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  Old Newspaper Accounts Regarding Lewis And Clark  


Hartford, CT

The American Mercury was published in Hartford, CT.

American Mercury:
On page 2 of the issue dated Nov 13, 1806 there is a long 3 column news story on the return of Lewis & Clark expedition. It begins with the news that Lewis and Clark have returned from their Western explorations. It is followed by a 2 column letter signed in type by William Clark and details the highlights of the expedition.

Nov. 13, 1806 AM

Text of the portion shown ...

" ... Large sloops may with safety ascend as high as tide water, and vessels of 300 tons burthen, reach the entrance of the Multnomah river, a large Northern branch of the Columbia, which takes its rise on the confines of New-Mexico, with the Callerado and Apostle's rivers, discharging itself into the Columbia 123 miles from its entrance into the Pacific ocean. I consider this track across the continent of immence advantage to the fur trade, as all the furs collected in nine tenths of the most valuable fur country in America, may be conveyed to the mouth of the Columbia, and shipped from thence to the East Indies, by the first of August in each year; and will of course reach Canton earlier than the furs which are annually exported from Montreal arrive in Great Bri-Britain.

   In our outward bound voyage, we ascended to the foot of the rapids below the great falls of the Missouri, where we arrived on the 14th of June 1805. Not having met with any of the natives of the Rocky mountains, we were of course, ignorant of the passes by land, which existed, through those mountains to the Columbia river ; and had we even known the route, we were destitute of horses, which would have been indispensibly necessary to enable us to transport the requisite quantities of ammunition and other stores to ensure the remaining part of our voyage down the Columbia ; we therefore, determined to navigate the Missouri, as far as it was practicable, or unless we met with some of the natives from whom we could obtain horses and information of the country. Accordingly we undertook a most laborious portage at the falls of the Missouri, of 18 miles, which we effected with our canoes and baggage by the 3d of July. From hence ascending the Missouri, we penetrated the Rocky mountain at the distance of 71 miles above the upper part of the portage, and penetrated as far as the 3 forks of that river, a distance of 180 miles further. Here the Missouri divides into three nearly equal branches at the same point. The two largest branches are so nearly of the same dignity, that we did not conceive that either of them could with propriety retain the name of the Missouri ; and therefore called these streams Jefferson's, Madison's and Gallatin's rivers. The confluence of those rivers, is 2848 miles from the mouth of the Missouri, by the meanders of that river. We arrived at the 3 forks of the Missouri the 27th of July. Not having yet been so fortunate as to meet with the natives, although I had previously made several excursions for that purpose, we were compelled still to continue our route by water.

   The most northern of the three forks, that to which we had given the name of Jefferson's river was deemed the most proper for our purpose, and we accordingly ascended it 248 miles, to the upper forks, and its extreme navigable point, making the total distance to which we had navigate the waters ..."

"... grew sick on eating them; we were obliged therefore to have recourse to the flesh of horses and dogs, as food to supply the deficiency of our guns, which produced but little meat, as game was scarce in the vicinity of our camp on the Kooskooske, where we were compelled to remain in order to construct our perogues to descend the river. At this season the salmon are meagre and form but indifferent food. While we remained here I was myself sick for several days, and my friend captain Lewis suffered a severe indisposition.

   Having completed four perogues and a small canoe, we gave our horses in charge of the Pallotepallers until we returned, and on the 7th of October re-embarked for the Pacific ocean. We descended by the route I have already mentioned. The water of the river being low at this season, we experienced much difficulty in descending, we found it obstructed by a great number of difficult and dangerous rapids, in passing of which our perogues several times filled, and the men escaped narrowly with their lives. However this difficulty does not exist in high water, which happens within the period I have previously mentioned. ---- We found the natives extremely numerous, and generally friendly, though we have on several occasions owed our lives and the fate of the expedition to our number, which consisted of 31 men. On the 17th of November we reached the ocean, where various considerations induced us to spend the winter ; we therefore searched for an eligible situation for that purpose, and selected a spot on the south side of a little river called by the natives Netul, which discharges itself on the south side of the Columbia, and 14 miles within point Adams. Here we constructed some log houses, and defended them with a common stockade work ; this place we called fort Clatsop, after a nation of that name who were our nearest neighbors. In this country we found an abundance of elk, on which we subsisted principally during the last winter ; we left fort Clatsop on the 27th of March. On our homeward bound voyage, being much better acquainted with the country we were enabled to take such precautions as in a great measure secured us from the want of provisions at any time, and greatly lessened our fatigues, when compared with those to which we were compelled to submit in our outward bound journey. ---- We have not lost a man since we left the Mandans, a circumstance which I assure you is a pleasing consideration to me. As I shall shortly be with you, and the mail is now waiting, I deem it unnecessary here to attempt minutely to detail the occurrences of the last eighteen months.

   I am, &c.

      Your affectionate brother,

         Wm. CLARK.

