Landon Y. Jones was the managing editor ofPeoplemagazine for eight years and wrote and edited forLife,Time,Money, andPeoplefor thirty-seven years. His books includeGreat Expectations: America and the Baby Boom GenerationandThe Essential Lewis and Clark. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and Bozeman, Montana
The Lewis and Clark expedition was one of the earliest crossings of the United States. Eager to expand the country, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis, formerly his private secretary, to seek a Northwest passage to the Orient. Lewis and his partner, William Clark, were both seasoned soldiers, expert woodsmen, and boatmen. They both kept journals and so did 4 sergeants and 1 private in the party of 43 men. They started from St. Louis in 1804, heading up to the Missouri River, across the Rockies, and down to the Pacific coast at the mouth of the Columbia River. The Indian woman Sacajawea ("Bird Woman") gave them valuable help on the hazardous journey, which lasted 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days, and cost the U.S. government a total of $38,722.25. Lewis was the better educated of the two captains, and his account has more force, but Clark was a superb observer who wrote in an ingenious phonetic spelling of his own invention. The official edition of the Journals did not appear until 1814, when they were edited in two volumes by Nicholas Biddle and Paul Allen. This text, a paraphrase of the journals, was used in various editions until 1904, when Reuben G. Thwaites edited an eight-volume edition, published in 1904--05. Many recent editions have followed the original text, making the journals available in all of their original freshness. Early in 1960 it was announced in the New York Times that 67 notes written by Clark had been given by Frederick W. Beinecke of New York to the Yale University Library. "The documents, finger-smudged, blotted and blurred with cross-outs, list personal observations previously unknown to historians. . . . The documents, consisting of old letters, envelopes and scraps of paper, were the subject of an unusual legal fight. After the Clark notes were found in an attic in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1952, the United States moved to obtain them. The Government contended the documents were part of the official records of Clark while he served the United States. The Federal Court of Appeals in St. Louis dismissed the suit on Jan. 23, 1958. The court test was closely watched by libraries, museums and the American Philosophical Society. Had the Government been upheld, the custody of similar historical documents would have been jeopardized. . . ." Shortly after the end of the expedition, Lewis was appointed governor of the Territory of Upper Louisiana. When he at last took up his post, he was mysteriously killed---or took his own life---in the lonely wilderness.