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President Jefferson’s Confidential Message to Congress, January 18, 1803

On January 18, 1803, President Jefferson sent to Congress a request for an appropriation to finance an expedition to the West, which would seek to establish trade with the Indian tribes and to search for a route to the Western (Pacific) Ocean. The Constitution granted Congress the power to regulate commerce.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

President Jefferson’s Confidential Message to Congress President Jefferson’s Confidential Message to Congress President Jefferson’s Confidential Message to Congress President Jefferson’s Confidential Message to Congress

Exploring the Continent - 1

Appropriations from Congress funded the exploration of the West. In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson ordered Captain Meriwether Lewis to organize a Corps of Discovery and persuaded Congress to fund this expedition charged with finding a water route to the Pacific Ocean and developing trade with the native tribes. After the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France later in 1803, the Corp’s mission was also to chart and report on this newly acquired land that doubled the size of our young nation.