Jan 18, 1803. Seeking information on what lay west of the young US, President Thomas Jefferson sent a confidential letter to Congress on Jan 18, 1803, requesting funds for an exploratory expedition to be led by Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark. After the Louisiana Purchase was signed on Apr 30, 1803, the expedition’s mission changed: it became a survey of new American land. The Corps of Discovery set off May 14 from St. Louis and returned with much information about the land, flora and fauna and peoples there on Sept 23, 1806.
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