On This Day, Jan 18, 1803 – Jefferson Sets Stage for Lewis & Clark Expedition
1803 – Thomas Jefferson, in secret communication with Congress, sought authorization for the first official exploration by the U.S. government.
Three months later, with the Louisiana Purchase in place, Congress officially funded what would become the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States, departing in May 1804, from near St. Louis on the Mississippi River, making their way westward through the continental divide to the Pacific coast.
The expedition consisted of a select group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend Second Lieutenant William Clark. Their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and map the newly acquired territory, find a practical route across the Western half of the continent, and establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.
The campaign’s secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area’s plants, animal life, and geography, and establish trade with local Indian tribes. With maps, sketches, and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report their findings to Jefferson.
According to Jefferson himself, one goal was to find “the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.” Jefferson also placed special importance on declaring U.S. sovereignty over the land occupied by the many different tribes of Native Americans along the Missouri River, and getting an accurate sense of the resources in the recently completed Louisiana Purchase.
Although the expedition did make notable contributions to science,scientific research itself was not the main goal of the mission.
1778 – English navigator Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, which he called the “Sandwich Islands.”
1788 – The first English settlers arrived in Australia’s Botany Bay to establish a penal colony. The group moved north eight days later and settled at Port Jackson.
1886 – The Hockey Association was formed in England. This date is the birthday of modern field hockey.
1896 – The x-ray machine was exhibited for the first time.
1911 – For the first time an aircraft landed on a ship. Pilot Eugene B. Ely flew onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbor.
1919 – The World War I Peace Congress opened in Versailles, France.
1929 – Walter Winchell made his debut on radio.
1943 – During World War II, the Soviets announced that they had broken the Nazi siege of Leningrad, which had began in September of 1941.
1943 – U.S. commercial bakers stopped selling sliced bread. Only whole loaves were sold during the ban until the end of World War II.
1944 – The first jazz concert was held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The performers were Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Artie Shaw, Roy Eldridge and Jack Teagarden.
1950 – The federal tax on oleomargarine was repealed.
1957 – The first, non-stop, around-the-world, jet flight came to an end at Riverside, CA. The plane was refueled in mid-flight by huge aerial tankers.
1958 – Willie O’Ree made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins. He was the first black player to enter the league.
1967 – Albert DeSalvo, who claimed to be the “Boston Strangler,” was convicted in Cambridge, MA, of armed robbery, assault and sex offenses. He was sentenced to life in prison. Desalvo was killed in 1973 by a fellow inmate.
1978 – The European Court of Human Rights cleared the British government of torture but found it guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in Northern Ireland.
1985 – Mary Decker broke a world, indoor record when she ran the women’s, 2,000-meter race in 5:34.2. She also ran the outdoor mile in 4:16.7.
1987 – For the first time in history the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) was seen by over 100 million viewers. The audience was measured during the week of January 12-18.
1990 – A jury in Los Angeles, CA, acquitted former preschool operators Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, of 52 child molestation charges.
1990 – In an FBI sting, Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry was arrested for drug possession. He was later convicted of a misdemeanor.
1991 – Eastern Airlines shut down after 62 years in business due to financial problems.
1993 – The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in all 50 U.S. states for the first time.
1995 – A network of caves were discovered near the town of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in southern France. The caves contained paintings and engravings that were 17,000 to 20,000 years old.
Source: On-This-Day.com; Wikipedia.org