On 14 May 1804, the personal secretary President Thomas Jefferson, one Capt. Meriwether Lewis, and a companion, William Clark, led a thirty-three-man expedition to the new lands of Louisiana, purchased from Napoleon the previous year. 8,000 miles (13,000 km) and two years later, after rafting up the Missouri and crossing the Rocky Mountains, they reached the far side of the world, the Pacific Ocean. Almost in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark followed a hardy breed who ventured fearlessly into the unexplored wilderness, blazing trails that within a few short decades would be filled with first a trickle, then a multitude of emigrants heading west in search of new lands and new lives.
The Wild West is the story of the men and women who answered the call of the West.