" reserved for diplomatic gifts to high-status individuals. It was not what we call today a peace pipe. LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a modern-day Lakota, says:


LADONNA ALLARD

We don’t own a thing called a peace pipe. . . . we learned about peace pipes from white people. We don’t have such a thing in our culture. A pipe is prayer and sacred and an object of prayer. When you’re having a gathering you have prayer. And so when you bring people from other countries you sit down and pray for goodwill and truth and so it’s prayer.



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Directory: exhibits
exhibits -> The United States and Vietnam, What Lies Ahead
exhibits -> Morris K. Udall Selected Articles: The United States and Vietnam -what Lies Ahead? by Morris K. Udall
exhibits -> Morris K. Udall Selected Speeches: "Water, Energy and Books Competition, Will it Help or Hurt?" New York, May 16, 1977
exhibits -> Press release
exhibits -> Preserving American Freedom Declaration of Independence & the Struggle for Equality: dbq directions
exhibits -> New York City: a federal Responsibility
exhibits -> Morris K. Udall Selected Speeches: Energy, Economics and the Environment: The Old Order is Breaking Down The Old Rules Don't Work Any More Yale Political Union December 3, 1976
exhibits -> Morris K. Udall Selected Articles: How they Run Udall for President No Laughing Matter by Mike Barnes Copyright 1975 by the Democratic Forum
exhibits -> Morris K. Udall Selected Articles: Will Rogers is Running for President by Aaron Latham Copyright 1974 by New York Magazine


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