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America Writers Video Lessons

Directions: Use the themes, questions and video clips below to teach and learn with portions of C-SPAN's American Writers program featuring Meriwether Lewis & William Clark and the Journals of the Expedition. Link to the complete video clip list to identify clip descriptions and create your own lessons. Each theme contains questions and video clips appropriate for varying grade levels.
Lesson Credit: Curriculum Advisory Team member, Don Leibold.

Choose from three themes:
Western Expansion
Level One
Watch   Clip 6
Level Two
Watch   Clip 2
Level Three
Watch   Clip 92

1. What was President Thomas Jefferson's guiding principle for Lewis and Clark's journey?
2. Describe the relationship of Meriwether Lewis and Thomas Jefferson before the expedition. How did William Clark come to play a role in the expedition?
3. What was "imperial expansion?" How did it benefit the United States? What problems came with it?
4. Compare and contrast the United States' expansion efforts with those of England, France, and Spain.
5. With regard to western expansion, in what ways was the journey a success? In what ways was it a failure?

Native Americans
Level One
Watch   Clip 83
Level Two
Watch   Clip 49
Level Three
Watch   Clip 88

1. What kinds of interactions did Lewis and Clark have with the various Native American communities met along the way?
2. Describe Sacagawea's role in the Lewis and Clark journey.
3. In a journal entry dated February 20, 1806, Lewis uses the word "savages" to describe Native Americans. Why did many white people of the day describe Native Americans as "savages?" How do you think such a label affected interactions between the two groups? Does this stereotype persist today?
4. What effect did European diseases have on Native Americans?
5. Lewis and Clark were learning about Native Americans. What were Native Americans learning about white people from Lewis, Clark, and the Corps of Discovery?

Physical Realities of the Journey
Level One
Watch   Clip 24
Level Two
Watch   Clip 34
Level Three
Watch   Clip 30

1. How did Lewis and Clark prepare for the expedition?
2. What was the total length of the trip? How many miles were covered? What were some key milestones along the way?
3. What did Lewis and Clark eat during their journey? What did they wear? What kind of shelter was available?
4. Describe a typical day for Lewis and Clark at Fort Clatsop. How might their mental and physical conditions differed at this point in the journey?
5. How much did the trip cost? Was this expensive for the time? What would be a comparable undertaking for the federal government today?

I   II   III   IV   V   VI   VII   VIII

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