William Clark




Pacific Ocean


Maritime Republic (1751-1815)








Explorer, Indian agent, and governor of Missouri Territory�

In 1796 Clark resigned from the military to begin a career as a mercantile capitalist supplying goods to the city of Louisville. His career plans were interrupted, however, when Meriwether Lewis, a military colleague from the Wayne campaign, asked him to help command an expedition to explore the far Northwest under the sponsorship of the federal government. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, as it came to be known, left St. Louis in May 1804, arriving in present-day North Dakota by that November. After wintering there with the Mandan Indians, the expedition, in the spring of 1805 moved on to the Great Falls of the Missouri River in present-day Montana before crossing the Continental Divide. By Christmas the explorers had reached their destination and settled into winter quarters at Fort Clatsop on the Pacific coast. The expedition left the Pacific Northwest in the spring of 1806 and safely arrived back in St. Louis on 23 September of that year�

Clark was the principal cartographer on the mission and is also credited with having made significant ethnographic contributions. The objective and detached way in which Clark described the native inhabitants, as reflected in the Lewis and Clark journals, is striking for the early nineteenth century. For example, on the sexual mores of the Chinooks, Clark observed that they "appear to view sensuality as a necessary evil, and do not appear to abhor it as a crime in the unmarried state." Clark also is responsible for having named a number of flora and fauna�

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