In the spring of 1803, U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson dispatched his secretary, Army Captain Meriwether Lewis, on an intelligence and diplomatic mission to the Louisiana Territory. The Missouri River watershed defined this territory as lying roughly between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountain crest.
President Jefferson had a personal interest in exploring the Missouri River as a possible direct trade route to Asian markets and a wealth of resources to enhance the lives for many generations of Americans.
Jefferson's passion for learning about the Louisiana Territory can be seen by the long list of tasks and observations he charged Lewis to conduct. Below the bust of Jefferson, you can see a small sample of what he wanted to know. Following the ideals of the "Age of Reason", the President believed that lives could be improved by striving to learn more about the world, rather than through an aimless pursuit of personal riches.