The first work to provide a real accounting of the southwestern portion of the Louisiana Purchase, and the first official publication with detailed information of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The first section contains material which Meriweather Lewis communicated to Thomas Jefferson, and discussed their route, trade, the Indians encountered, the flora and fauna, and, of course, the geography of the land. The map, by Nicholas King, who is also supposed to have prepared this material for publication, was of the lower trans-Mississippi, drawn from Dunbar's survey, and is found in only a few copies (here in facsimile). The Sibley-Dunbar descriptions of the Texas-Louisiana frontier gave the first formal and satisfactory picture of the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase. Streeter notes that ""Two letters by Dr. Sibley..one on the Indian tribes of Texas and the other an account of the Red River and the adjacent country (see preceding lot), seem to be the first accounts of Texas in book form.""
The official leader of the epic Lewis and Clark Expedition, Meriwether Lewis has been called ""undoubtedly the greatest pathfinder this country has ever known."" Meriwether Lewis was born August 18, 1774, near Charlottesville, Virginia, and was a boyhood neighbor of Thomas Jefferson. In 1794, Lewis joined the militia and, at the rank of Ensign, was attached to a sublegion of General ""Mad Anthony"" Wayne commanded by Lieutenant William Clark.
As he made arrangements for the Expedition, Lewis concluded it would be desirable to have a co-commander. With Jefferson's consent, he offered the assignment to his friend and former commanding officer, William Clark also a native Virginian, born August 1, 1770, and thus 4 years older than Lewis.
Their relationship ranks high in the realm of notable human associations. It was a rare example of two men of noble heart and conscience sharing responsibilities for the conduct of a dangerous enterprise without ever losing each other's respect or loyalty. Despite frequent stress, hardships, and other conditions that could easily have bred jealousy, mistrust or contempt, they proved to be self-effacing brothers in command and leadership. During their long journey, there is not a single trace of a serious quarrel or dispute between them.
After the Expedition, Lewis was appointed Governor of the Louisiana Territory; Clark was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed to the Superintendency of Indian Affairs. Lewis, at age 35, died tragically and mysteriously on October 11, 1809, just three years after the Expedition. Clark lived a long and productive life in St. Louis, dying September 1 1838, at age 68. In deserved tribute, both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are recognized members of that generation of our young nation's heroes who launched within themselves a drive of nationalistic vision and patriotic will that would form the spirit and richness of American history itself.
The bountiful store of intelligence Lewis and Clark accumulated held far-reaching implications for the future of the new nation, both scientifically and politically. Many of its details, however, such as the natural history discoveries, didn't fully come to light until a century later, when the original journals were edited and published by Reuben Gold Thwaites. The completion of an accurate map of their route based on coordinates derived from the explorers' celestial observations, which was another of Jefferson's primary objectives, was not realized during his lifetime.
However, the expedition did have one major outcome that was made available to the public well before the expedition was over. That was the ""Estimate of the Eastern Indians,"" which Lewis and Clark compiled during the winter of 1804-05 and sent back on the keelboat that left Fort Mandan for St. Louis on April 7. Retitled ""A Statistical View of the Indian Nations Inhabiting the Territory of Louisiana and the Countries Adjacent to its Northern and Western Boundaries,"" it officially became a public document on February 19, 1806, when Jefferson made it part of his annual Report to Congress, seven months before the Corps got back. At the request of Congress, a thousand copies were printed the following month -(Howes, LewisClark.net). [Wagner 5:1. Sabin 40826. Howes L 319].