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Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery
A Ken Burns Film
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TV WATCH

TUE 7/9/2013

8:00PM on CPTV
(Check Listings)

LEWIS & CLARK: THE JOURNEY OF THE CORPS OF DISCOVERY

A Ken Burns Film

Meriwether Lewis, a young army officer from Virginia and President Thomas Jefferson's personal secretary, and William Clark, a fellow Virginian and seasoned frontiersman, set out in 1803 on an expedition Jefferson called his Corps of Discovery, to explore the Missouri River and find a passageway to the Pacific Ocean. These programs by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns and co-producer Dayton Duncan presents the story of this incredible journey, combining readings from the journals kept by Lewis and Clark, contemporary newspaper accounts, letters and oral-tradition stories from various Indian tribes with interviews of scholars, writers and descendants of expedition members.Traveling through the vast, varied and breathtaking land that the expedition traversed, the film introduces viewers to these two famous captains and to the other members of the Corps of Discovery: young army men from Kentucky and New Hampshire; French-Canadian boatmen; an African-American slave; and a Shoshone woman named Sacagawea. Through their eyes, viewers come to appreciate the crucial role this expedition played in taking the United States' initial steps toward becoming a continental nation. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out in 1803 on a n expedition President Thomas Jefferson commissioned to find and chart a path to the Pacific Ocean through the unexplored North American Wilderness. This two part documentary, one of the most popular in Ken Burns's filmography, draws upon the extraordinary archival, cinematography, writing and storytelling we have all grown to expect from America's greatest documentary story teller, with the actual journals of the two leaders of the expedition as the primary source.

 

EPISODE 101

Tue., 7/9/13 at 8pm

In 1801, the United States ended at the Mississippi River and almost all Americans lived 50 miles west of the Atlantic Ocean. When President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon, he doubled the country's size. The sudden western expansion of the United States--and rumors of a Northwest Passage that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific--motivated Jefferson to find the great byway to the West. Previously, it had been shrouded in mystery--Jefferson's books described a world that contained erupting volcanoes, hills of pure salt and blue-eyed Indians who spoke Welsh. He appropriated $2,500 for the journey and commissioned his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to the task of revealing the West. Lewis asked his old friend, William Clark, and a group of rough frontiersmen to join the expedition, now called the Corps of Discovery. This Ken Burns documentary chronicles the challenges, frustrations and anxiety that faced the Corps of Discovery -- their encounters with Native Americans, the new animals and plant life they discovered, their historic pairing with Sacagawea, and their crossing of the Continental Divide.

 

EPISODE 102

Tue., 7/16/13 at 8pm

As Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery passed the Missouri River and approached the Bitterroot Mountain Range, they grew desperate for horses and provisions to get through the seemingly endless, snow-covered peaks. Sacagawea's presence provided solace for the Corps--her knowledge of the West, her tireless enthusiasm, great courage and ability to care for a child along the expedition were inspiring to the frontiersmen. She once again became a living "white flag" for Lewis and Clark, this time to the Shoshone Indians--her native culture--who provided them with horses for their journey. The Corps continued to west, where, for the first time, their canoes were traveling with the river's current. Finally, on November 18, 1805, William Clark set out from their campsite in the Columbia River Gorge, climbed a hilland saw what no white man had ever seen from the Northwest: the Pacif ic Ocean. Their exploration of the West opened a new world to Americans and signaled the beginning of the end for Native Americans. When Thomas Jefferson learned of the vast continent between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, he predicted that it would take 100 years to settle thearea through which Lewis and Clark traveled. It took Americans less t han five years. This program, the second of a two-part series, recounts how this historic journey was really the discovery of the American future.