Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America

September 18, 2003

10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Coolidge Auditorium, Thomas Jefferson Building
Ground Floor, First Street, SE
Washington, DC 20540

Morning session: Expectations and Realities of the American West
10:00 a.m

James P. Ronda is the H.G. Barnard Professor Western American History at the University of Tulsa and the author of numerous books about Lewis and Clark and western exploration including Finding the West, Explorations with Lewis and Clark; Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, Astoria and Empire, and Revealing America, Image and Imagination in the Exploration of the American West

“Looking West from the East,” Dr. Ronda discussed the tensions between the expectations that Thomas Jefferson had about the character of the West, the way those expectations conditioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the realities that the expedition encountered on its way West.

Carolyn Gilman is the Special Projects Historian at Missouri Historical Society and the curator of Lewis and Clark: National Bicentennial Exhibition and the author of its companion volume Lewis and Clark—Across the Divide. She has also written other books including Where Two Worlds Meet, the Great Lakes Fur Trade.

Ms. Gilman's paper “Lewis and Clark Discover the Indians” examined how Lewis and Clark set out for the west with heads full of assumptions about Indians that affected their relationships with native people. This paper traced the origins of their preconceptions to the social philosophy and national policies of their day and will illustrate some ways in which their observations of Indians were shaped by what they expected to see.

Afternoon session: Cartography and the American West
2:30 p.m.

John Logan Allen is Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Allen, both an historian and a geographer, spent his career examining the exploration and settlement of the American West. His books include Passage through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American West and Jedediah Smith and the Mountain Men of the American West. He is the editor of a three-volume work entitled North American Exploration.

The Nicholas King 1803 map served as the centerpiece of Dr. Allen's paper, “Geographical Lore on the Eve of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.” Dr. Allen will discuss the process of his discovery and identification of the map, the source materials used in its creation, and what it all meant in terms of the “Jeffersonian” view of the West.

Ralph E. Ehrenberg is the former chief of the Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress and the Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration. He is the author of numerous articles on the mapping of the western United States and Washington, D.C., as well as several books including The Mapping of America (with Seymour I Schwartz) and the Library of Congress Geography and Maps: An Illustrated Guide. He continues to be interested in the history of western mapping and exploration and is currently researching the history of aviation cartography.

Dr. Ehrenberg's paper, “The Eyes of the Army: Exploratory Mapping of the American West,” explored military expeditions conducted in the nineteenth century beginning with Lewis and Clark.

Discussion to follow

[Following the symposium at 5:30 p.m., there was a reception and book signing to celebrate the publication of Lewis and Clark—cross the Divide by Carolyn Gilman with an introduction by James P. Ronda, sponsored by Smithsonian Books]

This event was free and open to the public.

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