Envisaging the West: Thomas Jefferson and the Roots of Lewis and Clark


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis

Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, April 30, 1803
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson encourages Meriwether Lewis to follow Andrew Ellicott's advice on scientific matters involving astronomical measurements.

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Th: Jefferson to Capt. Lewis

I think we spoke together of your carrying some steel or cast iron corn mills to give to the Indians or to trade with them, as well as for your own use. lest however I should be mistaken, I mention them now. I make no doubt you have consulted with mr. Ellicot as to the best instruments to carry. I would wish that nothing that passed between us here should prevent your following his advice, which is certainly the best. should a timepiece be requisite, it is probable mr. Garnet can furnish you one. neither Ellicot nor Garnet have given me their opinion on the substituting a meridian at land, instead of observations of time, for ascertaining longitude by the lunar motions. I presume therfore it will not answer. accept my affectionate salutations.

Washington Apr. 30. 1803