Consequences Of The Lewis And Clark Expedition

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Lewis and Clark are known for completing a harrowing journey into the unknown regions of the United States and returning with a wealth of knowledge. The expedition proved to be a valuable asset in paving the way for western expansion in the United States. Unfortunately for the hundreds of thousands of Native Americans living in the West, the exploration spawned the notion of Manifest Destiny, a philosophy that American citizens were entitled to the land stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This belief prompted many Americans to travel west of the Mississippi River and establish the beginnings of the western region of the 48 contiguous states of present-day US. Although the Lewis and Clark expedition brought about the downfall …show more content…
The members of the expedition “unwittingly brought new diseases [smallpox] to the area that decimated the local native population. Where the Mandans had a thriving and sophisticated trading center when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1804, by the late 1830s their total population had been reduced to less than 150” (“Exploration: Lewis and Clark”). A comparison can be made between Christopher Columbus and the explorers as they both wiped out a significant portion of the Native American population, as many of them had not developed an immunity to the diseases. Additionally, many Native Americans were forced to convert to Christianity and take up farming. This eradicated the Native’s way of life, which was centered around their religion, traditions, and hunting-a method of gathering food and skins and proving oneself in the tribe. Some historians argue that the Lewis and Clark expeditions should not be regarded so highly as the explorers were not the first “non-Indians to explore the area, did not find an all-water route across the continent, and failed to publish their journals in a timely fashion” (Buckley, Jay H.). Despite not finding the Northwest-Passage, the expedition paved the way for the idea of Manifest Destiny-a 19th century belief that stated that Americans were destined …show more content…
The expedition accomplished its goals of creating and maintaining friendly relations between the Native Americans and the United States government, improving trade and discover new trading opportunities for fur traders, and successfully mapping the unknown region of the vast expanse of land. It also inspired many Americans to expand and migrate to the western regions of the country and although this migration led to the disintegration of many Native tribes and cultures, the exploration of the unknown lands was crucial to the growth of the nation. Plus, the journey would give rise to a several gold rushes, which would positively affected the United States’ economy and infrastructure as new towns, railroads, and businesses would be created. Had the expedition not occurred, the United States would not only be geographically different and have less information on the plants and animals inhabiting the western regions, but it would also have lost its Native American culture, a significant aspect of the nation’s

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