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Sacagawea
(c.1788-1812)
Sacagawea was born c. 1788, in the Lemhi Valley, near present day Lemhi, Idaho. She probably died on December 20, 1812, in Fort Manuel, South Dakota. Some reports state Sacagawea died on April 9, 1884, at the Wind River Shoshone Reservation in Wyoming. This is a difference of 72 years!

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The Birth of the United States of America
During Sacagawea's life, the United States of America was a newly formed country.

From 1775 to 1781, the thirteen American colonies fought against England in the American Revolution. The colonies won the war and gained their independence.

The United States of America was formed. The first two presidents of the United States were George Washington and John Adams.

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The Louisiana Purchase
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States.

In 1803, President Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million. The Louisiana Territory stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. This purchase is known as the Louisiana Purchase.

Although $15 million was nearly two times the amount of the federal budget, it was a great purchase for the United States -- the U.S. acquired 820,000 square miles for $15 million or 3 cents per acre.

With one stroke of the pen, Jefferson doubled the size of the United States. Before the Louisiana Purchase, the United States consisted only of the land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. After the Louisiana Purchase, the United States expanded its western border to the Rocky Mountains. After California joined the Union in 1850, the United States stretched from "sea to shining sea."

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Northwest Passage
President Jefferson wanted to explore every part of the Louisiana Territory. He especially wanted to find a water passage across North America.
This water passage was referred to as the Northwest Passage.

If the Northwest Passage existed, a person could travel west from Europe to Asia entirely by water. The Spanish, French, and British had been searching for this water passage since Christopher Columbus sailed in 1492.

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The Lewis and Clark Expedition
The United States now owned the territory from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. This made it easier for the United States to explore this land.

In 1804, President Jefferson sent an expedition to find the Northwest Passage. This expedition was led by Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The official name of the expedition was the Corps of Discovery. The more common name is the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled up the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. They tried to find a water passage across this massive mountain range. However, no such water passage existed. These mountains could only be crossed on foot. This ended the search for a Northwest Passage.

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The Pacific Ocean
The Lewis and Clark Expedition continued towards the Pacific Ocean. They crossed the Rocky Mountains on foot and then followed the Clearwater and Columbia Rivers to the Pacific Ocean. The Expedition reached the Pacific Ocean in November, 1805.

They spent the winter of 1805-1806 on the Pacific Ocean at Fort Clatsop. The next spring, the Expedition returned east.

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The First Official Exploration
The Lewis and Clark Expedition was the first official exploration of the United States. It is considered one of the greatest explorations in the history of the United States.

The route taken by the Lewis and Clark Expedition became the basis of the Oregon Trail which was used by future pioneers traveling west.

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