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MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, COMMUNI
CATING DISCOVERIES MADE IN EXPLORING THE MISSOURI, RED RIVER, AND WASHITA, BY CAPTAINS LEWIS AND CLARK, DR. SIBLEY, AND MR. DUNBAR, WITH A STATISTICAL ACCOUNT OF THE COUN. TRIES ADJACENT.
To the Senate and House of Reprefen.
tatives of the United States. IN purfuance of a measure proposed to Congress by a message of January 18th, 1803, and sanctioned by their appropriation for carrying it into execu. tion, captain Meriwether Lewis, of the first regiment of infantry, was appointed, with a party of men, to explore the river Missouri, from its month to its source, and, croffing the highlands by the shortest portage, to seek the best water cominunication thence to the Pacific occan ; and lieutenant Clarke was appointed fecond in command. They were to enter into conference with the Indian nations on their route, with a view to the establishment of commerce with them. They entered the Missouri, May 14th, 1804, and on the first of November took up their winter quarters near the Mindan towns, 1609 miles above the mouth of the river, in latitude 47 deg. 21 min. 47 fec. north, and longitude 99 deg. 24 min. 45 sec. weft from Greenwich. On the 8th of April, 1805, they proceeded up the river in pursuance of the objects prescribed to them. A letter of the preceding day, April 7, from captain Lewis, is herewith communicated. During his stay arnong the Mandans, he had been able to lay down the Misfouri, according to courfes and distances taken on his passage up it, corrected by frequent obfervations of longitude and latitude ; and to add to the actual survey of this portion of the river, a general map of the country between the Miffifippi and Pacific, from the 345h to the 54th degrees of latitude. These additions are from information cullected from Indians with whom he had opportunities of communicating, dur: ing his journey and residence with them. Copies of this map are now prefented to both houses of Congreis. With these I communicate also a statinis cal view, procured and forwarded by him, of the Indian nations inhabiting the territory of Louisiana, and the countries adjacent to its northern and wef. ern borders ; of their commerce, and of other interesting circumstances ref Pecting them.
In order to render the statement as complete as may be, of the Indians inhabiting the country west of the Mislilippi, I add doctor Sibley's account of those residing in and adjacent to the territory of Orleans.
I communicate also, from the same perfon, an account of the Red river, according to the best information he had been able to collect.
Having been disappointed, after confiderable preparation, in tbe purpose of sending an exploring party up that river, in the summer of 1804, it was thought best to employ the autuinn of that year in procuring a knowledge of an interesting branch of the river called the Walhita. This was undertaken under the direction of Mr. Dunbar, of Natchez, a citizen of diftinguished science, who had aided, and continues to aid us, with his difinterefted and valuable services in the prosecution of these enterprizes. He ascended the river to the remarkable hot springs near it, in latitude 34 deg. 31 min. 4 sec. 16, longitude 92 deg. so min. 45 sec. west from Greenwich, taking its courfes and distances, and correcting them by frequent celestial obfervations. Extracts from his observations, and copies of his map of the river, from its mouth to the hot fprings, make part of the present communications. The examination of the Red river itself is but now commencing.
TH: JEFFERS ON. February, 19, 1806.
Extra& of a letter from Captain Meriwether Lewis to the President of the
United States, dated
FORT MANDAN, April, 17th, 1803. Dear Sir, HEREWITH enclosed you will receive an invoice of certain articles, which I have forwarded to you from this place. Among other articles you will observe, by reference to the invoice, 67 specimens of earths, falts, and minerals, and 60 specimens of plants ; these are accompanied by their respective labels, exprefling the days on which obtained, places where found, and also their virtues and properties, when known. By means of these labels, reference may be made to the chart of the Missouri, forwarded to the secretary of war, on which the encampment of each day has been carefully marked : thus the places at which these specimens have been obtained, may be easily pointed out, or again found, mould any of them prove valuable to the comin unity on further investigation.
You will also receive herewith enclosed, a part of capt. Clarke's private journal; the other part you will find enclosed in a separate tin box. This journal will serve to give you the daily details of our progress and tranfac. tions.
