chapter
46 Pages

Essays

Until 1804, when Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their journey up the Missouri River on President Thomas Jefferson’s quest for the Pacific Ocean, America’s first “West” consisted of the vast region lying east of the Mississippi River, west of the Appalachian Mountains, and south of the Great Lakes. Three centuries before, the Spanishnotably De Soto-had floated down the Mississippi, and, a century later, French voyageurs, missionaries, and explorers canoed the river’s tributaries from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, naming the land through which the mighty stream coursed Louisiana, to honor their sovereign, Louis XIV. For the English, after the establishment of Jamestown (1607) and Plymouth (1620), the New Eden beyond the Tidewater and Piedmont beckoned, igniting explorations across the Appalachians that led to Indian dispossession, four distinct “French and Indian Wars,” numerous intertribal wars, and America’s Revolution.