An obscure undertaking in its own time, the Lewis and Clark expedition has grown in the American imagination, acquiring an almost mythic stature. Arriving as the country commemorates the expedition’s bicentennial, Across the Continent is not an exercise in demythologizing; rather, it is an examination of the explorers’ world and the complicated ways in which it relates to our own. The essays collected here look at the global geopolitics that provided the context for the expedition—and at the interest in science, shared by Jefferson, that not only grew from the expedition but, to an extent, justified its undertaking. Finally, the discussion considers the various legacies of the expedition, in particular its impact on Native Americans, and the current struggle over who will control the narrative of the expansion of the American Empire.
* Introduction: Geopolitics, Science, and Culture Conflicts, Peter S. Onuf and Jeffrey L. Hantman, University of Virginia
* Jefferson’s Pacific: The Science of Distant Empire, 1786-1811, Alan Taylor, University of California, Davis
* Securing America: Jefferson’s Fluid Plans for the Western Perimeter, Jenry Morsman, University of Virginia
* Thomas Jefferson’s Conflicted Legacy in American Archaeology, David Hurst Thomas, American Museum of Natural History
* A Nation Imagined, a Nation Measured: The Jeffersonian Legacy, Kenneth Prewitt, Columbia University
* Oñate’s Foot: Histories, Landscapes, and Contested Memories in the Southwest, Douglas Seefeldt, University of Virginia
Douglas Seefeldt, Lecturer in History at the University of Virginia, is the Director of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Project. Jeffrey L. Hantman is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Archaeology Program at the University of Virginia. Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History at the University of Virginia, is the author of Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (Virginia).