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!
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.
In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the
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."
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.
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
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.
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
The route taken by the Lewis and Clark
Expedition became the basis of the Oregon Trail which was
used by future pioneers traveling west.