"NORTH OR SOUTH" was a moment of decision on the Missouri River. It forked and they had no idea which direction or fork to take. They ended up splitting up the expedition and look for the great falls. That would be on the Missouri and that's how they'd know which river to take. This bronze shows that moment of decision. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led the first United States expedition (1804--1806) to the Pacific Coast. Though Jefferson stated in one letter the goal was to find a "direct & practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce" (the Northwest Passage) the expedition actually had several goals. In order to make a firm claim of "discovery" to the Pacific Northwest and compete with the British for control of land and the fur trade, Jefferson had the men follow the rivers, map them, and collect scientific data. Jefferson also placed special importance on declaring U.S. sovereignty over the tribes along the Missouri River and getting an accurate sense of the resources in the Louisiana Purchase. Although the expedition did make notable achievements in science. scientific research itself was not the main goal behind the mission. References to Lewis and Clark "scarcely appeared" in history books even during the United States centennial in 1876 and the expedition was largely forgotten despite having had a significant impact on increasing American owned land.
Photos from today.