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American NationFreeman-Custis ExpeditionIn English
Jefferson's Plan (English)
Equipping the Grand Excursion
 

Instructions Compared (English)

Excerpts from
Jefferson's Instructions to Lewis
Dated June 20, 1803
Presented to Lewis June 30, 1803
Excerpts from
Jefferson's Instructions to Freeman
Dated April 14, 1804
Presented to Freeman in November, 1805

he object of your mission is to explore the Missouri river, & such principal stream[s] of it, as, by it's course and communication with the waters of the Pacific ocean, whether the Columbia, Oregan, Colorado or any other river may offer the most direct & practicable water communication across this continent for the purposes of commerce.

Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri, you will take careful observations of latitude & longitude, at all remarkeable points on the river, & especially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, at islands, & other places & objects distinguished by such natural marks & characters of a durable kind, as that they may with certainty be recognized hereafter. The courses of the river between these points of observation may be supplied by the compass the log-line & by time, corrected by the observations themselves. The variations of the compass too, in different places, should be notices.

...Your observations are to be taken with great pains & accuracy, to be entered distinctly & intelligibly for others as well as yourself, to comprehend all the elements necessary,with the aid of the usual tables, to fix the latitude and longitude of the places at which they were taken, and are to be rendered to the war-office, for the purpose of having the calculations made concurrently by proper persons within the U.S. Several copies of these as well as of your other notes should be made at leisure times, & put into the care of the most trust-worthy of your attendants, to guard, by multiplying them, against the accidental losses to which they will be exposed. A further guard would be that one of these copies be on the paper of the birch, as less liable to injury from damp than common paper.1

...Other objects worthy of notice will be
the soil & face of the country, it's growth & vegetable productions, especially those not of the U.S.
the animals of the country generally, & especially those not known in the U.S.
the remains or accounts of any which may be deemed rare or extinct;
the mineral productions of every kind; but more particularly metals, limestone, pit coal, & saltpeter; salines & mineral waters, noting the temperature of the last, & such circumstances as may indicate their character;
volcanic appearances;
climate, as characterized by the thermometer by the proportion of rainy, cloudy, & clear days, by lightning, hail, snow, ice, by the access & recess of frost, by the winds prevailing at different seasons, the dates at which particular plants put forth or lose their flower, or leaf, times of appearance of particular birds, reptiles or insects.

...In all your intercourse with the natives, treat them in the most friendly & conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit; allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey, satisfy them of it's innocence, make them acquainted with the position, extent, character, peaceable & commercial dispositions of the U.S.[,] of our wish to be neighborly, friendly & useful to them, & of our dispositions to a commercial intercourse with them; confer with them on the points most convenient as mutual emporiums, and the articles of most desireable interchange for them & us.

...We value too much the lives of citizens to offer them to probable destruction. Your numbers will be sufficient to secure you against the unauthorised opposition of individuals or of small parties: but if a superior force, authorised, or not authorised, by a nation, should be arrayed against your further passage, and inflexibly determined to arrest it, you must decline it's farther pursuit, and return. In the loss of yourselves, we should lose also the information you will have acquired. By returning safely with that, you may enable us to renew the essay with better calculated means. To your own discretion therefore must be left the degree of danger you may risk, and the point at which you should decline, only saying we wish you to err on the side of your safety, and to bring back your party safe even if it be with less information.

...As far up the Missouri as the white settlements extend, an intercourse will probably be found to exist between them & the Spanish posts of St. Louis opposite Cahokia, or Ste. Genevieve opposite Kaskaskia.



he government of the US. being desirous of informing itself of the extent of the Country lately ceded to them under the name of Louisiana to have the same with its principal rivers geographically delineated, to learn the character of the soil climate productions & inhabitants.

...From Natchez you are to proceed to ascend the Red river taking observations of longitude and latitude at its mouth, at all remarkable points in its course & especially at the mouths of rivers, at rapids, islands and other places & objects distinguished by such natural marks and characters of a durable kind as that they may with certainty be recognized thereafter. the course of the rivers between these points of observation may be supplied by the compass the log line and by time corrected by the observations themselves. the variations of the Compass too in different places are to be noted.

...Your observations are to be taken with great pains and accuracy to be entered distinctly and intelligibly for others as well as yourself to comprehend all the elements necessary with the use of the usual tables to find the latitude and longitude of the places at which they were taken and are to be rendered to the War office for the purpose of having the calculations made concurrently by proper persons within the US. several copies of these as well as of your other notes should be made at leisure time and put into the care of the most trustworthy of your attendants to guard, by multiplying them against the accidental losses to which they will be exposed. a further guard perhaps would be that one of these copies should be on the paper of the birch as supposed less liable to injury from damp than common paper.

The following objects in the Country adjacent to the rivers along which you will pass will be worthy of notice. The soil and face of the Country, the growth and vegetable productions especially those not of the maritime states. the animals of the Country generally and especially those not known in the maritime states. the remains and accounts of any which may be deemed extinct. the mineral productions most worth notice but more particularly metals limestone, gypsum pitcoal, saltpetre, rock salt and salt springs and mineral waters, noting the temperature of the last and such circumstances as may indicate their characters.
Volcanic appearances.
Climate, as characterized by the thermometer by the proportion of rainy cloudy and clear days, by lightning hail snow ice, by the access and recess of frost by the winds prevailing at different seasons the dates at which particular plants put forth or loose their flower or leaf times of appearances of particular birds, reptiles or insects.

...Court an intercourse with the natives as intensively as you can, treat them on all occasions in the most friendly and conciliatory manner which their conduct will admit. allay all jealousies as to the object of your journey make them acquainted with the position, intent, character peaceable and commercial dispositions of the US....that henceforth we become their fathers and useful to them and especially to carry on commerce with them on terms more reasonable and advantageous for them than any other nation ever did:...

...We value too much the lives of citizens to offer them to probable destruction. Your numbers will be sufficient to secure you against the unauthorized opposition of individuals or of small parties. but if at any time a superior force authorized or not authorized by a nation should be arrayed against your further passage and inflexibly determined to arrest it, you must decline its further pursuit and return. in the loss of yourselves we should also loose the information you will have acquire. by returning safely with that you may enable us to renew the essay with better calculated means. to your own discretion therefore must be left the degree of danger you may risk and the point at which you should decline: only saying we wish you to err on the side of your safety and to bring back your party safe even with less information.

Based on Flores, J&SE, Appendix I (319-325); Donald Jackson, LLCE, I:57-66; Donald Peattie, NHWT, 383-387

--Joseph Mussulman

1. Thomas Jefferson may be forgiven this bit of botanical fantasy, for he could not have known that paper birch, Betula papyrefera Marshall (Betula [beh-TOO-la] is Latin for "birch"; papyrefera, [pap-ee-re-FAIR-ah] means paperbearing, doesn't grow as far south as either of the expeditions were traveling. None of the journalists ever brought up Jefferson's cockamamie idea, and none of the other species of Betula they saw could have substituted for northern paper birch as writing paper, even if they could have found the time to gather enough bark for the mammoth journaling job. Besides, "paper" birch merely describes the general appearance of the species papyrefera's outer bark, not its commercial utility.
Jefferson's Plan (English)
Equipping the Grand Excursion


 
From Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, http://www.lewis-clark.org © 1998-2014
by The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota.
Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton
13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001)