The intelligence legacy of Lewis and Clark

​An 1814 map of Lewis and Clark’s track across the western portion of North America, from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division in Washington, D.C.

The United States geospatial intelligence effort began in earnest in 1803 with President Thomas Jefferson.

​Jefferson commissioned the Corps of Discovery and appointed Meriwether Lewis, his private secretary at the time, to organize and command an expedition to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase and other lands west of the Mississippi River. Lewis recruited William Clark, an experience militiaman and younger brother of renowned Revolutionary General George Rogers Clark, to be his co-captain.

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