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Much time went into ensuring a sufficient supply of these items.

The route of Lewis and Clark's expedition took them up the Missouri River to its headwaters, then on to the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River, and may have been influenced by the purported transcontinental journey of Moncacht-Apé by the same route about a century before.

Like Captain Cook, Jefferson also wished to discover a practical route through the Northwest to the Pacific coast.

Alexander Mackenzie had already charted a route in his quest for the Pacific, first following the later-named Mackenzie River to the Arctic Ocean in 1789.

Lewis, however, was not ignorant of science and had demonstrated to Jefferson a marked capacity to learn, especially with Jefferson as his teacher.

At Monticello, Jefferson possessed the largest library in the world on the subject of the geography of the North American continent, and Lewis had full access to that library.

Jefferson had also read Captain James Cook's A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (London, 1784), an account of Cook's third voyage, and Le Page du Pratz's The History of Louisiana (London, 1763), all of which greatly influenced his decision to send an expedition.Jefferson chose Lewis to lead the expedition rather than a "qualified scientist" because, "It was impossible to find a character who to a complete science in botany, natural history, mineralogy & astronomy, joined the firmness of constitution & character, prudence, habits adapted to the woods & a familiarity with the Indian manners and character, requisite for this undertaking. Lewis has." In 1803, Jefferson sent Lewis to Philadelphia to study medicinal cures under Benjamin Rush, a physician and humanitarian.Jefferson also arranged for Lewis to be further educated by Andrew Ellicott, an astronomer who instructed him in the use of the sextant and other navigational instruments.Jefferson had a copy of Le Page's book detailing Moncacht-Apé's itinerary in his library, and Lewis carried a copy with him during the expedition.Le Page's description of Moncacht-Apé's route across the continent, which neglects to mention the need to cross the Rocky Mountains, may be the source of Lewis and Clark's mistaken belief that they could easily carry boats from the Missouri's headwaters to the westward-flowing Columbia. Loos of Louisiana State University wrote William Clark's Part in the Preparation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, a 511-page manuscript published in 1954 by the Missouri Historical Society.

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Two years into his presidency, Jefferson asked Congress to fund an expedition through the Louisiana territory to the Pacific Ocean.