Shortly after acquiring the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, President Jefferson resolved that an expedition should be organized to determine the extent of the United States' new purchase. He realized that some Senators and Congressmen mocked his ideas and viewed the West as a worthless wasteland. Therefore, he asked Congress for only $2500 to finance a "Voyage of Discovery". The low cost estimate helped guarantee that political opponents could not veto his decision. The President promised that the expedition could be accomplished by an intelligent officer and ten or twelve choice men. The "intelligent officer" that he picked to head this pursuit was Meriwether Lewis, who chose William Clark travel along with him.
After much preparation gathering supplies and experienced party members, the expedition finally set sail up the Missouri River on Monday, May 21, 1804, but made only a few miles, because of head winds. Four days later they camped near the last white settlement on the Missouri,- La Charrette, a little village of seven houses.
Here and above this place the explorers began to meet with unfamiliar Indian tribes and names.
It was at this time (August 19 and 20), that the explorers lost to death the only member of their party who did not survive the journey. The Floyd River, which flows into the Upper Missouri, in the northwest corner of Iowa, still marks the last resting-place of Sergeant Charles Floyd, who died there of bilious colic and was buried by his friends near the mouth of the stream.
After two months of journeying up the river, the party reached the junction between the Missouri and the Platte. At this point, it was time to decide on where to build the spot for their winter quarters, so Lewis and Clark held councils with the chiefs...