On this day… way back in 1803…. the U.S. Senate approved a treaty with France. This treaty provided for the purchase of the territory of Louisiana. Now when most people hear that, they think we just picked up the state of Louisiana. But, in fact, this purchase doubled the size of the United States.
This was a big dang historical deal. Driven mostly by Thomas Jefferson…. who was president at the time. But Tom had his moments of apprehension. He wasn’t sure this was the absolute right thing to do. The reason?
Well, our Constitution hadn’t really given any provisions for the addition of territory by treaty. But he said… “Oh. What the holy heck.” And took the ball and ran with it. As it turns out, the treaty was ratified. And…. the Louisiana Purchase now ranks as the greatest achievement of Jefferson’s presidency.
But that was just the tip of the iceberg really. He wanted to know exactly what we had our hands on… and what more might be up for grabs. So Jefferson called upon the son of a friend of the family. This young man was named Meriwether Lewis.
I just finished a book on the Lewis & Clark Expedition. I could write about 50 pages on this tonight. Well… not tonight. But there was a lot of interesting details about their 8,000 miles journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back again.
Like…. they went mostly by boat. A bunch of boats…. canoes, pirogues, and such.
Or… that Lewis & Clark met because of a shady deal… sort of. You see…. Meriwether Lewis was court-martialed. He allegedly challenged a lieutenant to a duel…. over a drunken dispute. Not guilty…. as it turned out. But he got a transfer to a new rifle company. And his new commander turned out to be William Clark.
One of the coolest things, I think… involved Clark. He brought along his personal slave. This guy was big and strong. His name was York.
Many of the frontier tribes they met on the expedition took a liking to York. Mainly because they had never seen someone of African descent. The Arikara people of North Dakota even referred to York as “Big Medicine” and speculated that he had spiritual powers.
He was not considered an official member of the Corps of Discovery (the name for the Lewis & Clark gang of about 30 soldiers mostly). But. York made the entire journey from St. Louis to the Pacific and back. He was one of the go-to guys along the way.
But the cool thing is this. When the explorers voted on where to place their winter camp in 1805… both York and the Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea were allowed to participate in that vote. Now…. this was a simple show of hands…. this here vote…… by the official members appointed on the expedition. But they included York and Sacagawea. This may have marked the first time in American history a black man and a woman were given the vote. That’s just a little magnificent, isn’t it?
I could drone on about all this history, but I won’t. There it is. On this date, back in 1803, we got Louisiana and a whole lot more. But more than anything, it shows me ….. …. once again …. how one life event brings the next, and the next, and the next.
And on days when it seems like it doesn’t matter if we put butter on our toast, or go all out…. and have a bagel with cream cheese…. we could be on the verge of something magnificent.
Something really and truly incredible might be just around the corner.
Every day holds that capacity. For each and every one of us… wonderful, amazing people that we are. We were born divine.
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
“Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.” ― Victoria Holt