with spirit, and made ready to join him in seeking the information which Jefferson desired “for the benefit of our own country and of the world.” For a time it was Jefferson's pretence that the undertaking was “a literary enterprise.” But when the sale of Louisiana was ratified, there was no further need of concealing the interest of the Federal Government in the project. Lewis left Pittsburgh on 31 August, 1803, to meet Clark in Kentucky. They wintered in Illinois, as Clark writes,
at the enterance of a Small river opposit the Mouth of Missouri Called Wood River, where they formed their party, Composed of robust helthy hardy young men.In the spring the detachment of twenty-nine regular members and sixteen supernumeraries began the slow progress up the Missouri. They spent the next winter in a stockade in North Dakota, proceeding in the spring of 1805 to the source of the Jefferson Fork of the Missouri, and under many hardships crossing over the barrier mountains toward the end of summer. Going down the Columbia River, they reached the Pacific at the close of the autumn, to pass the winter in their Fort Clatsop-log huts enclosed by a palisade. Here they had leisure to study the natives and to compile records. In March, 1806, they began the return journey. After surmounting the difficult snow-clad barrier in June, the party divided, Lewis making his way to the Falls of the Missouri, and exploring Maria's River, Clark returning to the head of Jefferson Fork, proceeding thence to the Yellowstone River, and following this down to the Missouri. Coming together again in August, they went to St. Louis in September, having consumed about two and one-third years in the wilds. The subsequent duties of Lewis as Governor of Louisiana Territory, and of Clark as Superintendent of Indian Affairs, delayed the preparation of the records, although Jefferson was ardent for their publication. In 1809, Lewis, while on his way to Washington and Philadelphia to take charge of the editing, met his death, probably by violence, in Tennessee; whereupon the unlettered Clark, at the urgent desire of Jefferson, undertook the task with the help of Nicholas Biddle of Philadelphia.