In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River, across the forbidding Rockies, and -- by way of the Snake and mighty Columbia -- down to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, endured incredible hardships and witnessed astounding sights. With great perseverance, they worked their way into an unexplored West and when they returned two years later, they had long since been given up for dead.
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Lewis is supported by a variety of colorful characters: Jefferson and his vision of the West; Clark, the artist and map-maker; and Lewis -- the enigma, who led brilliantly but considered the mission a failure. After suffering several periods of depression -- and despite his status as national hero -- Lewis died mysteriously, apparently by his own hand.