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part ii Legacies Map 3. A new map of Texas, Oregon, and California: with the regions adjoining. Compiled from the Most Recent Authorities. Philadelphia: S. Augustus Mitchell, 1846. (Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division) In terms of acquisition, incorporation, and the administration of peoples and territories, this odd mix of imaginary geography, jingoism, and geopolitical reality amply illustrates the unsettled legacies of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Here, the American West is made up of six huge geographic entities: Texas, Iowa Territory, Missouri Territory, Indian Territory, Upper or New California, and Oregon—which extends to latitude 54⬘40⬙. References to Indian tribes have completely disappeared, except for the carefully delineated lines of new reservations in Indian Territory that have been set aside for tribes removed from the East. This conglomerate of newly conquered lands and loosely administered territories is visually stitched together by the tracings of various routes across the map, namely the explorations of Lewis and Clark and John C. Frémont, as well as the overland commercial routes to Santa Fe and the California coast. T he Lewis and Clark expedition is almost universally described as the greatest and most successful exercise in overland exploration ever attempted . Even today, it is hard to conceive how one might organize thirty-five to forty-five individuals to cross the continent by foot, horseback, and small watercraft, then return by similar routes and modes of travel. Trying to accomplish the same feat in the early nineteenth century, and lose only one person to an inoperable case of appendicitis, truly boggles the imagination. Of course, the completion of this transcontinental journey depended on the assistance of Native peoples—who themselves were quite capable of covering vast distances in a relatively short time. The success of the expedition was not a simple matter of miles traveled, mountains crossed, or mosquitoes tolerated, nor should its significance be assessed in terms of persistence or assistance. Rather, the successes of Lewis and Clark, as with any enterprise of similar magnitude, are best measured in terms of their historical consequences. The first two essays in this section, both by legal scholars, examine the immediate and ongoing legacies of Thomas Jefferson’s Corps of Discovery. The consequences of the Louisiana Purchase and the subsequent expedition of Lewis and Clark had far-reaching constitutional implications that raised fundamental questions about slavery, the legality of territorial expansion , and the nature of the federal public domain. The explicit objectives of the expedition also left a series of disturbing legacies in its wake. For the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara peoples of the upper Missouri River, who occupied a central place in the commercial, diplomatic, and geographic designs of Jefferson and the two captains, the past two centuries have been an epic struggle to regain the strength and autonomy they possessed at the time of their encounter with Lewis and Clark. Together, these two essays force us to broaden the contexts in which we understand the expedition and remind us of its direct and lasting significance on subsequent generations . The third essay extends our understanding of the significance of the expedition in terms that are too easily forgotten. To the degree that Lewis and Clark set out on a “literary enterprise,” scholars have largely regarded their efforts as a failure—yet the expedition had an immediate and lasting effect within learned circles. This page intentionally left blank ...


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