National Archives and Records Administration

American Originals Exhibit

Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)

Lewis and Clark Expedition

"Great joy in camp—we are in view of the ocean—this great Pacific Ocean which we been so long anxious to See."
William Clark
Co-commander of the Lewis and Clark expedition
November 7, 1805

In a secret message to Congress, dated January 18, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson asked for $2,500 to explore the West—all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The modesty of the request, couched principally in terms of promoting commerce, belied the grandeur of the vision behind it. Jefferson had long been fascinated with the West and dreamed of an "empire of liberty"—a United States that would stretch across the entire continent.

Jefferson instructed Meriwether Lewis, who commanded the expedition jointly with William Clark, to seek new trade routes, to befriend the western tribes of Indians, and to report on the geography, geology, astronomy, zoology, botany, and climate of the West. The 28-month, 8,000-mile expedition provided the U.S. government with its first glimpse of the vast lands that lay west of the Mississippi River.

The records shown here, relating to Lewis's purchases for the expedition, are from the Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, the department that ensured efficient systems of supply for the U.S. military. Maps relating to the Lewis and Clark Expedition are in the National Archives Cartographic and Architectural Branch.

President Jefferson worked closely with Meriwether Lewis to ensure that he was well prepared—to anticipate what the party would need in the way of arms, food, medicines, camping gear, scientific instruments, and presents for the Indians. They planned well. While the expedition ran out of such luxuries as whiskey, tobacco, and salt, they never ran out of rifles and powder, needed both for self-defense and food supply; and they never ran out of ink and paper, needed to record their findings.
List of purchases made by Meriwether Lewis in preparation for the expedition to the West

List of Indian presents purchased by Meriwether Lewis in preparation for the expedition to the West

Receipt for tobacco purchased by Meriwether Lewis for the expedition to the West, June 3, 1803

Receipt for wine and kegs purchased by Meriwether Lewis for the expedition to the West, June 1, 1803

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Election of 1824

"Look to the city of Washington. There corruption is springing into existence, and fast flourishing."
John H. Eaton, campaign manager for
Andrew Jackson

In the Presidential election of 1824, Andrew Jackson received the greatest number of popular and electoral votes. Running in a field of four candidates, however, he failed to capture a majority of the electoral votes. When the electoral college cannot declare a majority winner, the Constitution provides that the House of Representatives selects the President from the three leading candidates. After a single ballot, the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams as President over Andrew Jackson, fueling charges previously made by Jackson's supporters that a "corrupt bargain" had been struck.

The record shown here are from the National Archives Center for Legislative Archives, which has physical custody of the official records of the U.S. Congress, dating from 1789; Congress maintains legal custody of these records.

Tally of electoral votes, showing the number of votes received by the four candidates: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford, and Henry Clay, February 9, 1825

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Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
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American Originals 2

National Archives and Records Administration
Last updated: July 1, 1998