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EXPLORATIONS - February 26, 2003: Lewis and Clark - 2003-02-25


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VOICE ONE:

I’m Mary Tillotson.

VOICE TWO:

And I’m Steve Ember with the Special English program Explorations. Today we begin a series of four programs that celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the most famous exploration in the history of the United States. The trip is still known by the names of the two men who led the group -- Lewis and Clark.

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VOICE ONE:

Today, it is possible to drive an automobile from Saint Louis, Missouri to Astoria, Oregon and back again in a few days. It is easy to drive using the Interstate highway system.

That same trip took Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the members of their group two years, four months and nine days. They left Saint Louis on May fourteenth, eighteen-oh-four and arrived back in the city on September twenty-third, eighteen-oh-six. They traveled almost thirteen-thousand kilometers.

VOICE TWO:

Today, a trip across the United States really takes very little planning. You can buy airplane tickets. Or you can buy a few maps that show the Interstate highway system, get in your car and go. Two hundred years ago, however, such a trip was extremely dangerous. It took months of planning. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led a group of more than thirty people into huge areas of land that had never been explored.

They left on this exploration from the city of Saint Louis, on the Missouri River. Today, Saint Louis is a huge modern city. The day Lewis and Clark left on the exploration, Saint Louis was the end of civilization. No one knew what lay ahead. They did not know what kind of animals they would see. They did not know if there were tall mountains or huge rivers. However, they did know that they might see fierce Indian tribes.

VOICE ONE:

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were the first educated white Americans to travel across the land that would become the United States. History experts today say the Lewis and Clark trip was one of the most important events in American history. They also agree that no two men could have done a better job or been more successful.

The two men added greatly to the knowledge of the American northwest. Clark’s maps provided information about huge areas that had been unknown.

VOICE TWO:

William Clark drew excellent maps. Meriwether Lewis wrote about the birds, fish and animals the group observed. He described about one-hundred different kinds of animals. Of these, eleven birds, two fish and eleven mammals had not been recorded before. Lewis also wrote about plants and trees that scientists had never seen.

Modern scientists say his information is still good. They say Lewis was extremely careful and provided valuable information for the time. They say he wrote more like a scientist of today than one of his own century.

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VOICE ONE:

On January eighteenth, eighteen-oh-three, President Thomas Jefferson asked Congress for the money to pay for a group of explorers to travel to the Pacific Ocean. On the two-hundredth anniversary of that day, the United States began celebrating the Lewis and Clark journey.

The celebration took place where the idea for the famous trip may have begun – at the famous home of President Thomas Jefferson called Monticello. It is near the city of Charlottesville, Virginia. More than three-thousand-five hundred people attended the celebration. They included more than two-hundred American Indians representing more than forty tribes.

VOICE TWO:

The celebration was called “Jefferson’s West: A Lewis and Clark Exposition.” It included a six-day series of talks, demonstrations, performances and social events at Monticello. Events were also held at the University of Virginia and other places near Charlottesville. The celebration included a special display of objects connected to the Lewis and Clark exploration. These objects can be seen at Monticello during the next year.

These objects include pieces from Monticello’s collections, objects on loan from other institutions and objects made by modern American Indian artists. Many were collected by the members of the Lewis and Clark expedition and brought back to President Jefferson.

VOICE ONE:

Recently, President George Bush signed a special document announcing the two-hundredth-anniversary celebration of the Lewis and Clark exploration. President Bush asked all Americans to observe the event with special activities that honor the work of Lewis and Clark. He also directed federal agencies to cooperate with each other, the states and American Indian tribes to tell the story of Lewis and Clark.

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VOICE TWO:

It is impossible to list all the events that will honor the work of Lewis and Clark. The explorers passed through many areas that became large cities or small towns. Most of these cities and towns have planned events to observe the anniversary. One of the largest will take place in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Lewis and Clark began their exploration from that city. Only three months before the exploration began, the United States had bought a huge area of land from France and Spain. That area of land was called the Louisiana Purchase.

The two-hundredth anniversary of that event will also be observed in Saint Louis. The king of Spain, the president of France and the president of the United States have been invited to the celebration. So have the governors of those states created out of the area of land bought in the Louisiana Purchase.

VOICE ONE:

Another special event will be held near the city of Greenwood, South Dakota. Lewis and Clark first met the members of the Yankton Sioux Indian tribe near this place. Members of the modern Yankton Sioux will provide many special events that show their tribe’s culture and arts. Members of the tribe will tell visitors about their history.

VOICE TWO:

When Lewis and Clark reached an area that is now called Great Falls in the state of Montana, they had to carry their boats for many kilometers over land.

This event will be celebrated in modern Great Falls, Montana with thirty-four days of special events. The events begin on June first, two-thousand-five. One of the events will be a Plains Indian Culture Day with American Indian arts, singing, and dancing. Experts in a traditional Indian Village will talk about Lewis and Clark.

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VOICE ONE:

Both Lewis and Clark wrote about the trip every day in books called journals. On November seventh, eighteen-oh-five, Lewis and Clark and their group were traveling down the great Columbia River. That day, William Clark wrote in his journal: “Ocean in View…Oh the Joy!” The group had reached the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River now separates the states of Washington and Oregon. The group landed first on what would become the Washington state side of the river. Here, they voted to cross over to what became the state of Oregon.

A few kilometers from the great river they built a small group of buildings. They would live there for the winter. They named it Fort Clatsop. A copy of the little buildings the group used is now the Fort Clatsop National Memorial. The little fort will hold special events during the anniversary celebrations. The buildings are near the city of Astoria, Oregon. Visitors can see how the Lewis and Clark group lived during the time they spent there.

There will also be ceremonies to observe new memorials to the Lewis and Clark expedition near Fort Clatsop. A number of special events are planned beginning November twenty-fourth, two-thousand-five.

VOICE TWO:

On September twenty-third, eighteen-oh-six, the Lewis and Clark exploration ended where it began in Saint Louis, Missouri. The National Park Service and a special commission of the states of Missouri and Illinois will recreate the arrival of Lewis and Clark in Saint Louis.

There will be special programs at the place the group landed. The president of the United States will be invited to attend the ceremonies.

VOICE ONE:

Between now and two-thousand-six, many newspaper and magazine stories will be written about Lewis and Clark. New books have already been published and are popular.

If you have a computer that can link with the Internet, you too can take part in observing the two-hundredth anniversary of this famous exploration. Many areas on the Internet now celebrate the trip. Ask your computer to search for Lewis and Clark. L-E-W-I-S and C-L-A-R-K.

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VOICE TWO:

This program was written and produced by Paul Thompson. I’m Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I’m Mary Tillotson. Join us again next week as we tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of the American Northwest on EXPLORATIONS, a program in Special English on the Voice of America.

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