President Jefferson instructed Meriwether Lewis to collect information on “the soil & face of the country, [its] growth & vegetable productions… the animals of the country generally, especially those not of the U.S.” In fulfilling these instructions, members of the Expedition were the first to describe for science 178 plants. The explorers’ written descriptions and the seeds and specimens they collected were Jefferson’s window onto the new west.
Learn more about some of the plants collected and used by the Expedition:
Did You Know?
Twenty years before the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Thomas Jefferson hoped to mount the “Clark Expedition.” In 1783, Jefferson asked William Clark’s brother and Revolutionary War hero, George Rogers Clark, to lead a cross country expedition to explore the west. Clark declined the offer.