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Elk Point in Union County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

U.S. Democracy Crosses the Mississippi River

 
 
U.S. Democracy Crosses the Mississippi River Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, March 29, 2016
1. U.S. Democracy Crosses the Mississippi River Marker
Inscription.  
While camped at the "Elk Sign" campsite on August 22, 1804, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark acted to replace Sergeant Charles Floyd, who had taken ill and died two days earlier. They called for the Corps of Discovery to vote on Floyd's replacement.

The election of Private Patrick Gass - the first recorded election in the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase - was a distinct break from military custom. With victory in the War of Independence barely 20 years old, democratic zeal was strong among the expedition's cadre of independent backwoodsmen and its leaders.

Picture Title
Patrick Gass and the Corp of Discovery land at the "Elk Sign" campsite, August 22, 1804.

Inset Paragraph
Patrick Gas
Patrick Gass volunteered for the Corps of Discovery over the objections of his superiors, while stationed at Fort Kaskaskia, Illinois Territory. At age 33, he was among the expeditions oldest and most veteran members. Meriwether Lewis considered him a man of "capacity, diligence, and integrity." He was also considered a good soldier and a first-rate carpenter a rare combination
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on the frontier. Patrick Gass kept a journal during the entire journey - a remarkable achievement given that his education was limited to nineteen days in school. He settled in Wellsburg, Virginia now West Virginia and lived to age 99 as the last surviving member of the Corps of Discovery.

Journal Entry
ordered a Vote of the men for a Sergeant of the three highest members a choice to be made Gass Bratton Gibson -- Gass

William Clark, August 22, 1804.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Exploration. In addition, it is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition series list. A significant historical date for this entry is August 22, 1804.
 
Location. 42° 40.998′ N, 96° 41.611′ W. Marker is in Elk Point, South Dakota, in Union County. Marker can be reached from S. Harrison St., ¼ mile W. Jefferson St.. This marker is located with others to recognize the Lewis and Clark expedition camped here in this park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elk Point SD 57025, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Lewis and Clark Expedition (here, next to this marker); A Land of Plenty (here, next to this marker); Entering an Uncertain Land (here, next to this marker); Return to "Elk Sign" Campsite (here, next to this marker); Lewis & Clark Campsite / Eli Wixson Farm Site
Lewis & Clark's Historical Markers image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, May 14, 2016
2. Lewis & Clark's Historical Markers
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Elk Point (approx. half a mile away); First Election in Northwestern United States (approx. 0.6 miles away); Grasshopper Cross (approx. 4.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elk Point.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Lewis & Clark's Campsite Sign image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, March 29, 2016
3. Lewis & Clark's Campsite Sign
Patrick Gass Bust image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Ruth VanSteenwyk, March 29, 2016
4. Patrick Gass Bust
Patrick Gass
1771 -1870
Sergeant Patrick Gass was elected to replace Sergeant Floyd, who died two days earlier. This vote on August 22, 1804 at the "Elk Sign" campsite (Elk Point), tested the noble experiment of the United States democracy in the Louisiana Territory. Gas received 19 votes to win the first election by United States citizens west of the Mississippi River.

As a citizen of Virginia and chief carpenter for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Sergeant Gass published the first account ot the Expedition in 1807.

He is buried in Wellsburg, West Virginia.

The bust was sculpted by Agnes Vincent Talbot of Boise, Idaho.y Agnes Vincent Talbot of Boise, Idaho. August 15 2003
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 19, 2017. It was originally submitted on January 17, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 280 times since then and 9 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 17, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 14, 2024