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Lewis & Clark

Lewis & Clark: Legacies, Memories, and New Perspectives

Kris Fresonke
Mark Spence
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 298
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    Lewis & Clark
    Book Description:

    Two centuries after their expedition awoke the nation both to the promise and to the disquiet of the vast territory out west, Lewis and Clark still stir the imagination, and their adventure remains one of the most celebrated and studied chapters in American history. This volume explores the legacy of Lewis and Clark's momentous journey and, on the occasion of its bicentennial, considers the impact of their westward expedition on American culture. Approaching their subject from many different perspectives—literature, history, women's studies, law, medicine, and environmental history, among others—the authors chart shifting attitudes about the explorers and their journals, together creating a compelling, finely detailed picture of the "interdisciplinary intrigue" that has always surrounded Lewis and Clark's accomplishment. This collection is most remarkable for its insights into ongoing debates over the relationships between settler culture and aboriginal peoples, law and land tenure, manifest destiny and westward expansion, as well as over the character of Sacagawea, the expedition's vision of nature, and the interpretation and preservation of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93714-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Kris Fresonke

    Despite the drab Sacagawea dollar, despite commemorative tourism, despite sentimental histories, despite Lewis and Clark souvenirs made from authentic Dakota prairie grasses, despite the enforced invisibility of Native Americans, despite national park gift shops, despite half-baked bicentennial hagiography, despite product placement, and despite the national mood of hero worship, Lewis and Clark’s achievement in the early nineteenth century is still absorbing, momentous, and of seemingly inexhaustible interest. The purpose of this collection is to offer a selection of the latest scholarship on the expedition, and to assess, on the occasion of the bicentennial, its importance in American history and literature....


    • [PART I. Introduction]
      (pp. 17-20)

      Though largely neglected by scholars and the general public for most of the nineteenth century, the Lewis and Clark expedition has attracted a great deal of attention since the centennial celebrations of 1904 and 1905. It would seem that the past one hundred years might be enough to exhaust the subject. After all, the expedition has a clear beginning and end, the route across the continent is well known and documented, various issues of the journals are widely available, and hundreds of authors have already written about the subject. Yet the increasing flood of books, articles, and films on the...

    • Chapter 1 Living with Lewis & Clark: The American Philosophical Society’s Continuing Relationship with the Corps of Discovery from the Michaux Expedition to the Present
      (pp. 21-36)
      Edward C. Carter II

      Both Benjamin Franklin’s 1743 proposal for the creation of the American Philosophical Society and its 1780 charter charged the organization with fostering discovery and exploration through surveys, charting, and mapping of the unknown expanses of North America and its “Sea-coasts, or Inland Countries; Course and Junctions of Rivers and Great Roads, Situations of Lakes and Mountains,” and describing “the variety of its climate, the fertility of its soil,” all of which offered to “these United States . . . the richest subjects of cultivation, ever presented to any people upon the earth.” Over the years, the society has taken its...

    • Chapter 2 Wilderness Aesthetics
      (pp. 37-69)
      Frank Bergon

      The Lewis and Clark expedition, like the adventures in theEpic of Gilgameshand theOdyssey, was a trek into an unfamiliar and often frightening wilderness— the first, longest, and largest of nineteenth-century United States government expeditions into terra incognita. Launched from St. Louis in 1804 in a 55-foot masted keelboat and two pirogues carrying more than 8,000 pounds of food and equipment, the Voyage of Discovery, as it was called, lasted two years, four months, and ten days. Round-trip, it covered 7,689 miles between the mouth of the Missouri River and the Pacific outlet of the Columbia River. To...

    • Chapter 3 “Two dozes of barks and opium”: Lewis & Clark as Physicians
      (pp. 70-82)
      Ronald V. Loge M.D.

      After the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson entrusted the fate of the expedition to explore the Missouri River headwaters to his capable friend and personal secretary, twenty-eight-year-old Meriwether Lewis. Having planned the expedition for ten years, Jefferson outlined detailed and precise goals. He was interested in opening up the west in order to establish trade routes, particularly for the fur trade, and he wanted to lay claim to the Pacific Northwest. In addition, Jefferson wished to learn more about the indigenous peoples, their cultures, and their health. He provided Meriwether Lewis with the necessary instruction...


