The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
July 3, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Meriwether Lewis Portrait Commemoration Event
The East Room

Dr. Archibald, thank you and the Missouri Historical Society for lending this portrait of Meriwether Lewis to the White House.

Secretaries Norton and Veneman; members of Congress, and tribal leaders, welcome.

I'm sorry that my friend Stephen Ambrose couldn't be with us today, but his son Hugh Ambrose is here with his wife Andrea. Welcome. Stephen Ambrose is author of the wonderful book Undaunted Courage. He has contributed so much to the American dialogue on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Today we commemorate the anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. It was on this day in 1803 that a late-night messenger, Secretary of State James Madison, brought word to the White House that the Louisiana Purchase was official just over two months after the treaty was signed with Napoleon.

The Louisiana Purchase meant that Louis and Clark could travel across American-owned land without interference from the French. The size of the United States doubled by the greatest land deal in history, and the new frontier begged for exploration.

The next day, July 4th, was one of President Thomas Jeffersons happiest celebrations. Meriwether Lewis, who had been staying at the White House, soon departed. Within days, he and the Corps of Discovery were on their way up the Missouri River. According to one account, Lewis left the White House in such a hurry that he forgot his pocketbook.

We believe that Saint-Memin made this portrait of Lewis before he embarked on that journey. The artist used a physiotrace--a tracing and cutting instrument -- to capture this striking image.

This is the profile of a wanderer, a man fascinated with nature and prone to dark moods and solitude.

His friend, Captain William Clark, was an agreeable navigator and one of the countrys best mapmakers. The two men made an excellent team.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were only part of the success of the Expedition. The other part belongs to the American Indians who helped them along the way the Mandans, Hidatsas, Shoshones and many others who are represented here today.

This Saint-Mmin portrait of Lewis will be on display in the library, among portraits of Otoe, Pawnee and Kanza tribal members. Visitors will be able to view this portrait on the White Hour tour.

The Expedition's bicentennial invites us to explore our past. And this portrait reminds us that there are many profiles in this great American story. This commemoration is not complete without a profile the American Indians and the man who devoted much of his life and his presidency to exploration.

Our next speaker is one of the nation's leading experts on Thomas Jefferson, who presided over the Expedition as President of the United States.

Dan Jordan is President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. He is a renowned scholar and caretaker of one of America's favorite places, Thomas Jefferson's home of Monticello. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dan Jordan.

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