Co-captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark handpicked the members of the Corps of Discovery. They picked men who had skills that would be useful to the team throughout their adventures like carpentry, hunting, and even sign language skills. But not all of the members were men. In fact, not all were human. Read the short biographies of some of the Corps members below.

Captain Meriwether Lewis was asked by his old friend President Thomas Jefferson to lead the important expedition West. Lewis had a lot of military training, so he was strong and hardworking and used to leading other people. Lewis was especially good at noticing the details of plants and animals and using the limited tools available to navigate through this unfamiliar country. However, Lewis was often moody or depressed and sometimes he did things without thinking carefully.

 

Captain William Clark was invited by his friend Meriwether Lewis to be co-captain of the expedition. Clark was very tall, enthusiastic, and friendly towards new people. He drew careful maps of the fields, mountains, and rivers, and wrote in his journal about where they were and what they had discovered. However, he made lots of spelling and grammar errors because he had very little schooling.

 

Sacagawea was a young Shoshone Native American girl who was married to Toussaint Charbonneau. She helped the expedition a great deal by helping translate between Lewis and Clark and the Native American tribes they met along their journey. Even when she didn't speak the same language, her presence made other Native Americans more trusting of this group of white strangers. Sacagawea also pointed out edible plants when the expedition was hungry and occasionally guided Lewis and Clark when they were lost.

York was an enslaved man William Clark brought on the journey. At home in Kentucky, York was treated as a slave, but he was a highly valued member of the expedition team. York helped hunt buffalo and gather plants for food; tended to sick travelers; and even risked his life searching for Clark when he was lost in a storm.

Toussaint Charbonneau was a French Canadian fur trader who had lived among the Hidatsa Native Americans for many years and was married to Sacagawea. Lewis and Clark signed him on with the expedition as an interpreter, even though he was rather lazy and clumsy. However, he was an excellent cook!

Seaman was a big Newfoundland dog that Lewis brought with him. Seaman disliked the annoying mosquitoes and the limited food, but he enjoyed chasing the wild animals that the expedition encountered along the way. Once he even captured an antelope!


 

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Lewis and Clark's missions was to learn about the Native American tribes and make peace with them. Click here to add the Native American shirt to your specimen box or click here for a printable version.