    • [PART II. Introduction]
      (pp. 83-86)

      The Lewis and Clark expedition is almost universally described as the greatest and most successful exercise in overland exploration ever attempted. Even today, it is hard to conceive how one might organize thirty-five to forty-five individuals to cross the continent by foot, horseback, and small watercraft, then return by similar routes and modes of travel. Trying to accomplish the same feat in the early nineteenth century, and lose only one person to an inoperable case of appendicitis, truly boggles the imagination. Of course, the completion of this transcontinental journey depended on the assistance of Native peoples—who themselves were quite...

    • Chapter 4 The Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark Expedition: A Constitutional Moment?
      (pp. 87-116)
      Peter A. Appel

      “Scarcely any political question arises in the United States,” noted Alexis de Tocqueville, “that is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question.”¹ If Tocqueville is correct, then the Lewis and Clark expedition—in some ways, the culmination of the Louisiana Purchase—ought to be a constant reference in the case law of American courts. Instead, the legal researcher combing through Westlaw or Lexis unearths such mundane and irrelevant matters as cases involving Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, Lewis and Clark County, Montana, a recent decision of the Supreme Court entitledLewis v. Lewis and Clark Marine,...

    • Chapter 5 “Twice-born” from the Waters: The Two-Hundred-Year Journey of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Indians
      (pp. 117-142)
      Raymond Cross

      Christian salvatory lore requires that you be “twice-born” from the waters to merit everlasting life. Perhaps in a similar manner, the sacred and secular birth and rebirth of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara people from the waters may merit them everlasting life. Their first birth from beneath the waters of Spirit Lake conferred a sacred character on their endeavors to develop an economically and culturally vibrant life along the bottomlands of the upper Missouri River.¹ According to the Hidatsa creation story, they came from beneath the waters of Spirit Lake, that body of water non-Indians now call Devils Lake in...

    • Chapter 6 George Shannon and C. S. Rafinesque
      (pp. 143-154)
      Charles Boewe

      In the 1820s, when George Shannon was a resident there, Lexington, Kentucky had a population of a little over 5,000.¹ For its size and its geographic location, Lexington was remarkably cosmopolitan, with more than a dozen French names listed in its directory, one of which was that of C. S. Rafinesque.² Most of these people knew one another, so it is not remarkable that Rafinesque and Shannon were acquainted—Rafinesque, a professor at Transylvania, the only university west of the Alleghenies, and Shannon, a successful lawyer and a member of the state’s General Assembly from 1820 to 1823. In addition...


    • [PART III. Introduction]
      (pp. 155-158)

      Though largely ignored for almost a century, the Lewis and Clark expedition began to take on new meaning and attract new attention in the late 1890s. In the process, this neglected historical subject was transformed into an epic quest that has never since lost its central place in the nation’s collective memory. The expedition has become an origin story of the first order that invariably portrays Lewis and Clark as prophets of the future, as if the history of national development were a natural occurrence and the two explorers simply on a journey into the future—with each group of...

    • Chapter 7 “We are not dealing entirely with the past”: Americans Remember Lewis & Clark
      (pp. 159-183)
      John Spencer

      The importance theNation’sreviewer attached to Lewis and Clark is striking, considering that books by or about “these heroes” had been hard to come by for most of the nineteenth century. Their route remained obscure to most Americans, and public celebrations of their expedition were apparently unknown. But all of that had changed by the time the reviewer wrote in 1904, a year of centennial celebration of Lewis and Clark. Americans had not completely forgotten the explorers before 1900, but they now remembered them in new ways and new media, including popular literature, reprints of the original expedition journals,...

    • Chapter 8 Sacajawea, Meet Cogewea: A Red Progressive Revision of Frontier Romance
      (pp. 184-197)
      Joanna Brooks

      TheJournalsof Meriwether Lewis and William Clark offer incidental, idiosyncratic glimpses of Sacajawea: her pregnancy and delivery (January–February 1805); her skill as a gatherer of wild artichokes, apples, and “Lickerish” (April and May 1805); her extended illness (June 1805); her relationship with the sometimes abusive French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau (August 1805); her return to the site of her childhood abduction and her reunion with family (July–August 1805); her vote to establish winter quarters at a site plentiful with “potas” (November 1805); and her insistence on seeing the Pacific Ocean (January 1806). Clark additionally acknowledges her work as...

