Read the article "The Mapping of the West" with the
class. Then re-read the following passage: "Besides mapping the land, Lewis was to acquaint himself
in detail with the native inhabitants of the territory, as well as the
soil and terrain, animal and plant life, mineral resources, and
climate. Jefferson anticipated that, as time went on, the nation would
need more space for expansion, especially for agriculture. He wanted a
better understanding of the potential of Louisiana for meeting that
As a large group, make a list of reasons Jefferson may have had
for expansion into the Louisiana Territory.
Discuss what resources may be helpful to a successful expansion
(i.e., water source, good soil, fruit and game supply.)
Introduce and discuss the term "natural resource."
Make a list of examples of natural resources. Point out to students that natural resources must be from
nature (not man-made) and must be useful.
Divide class into small groups to research natural resources
commonly being used in pre-1804 America.
At that time, the population primarily lived on the East Coast,
so the resources of that region were, for the most part,
the only ones being used.
Have student groups create lists of the resources and for what
each was used.
As a large group, discuss the findings of each group's
research. Students will probably notice that there are many more
resources used today than they discovered were being used pre-1804.
Tell them many were discovered on the Lewis and Clark
Providing research tools and materials (books, encyclopedias,
Internet) have class work in their small groups to discover resources
found along the Lewis and Clark trail.
There were many resources the Corps found, and also many which
were introduced to them by the Native Americans they encountered.
Have each group take notes on their research.
The notes should include the natural resources, how the
resource was introduced to the Corps, and for what each natural
resource could be used.
When all research is complete, discuss findings as a class.
Have each student write a business-format letter to President
Jefferson from Meriwether Lewis.
In the letter, Lewis should present his findings regarding
natural resources and make a recommendation to President Jefferson in
support of or against expansion to the Louisiana Territory based on
the available natural resources. Have students include facts about resources used pre-1804 and
about those found on the Lewis and Clark trail.