In 1803 US President Thomas Jefferson purchased 838,000 sq. miles of land from France. This famous land deal became known as the Louisiana Purchase and prompted Jefferson to commission Meriwether Lewis and Wm. Clark to lead an expedition through the newly acquired US territory. In May, 1804, these two men along with approximately 40 other recruits launched one of the most dramatic and significant explorations in US history. Starting near St. Louis at the mouth of the Missouri River, the entire expedition totaled nearly 8,000 miles over a period of 2 years, 4 months and 10 days.