One year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition leaves St. Louis, Missouri, on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.
Even before the U.S. government concluded purchase negotiations with France, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned his private secretary Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, an army captain, to lead an expedition into what is now the U.S. Northwest. On May 14, the “Corps of Discovery”—featuring approximately 45 men (although only an approximate 33 men would make the full journey)—left St. Louis for the American interior.
The expedition traveled up the Missouri River in a 55-foot long keelboat and two smaller boats. In November, Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader accompanied by his young Native American wife Sacagawea, joined the expedition as an interpreter. The group wintered in present-day North Dakotabefore crossing into present-day Montana, where they first saw the Rocky Mountains. On the other side of the Continental Divide, they were met by Sacagawea’s tribe, the Shoshone Indians, who sold them horses for their journey down through the Bitterroot Mountains. After passing through the dangerous rapids of the Clearwater and Snake rivers in canoes, the explorers reached the calm of the Columbia River, which led them to the sea. On November 8, 1805, the expedition arrived at the Pacific Ocean. After pausing there for the winter, the explorers began their long journey back to St. Louis.
On September 23, 1806, after almost two and a half years, the expedition returned to the city, bringing back a wealth of information about the region (much of it already inhabited by Native Americans), as well as valuable U.S. claims to OregonTerritory.
Today in History —> It was this day in 1959 that became “the day the music died,” as rock musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. Waylon Jennings was also on the tour, and it’s likely that he gave up his seat to The Big Bopper at the last moment. The crash is of course was immortalized in the song “American Pie” by Don McLean.
Today in “sports” history —> On this day in 1925, diphtheria serum was carried by dogsled to Nome, Alaska in the famous 5.5-day Serum run to Nome. This inspired the Iditarod race which is still run today.
Today in weird history —> On January 18, 1884 Dr. William Price attempts to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom. Price, a Welshman, was an interesting character in many ways. He adopted the Druid “religion” for many years; here he is onstage in 1884 wearing Druidic attire. At the time he cremated his infant son, cremation was illegal in England, but his action helped change the law…
Today in Museum History —> On this day in 2008 – The Euphronios Krater is unveiled in Rome after being returned to Italy by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Here’s a picture of that beautiful Greek vase, created by Euphronios about 515 B.C.
The Euphronios Krater (or Sarpedon Krater) is an ancient Greek terra cotta calyx-krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios and is considered one of the finest Greek vase artifacts in existence. Part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972 to 2008, the vase was repatriated to Italy under an agreement negotiated in February 2006, and it is now in the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Cerveteri as part of a strategy of returning stolen works of art to their place of origin
Today in Holocaust History –> On this day 17 January 1945, Righteous Among the Nations, Raoul Wallenberg was taken away by Russian soldiers. He was never seen again.
Just prior to the Soviet army entering Budapest, Wallenberg said to his colleague in the Swedish embassy:
“I’ve taken on this assignment, and I will never be able to go back to Stockholm without knowing … that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible”.
~ Raoul Wallenberg, Righteous Among the Nations
Raoul Wallenberg was sent to Budapest in 1944 to rescue Jews with connections to Sweden. He arrived with a list of Jews whom he was to help and 650 protective passports. However, he quickly widened the scope of his efforts by issuing 1000’s of “protective letters” and setting up a network of protective houses for Jews .
As the situation in Hungary deteriorated, Wallenberg abandoned all diplomatic protocol and attempted to rescue as many Jews as he could at great risk to himself.
Wallenberg used unconventional methods, including bribery and blackmail, to finance and run his huge rescue operation, successfully saving thousands of Jews. When Adolf Eichmann ordered a “death march” of tens of thousands of persons to the Austrian border, Wallenberg followed the marchers in their vehicles, and distributed food, clothing, and medications. He was able to free Jews from the death march by claiming that they were his “protected” Jews.
In 1956, 11 years after his disappearance, the Soviets finally stated that Raoul Wallenberg had died in prison in 1947.
In 1963 Yad Vashem recognized Raoul Wallenberg as Righteous Among the Nations.
Today in History —> On this day in 1870 – A political cartoon for the first time symbolizes the Democratic Party with a donkey (“A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly).
Here’s the cartoon. Andrew Jackson’s enemies twisted his name to “jackass” as a term of ridicule regarding a stupid and stubborn animal. However, the Democrats liked the common-man implications and picked it up too, therefore the image persisted and evolved.