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Today in history: June 20
President Thomas Jefferson gave orders to Lewis and Clark to explore the Louisiana Purchase in 1803
Lewis and Clark talking with natives during their exploratory journey west of the Mississippi River. 
Lewis and Clark talking with natives during their exploratory journey west of the Mississippi River.  Hulton Archive/Getty Images

June 20

On this day. 1803: President Thomas Jefferson gave orders to Captain Meriwether Lewis ahead of his expedition (with William Clark) to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

Lewis and Clark's journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. Their main objective was to explore and map the Louisiana Purchase, and to follow the Missouri River northwest to see if it was connected to the Columbia River, which flowed into the Pacific Ocean. The campaign's secondary objectives were scientific and commercial: To study plants, animals, geography, and other natural resources. Jefferson also wanted Lewis and Clark to be friendly with the Indians and to establish as many trade ties as possible with them.

On this day. 1979: President Jimmy Carter climbed onto the White House roof to celebrate the installation of solar power panels. The U.S. was hit by oil shortages during the '70s; Carter said renewable energy could help the country ease its dependence on imports. The 32 solar panels on the White House cost $28,000 and generated enough energy to provide hot water for the entire 132-room mansion. President Ronald Reagan removed the panels in 1986, saying the energy crisis of the 1970s was a thing of the past.

Quote of the day

"The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly." –Jimmy Carter


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