Why did Thomas Jefferson finance the expeditions of Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike?
What were the most important discoveries of those expeditions?
- staisilLv 76 years agoFavorite Answer
Jefferson hoped to establish trade with the Native American people of the West and find a water route to the Pacific. Jefferson also was fascinated by the prospect of what could be learned about the geography of the West, the lives and languages of the Native Americans, the plants and animals, the soil, the rocks, the weather, and how they differed from those in the East. Also, Jefferson viewed westward expansion as a way for the nation to maintain its agrarian values.
General James Wilkinson, the governor of the newly purchased Louisiana Territory, sent Pike on the first of two expeditions through the territory, a mission to find the source of the Mississippi River. Although Pike was unable to find the source of the river, he did hold significant talks with various tribes in the regions he passed through. Wilkinson may have also intended to test British reactions to a U.S. military exploration venturing into traditional fur-trapping country.
Pike's expedition set out westward in April 1806, to the Arkansas River in modern central Colorado. Apparently, word of Pike's "secret" mission reached the Spanish headquarters for the northern provinces of New Spain in Chihuahua, Mexico. A Spanish military force was dispatched to intercept Pike. Meanwhile, Pike reached the present-day area of Pueblo, Colorado. En route in November 1806, he attempted to ascend a summit located in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains near modern Colorado Springs, what later became known as Pike's Peak. He had to turn back, however, as his party was not prepared for the snow and cold weather on the 14,110 foot peak.
After exploring the Arkansas River's headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, Pike then turned south, supposedly to find the Red River's source. However, he crossed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Rio Grande River's Conejos fork, where he constructed a cottonwood log outpost. At that location a Spanish detachment finally found him. The Spaniards requested Pike and his men accompany them to Santa Fe. Pike, claiming he meant to be on the Red River, departed as requested, and wound up in Chihuahua as a prisoner charged with illegal entry into Spanish territory. A year later the Spaniards escorted Pike and his party back northward to the United States territory at Natchitoches, Louisiana, where he was released in July 1807.
After his return Pike was dispatched to the Secretary of War to answer for his actions and his relationship to Wilkinson. Wilkinson, along with Aaron Burr (1756–1836), was accused of plotting to illegally seize the Southwest from Spain. Absolved of wrongdoing, Pike resumed his military career.
- Anonymous6 years ago
Thomas Jefferson was the original Republican. He was a firm believer in the small yeoman farmer, the small shop owner etc. But for such a program to succeed you need lots of land. When Napolean asked the US Government if they were interested in purchasing the Louisiana Territory he saw his opportunity to make the small farmer work for many years to come. So he talked Congress into buying it whole thing. Once he bought it he needed to know what he had actually purchased. How big was it, what did it entail. Virtually everything west of St Louis was a complete mystery. The map just showed the word Louisiana Territory and that was it, nothing else. Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark out west to literally start putting information on the map, what was actually out there. Lewis and Clark were to find a route through the mountains to the Pacific Ocean. As far as any one knew Rocky Mountains were just one big wall. The same with Zebulon Pike, Jefferson wanted to know what was between St Louis and the Pacific Ocean.
- Tundra RobLv 76 years ago
The purpose of the Lewis and Clark expedition was to explore the largely uncharted western territories and find a land route to the Pacific Ocean.
Zebulon Pike was sent to explore the Louisiana territory and find the source of the Red River.