Jefferson’s Cipher to Lewis & Clark, Was It Necessary?

Duration: 120-150 min

In this lesson, students will study the journals of Lewis and Clark and analyze the journals, specifically looking at information in the journal entries that describe hardships faced by Lewis and Clark on their journey. After analyzing the journals, students will be instructed that President Jefferson gave instructions to Lewis to use a secret cipher as a way of communication if an injury or emergency situation arose where Lewis and Clark were going to be captured, and valuable findings of their journey would be lost. Students will be asked to determine based on reading the journal entries of Lewis and Clark if the cipher Jefferson gave to Lewis was necessary. Meaning, did the expedition that Lewis and Clark embarked on put them in serious danger where a secret code was a good idea to have in case they needed it or was the expedition not too dangerous for Lewis and Clark where a secret cipher should not have been sent or needed. Students will answer this in a written response using evidence from the journal entries they read of Lewis and Clark to support their answer.

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Grade Level

Middle School

Type of Lesson

Cooperative Learning

Author Info

Name: Nicholas Costa
School: Gouverneur Middle School
School Address (opt): 133 East Barney Street
City: Gouverneur
State: New York