Compass used on the Lewis and Clark expedition, 1804-6
President Thomas Jefferson dispatched Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, both experienced soldiers, to explore the uncharted northwest territory acquired from France through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Their mission was to assess the land's resources, find a land route to the Pacific Ocean, and make contact with Native Americans. Early in their journey they were joined by Sacajawea, a Shoshone woman who helped guide the party westward across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The compass Clark used to navigate the route was given to Captain Robert A. McCabe, a U.S. Army officer who later served as an Indian agent in Minnesota and Michigan. After his death in 1839, the compass was passed down through his brother's family for nearly a century. In 1933 McCabe's grandniece presented the compass and case to the Smithsonian.
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