Note: The entire text of this letter to William's brother Jonathan is available on pages 325-329 of Volume 1 of Jackson, Donald, ed. Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition; University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL; 1978; 2nd Edition.


Philadelphia, PA

The Aurora and General Advertiser newspaper was published in Philadelphia by William Duane. The paper was founded by Benjamin Franklin's grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache.


Aurora and General Advertiser:
In the Wednesday, July 1, 1807 issue of the Aurora and General Advertiser newspaper, the rear page has 4/5 of a column in the center of the page devoted to a prospectus of a book and map of Lewis and Clark's explorations to the Pacific that is to be published by Meriwether Lewis in the near future. The prospectus describes the content of the books and map and is signed in type "M. Lewis". The prospectus explains the 1st part will be published in 2 Volumes and the 2nd part will be published in 1 Volume and the map that will be published separately will measure 3' 10" by 5' 8".

July 1, 1807a AGA

July 1, 1807b AGA

July 1, 1807c AGA

Text of the portions shown ...


Performed by order of the Government of the U. States,
DURING THE YEARS 1804, 1805 & 1806.

THIS work will be prepared by Captain Meri-
wether Lewis, and will be divided into two parts,
the whole comprised in three volumes octavo, ...

From Longitude 9° west, to the Pacific Ocean,
and between 36° and 52° north Latitude, with
extensive Marginal Notes,
Dimensions five feet eight inches by three feet ten

   Embracing all their late discoveries, and that
part of the continent, heretofore the least known.
This Map will be compiled from the best maps
now extant, as well published as in manuscript,
from the collective information of the best infor- ...

   The price of part the first, in two volumes, will
be ten dollars, and that of part the second in one
volume, eleven dollars, delivered in boards--Price
of the Map, ten dollars
      Any person who may have subscribed for
these works, to lists which contained no stipula-
ted prices for the same, and who may be dissatis-
fied with the terms now proposed, are at liberty
to withdraw their names from such lists at any
time prior to the 1st day of December next.
            M. LEWIS
   June 15      tuf1m


Hartford, CT

Connecticut Courant:
On the front page of the CONNECTICUT COURANT dated July 31, 1805, is a lengthy report datelined "Frankfort, Ken." which begins: "Letters have been received from captains Lewis and Clark, by express sent by them to the commandant at St. Louis, with dispatches for the president of the United States. These enterprising young men set out from St. Louis in May, 1804 to ascend and explore the Missouri river to its source and from thence to proceed to the Pacific Ocean..." The article takes close to a full column.


Philadelphia, PA

National Gazette and Literary Register:
Philadelphia, PA., February 1, 1827.
Page 3, report From the Missouri Intelligencer - General:
Clark, one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the Choctaw and Chicasaw Indians, returned on Friday last to this place, after an absence of two months. The object of the mission was to affect the purchase of sixteen millions of acres of land lying in the States of Alabama and Mississippi, etc.


Boston, MA

Young & Minns published the New England Palladium newspaper in Boston.


New England Palladium:
April 1, 1803. Brief on page 2:
It is reported, that capt. Lewis, the president's private secretary, is about to proceed to our south-western frontier on political business.

New England Palladium:
In the Friday, September 23rd, 1803 issue is a brief article about Lewis and Clark preparing to leave on their expedition.
Sep. 23, 1803 NEP

Text of the article shown ...

LOUISIANA. - The Louisville paper of
The 25th ult. contains the following informa-
tion :- " An expedition is expected to leave
this place shortly, under the direction of
Capt. William Clark and Mr. Lewis, (pri-
vate secretary to the President), to proceed
through the immense wilderness of Louisiana,
to the Western of Pacific Ocean. The par-
ticular objects of this undertaking are at pre-
sent matters of conjecture only : But we have
good reason to believe that our government
intend to encourage settlements and estab-
lish sea-ports on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

New England Palladium:
In the issue dated November 25, 1803 is an article that mentions Lewis' pet project, the Iron Boat.

Nov. 25, 1803 NEP

Text of the article shown ...


Capt. Clark and Mr. Lewis left this
place on Wednesday last, on their expedition
to the Westward. We have not been enabled
to ascertain to what length this rout will ex-
tend, as when it was first set on foot by the
President, the Louisiana country was not ce-
ded to the U. S. and it is now likely it will
be considerably extended -- they are to receive
further instructions at Kahokia. It is, howe-
ver, certain that they will ascend the main
branch of the Missisippi as far as possible; and
it is probable they will then direct their course
to the Missouri, and ascend it. They have
the iron frame of a boat, intended to be cov-
ered with skins, which can, by screws, be for-
med into one or four, as may best suit their
purposes. About 60 men will compose the

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Old Newspaper Accounts Regarding Lewis and Clark
Compiled by: Jay Rasmussen

Posted: August 16, 1999
Updated: May 24, 2000

Send Questions, Comments and Corrections to Jay Rasmussen