This is the first authoritative biography of the two great explorers charged by President Thomas Jefferson with exploring the lands beyond the headwaters of the Mississippi in 1803. In writing the work, Dr. Bakeless, noted American historian, drew on his own exhaustive field research as well as a wealth of original documents, including diaries kept by expedition members. These recorded not only the bold outlines of the trip with its Indian fights and other perils, but also such fascinating details as the number of buffaloes eaten, grizzly bears fought, the variety of plants and seeds collected, and the customs and lore of the Indian tribes.
The expedition was planned with military precision down to the last grain of powder, but in the final analysis it was the courage and resourcefulness of the two leaders that kept the party together for three years. Their perseverance and “horse sense” in the face of incredible obstacles and hardships was largely responsible for the success of the undertaking, which in turn buttressed Jefferson’s vision of a United States stretching beyond the Continental Divide to the shores of the Pacific.
Clear and well written, Dr. Bakeless’ book contains an immense amount of material unknown before its original publication, and the whole work is informed with the author’s fresh insights and keen perceptions. It will be welcomed by historians and students of American history but it will also be read with great enjoyment by anyone interested in the two remarkable men who led one of the most important and influential expeditions in the annals of exploration.
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