Lewis and Clark’s Camp Dubois Detachment Orders

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

When Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off up the Missouri River on May 14, 1804, they led an exploring party with sights set on the Pacific Ocean. However, while Lewis and Clark planned to enter territory unseen by American eyes, they did not allow the unknown to displace military order and the expectation that chains of command be followed. In other words, the Corps of Discovery was a military operation.

Multiple instances throughout the journey illustrate this point, including the Corps of Discovery’s time at their first winter camp, Camp Dubois. For example, five “Detachment Orders” were issued to govern daily life as Lewis and Clark readied the men for the journey west.

The Inspiration of the American Flag: Fremont and California

The Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner

Memorialized best in Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the American flag invokes a rallying cry among those witnessing its fluttering in the wind. Through the words “What so proudly we hailed,” Key instantly described the effect of seeing the American flag waiving over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Renewed by this sight, Key and others forgot the uncertainly of the previous battle.

Throughout history and throughout the world, this scene has been repeated countless times. For John C. Fremont, increasing tensions between his explorers and the Mexican government of California caused such an event in March, 1846.

Meriwether Lewis and the Location of Camp Dubois

Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis

During Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey exploring territory gained through the Louisiana Purchase, they made three winter camps: Camp Dubois near St. Louis, Fort Mandan in present-day North Dakota, and Fort Clatsop on the Pacific Ocean. Showcasing Lewis’ steadfastness of mind that would ultimately guide the Corps of Discovery through countless interactions with Native Americans, the events leading to the location of Camp Dubois sits as an interesting portal into Lewis’ mind.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo – The Aftermath of the Mexican American War

Treaty of Guadalupe HidalgoFor much of the middle portion of the 19th century, Manifest Destiny – the idea that the United States was destined to occupy and remake the land between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – shaped American foreign policy. While the Louisiana Purchase and the 1846 Oregon Treaty furthered the goal of coast-to-coast settlement, the February 2, 1848 signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo completed the southern half of the Manifest Destiny puzzle and ended the Mexican American War.

While the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo resolved the issues between Mexico and the United States that led to war, it created many new issues within the United States as rival political factions vied to form the new territory in their own view.

Standing Bear v. Crook – Extending Personhood to Native Americans

Standingbear2One of the significant legal developments on the War on Terror was the extension of the right of habeas corpus – the ability to challenge what is believed to be an unlawful detention – to enemy combatants. Through the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Bormediene v. Bush decisions, the United States Supreme Court affirmed the ability of enemy combatants to address their detention through the federal court system. Even as early as the Civil War, the right was protected from presidential suppression in Ex Parte Merryman. 

Wartime decisions aside, the 1879 Standing Bear v. Crook decision stands as one of the most remarkable preservations of the right of habeas corpus undertaken by American courts. Praising the efforts of General George Crook while recognizing his duty to follow orders, the court nevertheless questioned the forced removal of peaceful Indians from land which they were invited to occupy. In stinging logic and common sense, Judge Elmer Dundy dispatched with the notion that Indians were not people and thus the protection against unlawful detention did not apply to them 

STS-51-L – Remembering the Challenger

On January 28, 1986, President Ronald Reagan postponed his State of the Union address to speak to the country about the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. His words comforted a nation facing its first “in air” space flight related deaths and inspired others to follow in the astronauts’ footsteps despite the dangers of space exploration.

Today, President Reagan’s words are just as inspiring. With a continued space presence through the International Space Station, the dangers associated with space exploration are just as relevant today and President Reagan’s words serve as a reminder of the sacrifices of our astronaut corps.

View President Reagan’s address after the jump.

Zebulon Pike’s Instructions

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

President Thomas Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 instructions to Meriwether Lewis ranks among the most famous instructions given to an explorer in American history. Not only do Jefferson’s instructions showcase the personal interests of the third president of the United States, they demonstrate the national purpose of the Corps of Discovery. Significantly, Jefferson’s instructions also serve as a model for subsequent explorations of the American West.

Hitler’s Blunders Must Include Africa

I recently came across Jeff Danelek’s article discussing the “Top 10 Greatest Military Blunders of World War II.” The article reviews decisions at Anzio, the reliance on the Maginot Line, the Japanese surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, and other well known episodes.  However, in reading the article, I was struck by the absence of any mention of Hitler’s refusal reinforce Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

William Clark’s Promotion

One of the many amazing aspects of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey across the continental United States is their shared command of the Corps of Discovery. On this topic, Stephen Ambrose noted that “[d]ivided command almost never works and is the bane of all military men, to whom the sanctity of the chain of command is basic and the idea of two disagreeing commanders in a critical situation is anathema.”

History’s Unneeded Speeches

imageEarlier this week, the British Government released a draft of a speech Queen Elizabeth was to give at the commencement of World War Three. Echoing the words of Winston Churchill during the darkest days of World War Two, the proposed speech calls upon British resolve and urges “families [to] remain united and resolute” so that “our country’s will to survive cannot be broken.”