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?
Jefferson sent the Corps of Discovery to find the "most direct & practicable water communication across [the] continent." Although the Corps did not find the water route Jefferson had hoped for, they did explore 4 major rivers: the Missouri, the Columbia, the Snake, and the Yellowstone.