    • Chapter 9 On the Trail: Commemorating the Lewis & Clark Expedition in the Twentieth Century
      (pp. 198-214)
      Wallace Lewis

      Concerned over the nation’s inadequate commemoration of the explorers’ 1804–06 journey to the Pacific Ocean and back, delegates from more than twenty communities in the Pacific Northwest and Montana gathered at Lewiston, Idaho in 1929 to form the Lewis and Clark Memorial Association (LCMA). “It seems almost incredible,” the group’s initial report states, “that through all those years there has been no national monument erected in their honor. Perpetuated only in a few place names, they claim but scant present attention, except from close students of western history.” The association may have overstated the case, ignoring the two world’s...


    • [PART IV. Introduction]
      (pp. 215-218)

      With the bicentennial of the expedition approaching, interest in Lewis and Clark has grown exponentially. From St. Louis, Missouri to Seaside, Oregon, various states, counties, and cities are planning to cash in on the millions of latter-day explorers who will cruise the expedition route in the next few years. In the words of David Borlaug, president of the National Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council, the bicentennial “is shaping up to be the tourist event of the 21st century.” All of this reflects an increased focus on the Trail as the appropriate site for commemorating the expedition, but a four-thousand-mile, two-and-a-half-year...

    • Chapter 10 Let’s Play Lewis & Clark!: Strange Visions of Nature and History at the Bicentennial
      (pp. 219-238)
      Mark Spence

      The middle weeks of October can be a cruel time of year in the Dakotas. It is not uncommon to experience four seasons in a day, when a mild afternoon can give way to cold rain and a bone-chilling night. Travelers in the open must contend with the blasting winds of the Great Plains, which swing wildly about the compass as continental weather patterns shift between the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic. Gray skies from the north become more prevalent with each passing day, however, and early morning frosts settle into the dry grasses and put an urgency to...

    • Chapter 11 On the Tourist Trail with Lewis & Clark: Issues of Interpretation and Preservation
      (pp. 239-264)
      Andrew Gulliford

      Western states are bracing for a huge influx of Lewis and Clark tourists who will follow the explorers’ routes before, during, and after the 2004–06 Lewis and Clark bicentennial. Tourists will travel along a 4,000-mile route from St. Louis, Missouri to Astoria, Oregon, even though some scholars argue that the Lewis and Clark trail begins not in St. Louis, but in Pittsburgh or in Washington, D.C. These matters are of little or no concern to those who readily identify the two explorers with the lands they encountered. Some especially dedicated enthusiasts will follow the entire Trail, embarking from St....

    • Chapter 12 The Lewis & Clark Bicentennial: Putting Tribes Back on the Map
      (pp. 265-274)
      Roberta Conner

      The descendants of the people described in these journal entries still live in much the same area as when the expedition traversed their homeland in 1805 and again in 1806.¹ The Walla Walla, Umatilla, and Cayuse tribes, as they are now known, make up the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation just east of Pendleton, Oregon. The population of the confederacy is about 2,200 enrolled members. About two-thirds of the tribal membership plus about 1,000 Indians from other tribes and 1,700 non-Indians reside within the present-day reservation. Relative tribes include, among others, the Warm Springs, Wanapum, Palouse, Yakama, and...

  9. Epilogue. “We proceeded on”
    (pp. 275-282)
    Dayton Duncan

    One January afternoon years ago, I found myself huddling next to a fire inside an earth lodge near Stanton, North Dakota. The temperature outside had managed a high of only 3 degrees below zero. A north wind howled across the prairies. The sun was slipping below the horizon, to be followed by nearly sixteen hours of darkness. The wordcolddoes not begin to express where the night was clearly headed.

    Across from me, patiently feeding the fire with cottonwood logs, sat Gerard Baker, a Mandan-Hidatsa and park ranger for the National Park Service. He had built the earth lodge...

    (pp. 283-286)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 287-290)