Lewis and Clark

by Ms. Ali’s class, to the tune of Proud Mary (Rolling On The River) by John Fogerty


In eighteen hundred and four

The Louisiana Purchase was no game

We were getting more land, we needed to explore and

Write about it to legitimize our claim

One thing Jefferson knew is

He really needed Clark and Lewis

Rowing, rowing, rowing up the river


Took some boats up the Missouri

Paddled up as far as the boats would go

Mapped a lot of land and wintered at Fort Mandan

Met a French trapper named Charbonneau

One thing they could agree on

They really needed Sacagawea

Walking, walking up across the Rockies


Never found a Northwest Passage

Had to walk across the Continental Divide

Built new boats and floated down the great Columbia

Sighted the Pacific on the other side

Spent a winter at Fort Clatsop

Headed home in spring and that’s all

Exploring, exploring the Louisiana Purchase.


Lewis and Clark made a journey

Met a lot of tribes all along the way

Some of them were fighting, but later they were dying

It’s part of how we made our country today

What Jefferson bought from Napoleon

Lewis and Clark put our flag on

Exploring, exploring the Louisiana Purchase.

Exploring, exploring the Louisiana Purchase.



Since Westward expansion is a major theme in U.S. history, Ms. Ali's class did a song about Lewis and Clark's journey across the Louisiana Purchase. Main ideas they identified included:

-President Thomas Jefferson, having "bought" the territory from Napoleon, needed to commission some kind of formal exploration and documentation in order to legitimize our claim to the territory.

-Other reasons included scientific curiosity and the hope for a Northwest Passage, i.e. a water route from the Atlantic to the Pacific across North America.

-Everywhere the explorers went, they met native people. Some were friendly, some not so much; all would eventually fall victim to European diseases and/or the United States' desire for more land.

On this last point, I cannot help but contrast how I learned the story when I was young. Schoolhouse Rock did a wonderful song & video called "Elbow Room" that showed people streaming West while the native people sort of stood there, smiling and waving. Even when I was ten, that felt a little odd to me. I still reckon if we want to get serious about reconciliation, the first thing to do is acknowledge what actually happened.

Okay, rant over now. Mind you, none of that diminishes the extraordinary achievement of Lewis and Clark. They were extraordinary men and they led a team on a journey of more than two years; and they all made it home again. Pretty awesome stuff.