Lewis and Clark’s Compass
c. 1804, American History Museum
The device that guided a historic American expedition
In Philadelphia, a year before setting off on the 1804 journey with his close friend William Clark, Capt. Meriwether Lewis paid $5 for a silver-plated, mahogany-boxed, three-and-a-half-inch compass. It would guide them some 7,000 miles across the American West and help them produce one of the expedition’s greatest achievements: the first map depicting the true scope of the Rocky Mountains. The compass is one of the few surviving instruments from the famed Corps of Discovery, authorized by President Thomas Jefferson.