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Letter from Meriwether Lewis to Thomas Jefferson, July 8, 1803

To obtain weapons and other equipment for the expedition, Meriwether Lewis went to the federal arsenal and industrial town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia. One of his purchases was an air gun, meant to impress any indigenous peoples of the West they might meet. Lewis kept President Jefferson informed of all his preparations for the journey.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Letter from Meriwether Lewis to Thomas Jefferson, July 8, 1803

Exploring the Continent - 2

Appropriations from Congress funded exploration of the West. At the urging of President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, Congress supported a “Corps of Discovery” led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The expedition’s mission was to chart western territory acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, locate a water route to the Pacific Ocean and establish trade with native tribes.