cache 470 320 0 50 92 16777215 0814172 Im Lewis and Clark Expedition, The

Defining Moments

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

  • Author/Editor: Laurie Collier Hillstrom
  • Binding: Library binding
  • Trim Size: 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • Page Count: 240
  • Book Level:
  • Publication Date: October 2015
  • ISBN: 978-0-7808-1417-2
  • List Price: $60.00
  • Sample Pages
  • Printable Information Sheet

Web Price: $54.00

Defining Moments: The Lewis and Clark Expedition provides a detailed account of the epic journey through the unknown western wilderness undertaken by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and their Corps of Discovery in 1804-1806. It begins by chronicling President Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to wrest control of the vast Louisiana Territory from France and his determination to mount an expedition to map the region and catalog its flora, fauna, and Native American inhabitants. It then offers a detailed description of the explorers’ struggles, triumphs, and discoveries as they make their way across the rugged continent and finally reach the Pacific Ocean. It then discusses how the successful expedition served as a milestone in opening the American West for settlement—at the expense of the Native American cultures encountered by Lewis and Clark. The volume concludes by examining the legacy of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in American history and imagination. The volume is organized into three distinct sections—Narrative Overview, Biographies, and Primary Sources—which offer a one-stop resource for student research.

  • The Narrative Overview section provides a detailed, factual account of the events leading up to the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the issues that arose during the journey, and its legacy in American society
  • The Biographies section presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition
  • The Primary Sources section collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era, including official documents, first-hand accounts, memoirs, and other important works

Other notable features include a glossary of important people, places, and terms; a detailed chronology featuring page references to relevant sections of the narrative; an annotated listing of selected sources for further study; an extensive general bibliography; and a subject index.

Standard Features

  • Library binding, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4
  • 240 pages
  • 30-40 photographs and other illustrations
  • Narrative Overview section: Provides a detailed, factual account of the “defining moment”
  • Biographies section: Presents valuable biographical background on leading figures associated with the event
  • Primary Sources section: Collects a wide variety of pertinent primary source materials from the era
  • Research Topics: Proposes a list of topics suitable for conducting historical research and writing reports, a valuable starting point for student research
  • Source Attribution: Contains references for primary sources and other quoted material that guide users to other historical research resources
  • Glossary of Important People, Places, and Terms: Gives brief definitions for the many terms used in the book
  • Chronology: Highlights the related events in chronological order, along with “see” references that direct the reader to pages in the narrative with additional information
  • Sources for Further Study: Provides annotated citations for selected sources that are most useful to students
  • Bibliography: Lists books, periodicals, web sites, and videos consulted in preparing the volume
  • Subject Index: Includes people, places, organizations, events, and other topics

Research Topics

Each volume in the Defining Moments series covers a wide range of topics that students can use as starting points for further research. Potential research topics for Defining Moments: The Lewis and Clark Expedition are below:

  • What value did President Thomas Jefferson see in acquiring the Louisiana Territory and organizing the Lewis and Clark Expedition? Did he pursue westward expansion and exploration for the sake of the country, or to satisfy his own intellectual curiosity?
  • Read the instructions Jefferson sent to Captain Meriwether Lewis. Make a list of the major goals the president established for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Discuss which ones the Corps of Discovery was most and least successful in accomplishing.
  • Imagine that it is 1803 and Jefferson has invited you to lead an expedition into the unknown western wilderness. Make a list of the equipment and supplies you would consider most essential to bring along. Compare your list to the one Lewis compiled prior to launching the expedition.
  • Pick a region that Lewis and Clark explored on their journey, such as the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, or the Pacific Coast. Make a list of the main geographical features, climate, plants, animals, and Native American cultures the expedition encountered there. What do you think the explorers found most and least surprising about that region?
  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition faced many challenges on their journey, from homesickness, hunger, and exhaustion to extreme weather, wild animals, and difficult terrain. Which ones did they struggle with the most? If you had been a member of the Corps of Discovery, which would have been the toughest for you to endure?
  • Discuss the ways in which Sacagawea contributed to the success of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Make a list of the forms of assistance the Corps of Discovery received from other Native Americans they encountered. What would have happened to the explorers if they had been forced to survive on their own?
  • Pick an American Indian nation that helped Lewis and Clark, such as the Mandan, Shoshone, or Nez Perce peoples. Write a report detailing what happened to them in the decades after they met the explorers, and provide information about their current status.
  • Discuss the various “discoveries” made by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Considering that Native Americans had lived in the West for generations before the explorers arrived—and the region’s geography, plants, and animals were familiar to them—did the Corps of Discovery deserve its name?
  • Explore Thomas Jefferson’s attitude toward Native Americans, as shown in his confidential message to Congress, his instructions to Lewis, and his speech to the delegation of Indian leaders. To what extent did the U.S. government’s treatment of Native Americans over the next few decades reflect Jefferson’s attitudes? To what extent did it betray the promises Jefferson made?
  • Define the term “manifest destiny” and discuss how the idea was made evident in the United States during the 1800s. Are the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition examples of manifest destiny? Is the idea still relevant in the United States today?
  • Imagine that you have been ordered to explore and catalog the area around your home. Create a journal describing some of the plants and animals that are native to the area, including their formal scientific names, appearance, behavior, and habitat. If you had to prepare a pack- age containing representative samples for someone who was unfamiliar with the region, what would you include?
  • Visit a location on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Write a description of how the landscape appears today and compare it to the descriptions in the explorers’ journals. In what ways has it changed? How do these changes reflect larger changes that have occurred in American society?
  • Discuss the legacy of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and explore the relevance this episode in U.S. history holds for Americans today.


“Brings together the most essential information regarding the courageous Lewis and Clark Expedition and conveys it all in a variety of intelligent, focused ways. Arranging the book into three well-delineated sections provides readers with easy access to this rich and engaging history. … This Defining Moments title is sure to engage readers in the fascinating historical topic at hand.”

—American Reference Books Annual, 2016

“The Lewis and Clark expedition, aided by the legendary Sacajawea, is a well-covered topic in history, but this volume in the Defining Moments series still manages to add interesting details. … A quality resource for both the media center and the classroom.”

—Booklist Online, April 2016