By Maurice Isserman, John S. Bowman
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Extra info for Across America: The Lewis and Clark Expedition (Discovery and Exploration)
They had other troubles as well, further slowing their progress. Rain was rusting their rifles, tomahawks, and knives and spoiling the supply of biscuits, forcing them to halt to dry their goods and repackage them. The pirogue Lewis acquired in Pittsburgh leaked, as did a replacement craft he picked up en route a few days later. In Wheeling on September 9 Lewis purchased a larger pirogue that served them better. It is difficult to keep track of the expedition’s boats, but somewhere along the way en route to the Mississippi that fall, Lewis seems to have acquired both the red and the white pirogue that would carry his men up the Missouri.
Lewis had borrowed the book from Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton of Philadelphia in 1803, and returned it to him in 1807, with an inscription noting it had been carried across the continent. ” And, most important, he was to employ his new skills in fixing longitude and latitude to determine the location of the “interesting points of the portage between the heads of the Missouri, & of the water offering the best communication with the Pacific ocean. . ” Jefferson insisted that Lewis take every possible precaution to ensure that the information he gathered be carefully recorded and preserved.
In his dealings with Congress, as with the Spanish ambassador, Jefferson was being less than completely honest. His emphasis on the benefits the expedition might yield for American merchants, although certainly a concern of Jefferson’s, was not the main purpose of the expedition. He said nothing of the scientific observations that he hoped his “intelligent officer” would carry out en route—he rather doubted whether as president he had the authority under the Constitution to launch an expedition for that purpose.