I shall dispatch a canoe with three perhaps four persons from the extreme navigable point of the Miflouri, or the portage between this river and the Columbia river, as either may first happen. By the return of this canoe, I Shall fend you my journal, and some one or two of the best of thosc kept by my men. I have sent a journal kept by one of the sergeants, to captain Stod. dard, my agent at St.Louis, in order as much as poflible to multiply the chao. ces of saving something. We have encouraged our men to keep journals, and leven of them do, to whom in this respect we give every alfistance in our power.
I have transmitted to the secretary at war every information relative to the geography of the country which we poffefs, together with a view of the Indian nations, containing information relative to them, on those points with which I conceived it important that the government should be informed.
By reference to the muster rolls forwarded to the war department, you will see the state of the party ; in addition to which we have two interpreters, one negro man, servant to capt. Clarke ; one Indian woman, wife to one of the interpreters, and a Mandan man, whom we take with a view to restore peace
between the Snake Indians, and those in this neighborhood, amounting in to. tal with ourselves 10 33 persons. By means of the interpreters and Indians, we shall be enabled to converse with all the Indians that we shall probably meet with on the Missouri.
I have forwarded to the secretary at war my public accounts, rendered up to the present day. They have been much longer delayed than I had any idea they would have been, when we departed from the Illinois ; but this de Jay, under the circumstances which I was compelled to act, has been unavoid. able. The provision peroque and her crew, could not have been dismissed in time to have returned to St. Louis last fall, without evidently, in my opinion, hazarding the fate of the enterprize in wbich I am engaged ; and I therefore did not hesitate to prefer the censure that I may have incurred by the detention of these papers, to that of risking in any degree the success of the expe. dition. To me the detention of these papers has formed a serious source of disquiet and anxiety; and the recollection of your particular charge to me on this subjcct, has made it still more poignant. I am fully aware of the incon. venience which mus: have arisen to the war department, from the want of these vouchers, previous to the last session of congress, but how to avert it was out of my power to devise.
From this place we shall send the barge and crew early to-morrow morning, with orders to proceed as expeditiously as possible to St. Louis ; by her we send our dispatches, which I trust will get safe to hand. Her crew consists of ten able baslied men, well armed and provided with a sufficient stock of provision to last them to St. Louis. I have but little doubt but they will be fired on by the Siouxs ; but they have pledged themselves to us that they will not yield while there is a man of them living. Our baggage is all embarked on board six small canoes, and two peroques; we shall set out at the same mo. ment that we dispatch the barge. One, or perhaps both of these peroques, we shall leave at the falls of the Missouri, from whence we intend continuing our voyage in the canoes, and a peroqué of skins, the frame of which was prenared at Harper's ferry. This péroque is now in a situation which will enable us to prepare it in the course of a few hours. As our vessels are now small, and the current of the river much more moderate, we calculate upon travelling at the rate of 20 or 25 miles per day, as far as the falls of the Missouri. Beyond this point, or the first range of rocky mountains, situated about 100 miles further, any calculation with respect to our daily progress, can be little more than bare conjecture. The circumstance of the Snake Indians possessing large quantities of horses, is much in our favour, as by means of horses the transportation of our baggage will be rendered easy and expeditious over land, from the Missouri to the Columbia river. Should this river not prove naviga. ble where we first meet with it, our present intention is, to continue our march .by land down the river, until it becomes so, or to the Pacific ocean. The map, which has been forwarded to the secretary of war, will give you the idea we entertain of the connection of these rivers, which has been formed from the corresponding testimony of a number of Indians, who have visited that country, and who have been separately and carefully examined on that subject, and we therefore think it entitled to some degree of confidence. Since our arrival at this place, we have subsisted principally on meat, with which our guns have supplied us amply, and have thus been enabled to reserve the parched meal, portable soup, and a considerable proportion of pork and flour, which we had intended for the more difficult parts of our voyage. If Indian information can be credited, the vast quantity of game with which the country abounds through which we are to pass, leaves us but little to apprehend from the want of food. • We do not calculate on completing our voyage within the present year, but expect to reach the Pacific ocean, and return as far as the head of the Missouri, or perhaps to this place, before winter. You may therefore expect me to meet you at Monticello in September, 1806. On our return we shall probably pass down the Yellow Stone river, which, from Indian information, waters one of the fairest portions of this continent.