Home Today's Reason to Drink May 14: The Lewis and Clark Expedition Kicks Off

May 14: The Lewis and Clark Expedition Kicks Off

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On this day in 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out on their famous expedition. Commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who was curious about all this land he’d recently bought from France, their journey would wind from the frontier settlement of St. Louis to the distant shore of the Pacific Ocean. So you’re probably wondering, did Meriwether and William bring any booze along on their perilous journey? Indeed they did. They provisioned their party with with upwards of 300 gallons of spirits, including rum, whiskey and brandy. They also brought along some porter and wine. Captain Lewis, whose enthusiasm for drinking had gotten him in trouble with military courts in the past, apparently was free-handed when it came to distributing the rations. In his journal, Clark makes many mentions of the crew being drunk and rowdy and also noted  the many “extra gills” of whiskey, rum and brandy given out as rewards for good behavior, cold weather, lack of energy, poor spirits, or just to celebrate holidays. There were even a few blowouts, including one wild wingding on New Years Day in the vicinity of what is now Yellowstone Park.