Lewis and Clark

Discovery Begins

Discovery Begins
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.49

     challenging words:    co-commander, well-equipped, east-west, rough-hewn, zoology, dealt, nation, command, lieutenant, expedition, whom, refinement, civilization, waterway, contribute, keelboat
     content words:    Thomas Jefferson, United States, Great Lakes, Atlantic Ocean, Mississippi River, Northwest Passage, Pacific Ocean, Louisiana Territory, New Orleans, Much U. S.

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Discovery Begins
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became president of a young nation. The United States stretched from the Great Lakes nearly to the Gulf of Mexico. The Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River formed its east-west borders. Most of its 5,300,000 people lived in cities near the Atlantic Ocean.
2     Jefferson had long dreamed of exploring the vast land on the other side of the Mississippi. Everything about the unknown land fascinated Jefferson. He wanted to know what new plants and animals could be found. He wanted information about the native peoples who lived there. Would the land be good for farming? What other resources could it offer the growing nation? Was the Northwest Passage hidden somewhere beyond the forests and mountains? Many people believed in this water route to the Pacific Ocean, although none had ever seen it. Jefferson knew that if the U.S. owned such a route, it would control trade over the entire continent.
3     Jefferson saw the whole territory as a treasure waiting to be discovered. He asked Congress for funds to send a troop of explorers into the region. Twenty-five hundred dollars was set aside to begin the expedition.
4     Meanwhile, other nations wanted to snap up the prize beyond the Mississippi. Britain had sent men to the Northwest to claim the Pacific coast for England. Explorers from France and Spain already claimed parts of the big chunk of land west of U.S. borders. This region, known as the Louisiana Territory, included the busy port city of New Orleans. Much U.S. trade moved through this port.
5     Such an important city in the hands of a foreign power alarmed Jefferson. He sent men to France with an offer to buy New Orleans. While the talks were in progress, the United States received a startling offer from Napoleon, Emperor of France. For fifteen million dollars, France would sell the entire Louisiana Territory.

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Lewis and Clark

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