kenburns

Courtesy of Florentine Films

When President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon, he doubled the country's size. The sudden western expansion of the United States--and rumors of a Northwest Passage that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific--motivated Jefferson to find the great byway to the West. He appropriated $2,500 for the journey and commissioned his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to the task of revealing the West. Lewis asked his old friend, William Clark, and a group of rough frontiersmen to join the expedition, now called the Corps of Discovery.