Lewis and Clark Northwest Passage

Lewis and Clark Picture

Facts about the Northwest Passage

1. Lewis and Clark started their expedition of discovery on May 14, 1804, but European explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot, had been searching for the illusive water route that would connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean (the South Sea) for hundreds of years.

2. Lucrative trade with the Orient and India was only possible by sailing south around Africa or South America which was a long and hazardous journey

3. The later explorers continued searching for an easy waterway to enable them to cross the 3000 mile continent of North America from Europe and the Atlantic Ocean which would connect them to the Pacific.

4. They were hoping to find a passage consisting of a river, or series of connected rivers, that would cross the western mountains and reach the Pacific Ocean.

5. A 'Northwest Passage' would have allowed more direct commerce with the Orient including the riches of Cathay (China), Japan and Indonesia.

6. President Thomas Jefferson believed the discovery of the 'Northwest Passage' would bring great wealth and new trade opportunities to the United States of America.

7. The term 'Northwest Passage' was coined by Richard Hakluyt who published Voyages in Search of the North-West Passage in 1587.

8. Lewis and Clark failed to find a series of connecting rivers to travel across the North American continent.

9. The expedition found the headwaters of the Missouri River, then crossed the Continental Divide and Lemhi Pass to discover that there was no Northwest Passage.

10. Lewis and Clark found that the Rocky Mountains were much more extensive than anticipated (over 300 miles across in some places) and that the upper reaches of the Missouri River were simply not navigable.

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Modified 2018