?1774 was the birth year of Meriwether Lewis, of Albemarle County, Virginia?Meriwether Lewis, who was to become a captain in the United States Army, secretary to President Thomas Jefferson, leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the pacific, Governor of Louisiana Territory and helmsman extraordinary of the American frontier.? (pg6) Meriwether Lewis was born to a prestigious family. Some of his family members include: great uncle who was a part of the King?s Council before the Revolution and ?Fielding Lewis who married a sister of General Washington.? (pg7) Thomas Jefferson?s father and Meriwether Lewis? grandfathers founded Albemarle. Lewis? father died when he was four, and his family?s land was to be auctioned off. Jefferson, a young lawyer in Albemarle County, ?warded ruin from the Lewis plantation.? (pg10)
As a young boy Lewis had only one good friend by the name of Billy (William) Clark. The boys dreamed of being soldiers. When Lewis was ten and Clark 14, the Clarks moved to Kentucky and Lewis was separated from his only friend. Clark wound later join the militia and fight the Indians in Ohio. Jefferson became United States Minister to France and Lewis went off to a Latin school. On July 1, 1792, Lewis graduated. He then decided to go back home to Albemarle to farm on the family?s plantation. Lewis didn?t farm for long he joined the Virginia State militia to fight for the government in the Whiskey Rebellion. During this time General Washington and Alexander Hamilton accompanied Lewis? company. Lewis didn?t get to see mush action with the state militia so when the uprising was over he joined the regular Army hoping to see some action.
In 1795 Lewis and Clark meet again. Clark is a rifleman for ?Gen. Mad Anthony Wayne.? (pg30) Both Lewis and Clark were able to see a little action against the federated Indian?s but that was all of the action they were able participate in. After the confrontation with the Indians the war was over for Lewis and Clark. They spent a week waiting for a boat to pick them up and take them home. When the boat finally arrived the crew was drunk and four days later they still hadn?t sobered up. They were tired of waiting and ready to go home so the two bought horses and set out on their own. They were able to travel for three weeks together until they parted at St. Louis. Clark went back to his farm in Kentucky. Lewis remained in the Army but went back home for a short stay before he would move onto Ft. Adams where he was promoted to Captain and would for a short time become Commander Ft. Adams. After Ft. Adams he was moved to the position of Paymaster.
?In 1801 Thomas Jefferson, neighbor, friend, and idol of Meriwether Lewis, became President of the United States.? (pg51) In 1802 Lewis became Jefferson?s secretary. While working under Jefferson, Lewis fell in love with Vice President Burrs? daughter, which happened to be married. Eventually Lewis would tell her how he felt but she pretty much said she was happily married and Lewis would never fall in love again.
A few years later Jefferson appoints Lewis head of an expedition across uncharted land to the Pacific Ocean. Lewis, grateful of this opportunity invites his old friend, William Clark, to assist him in command of the expedition. Lewis would start the expedition on the fourteenth of May and picked up Clark in St. Louis. They would depart St. Louis on the thirty-first up the Missouri River.
Along the route they ran into many Indian tribes which Lewis would trade with. After traveling by river for six months crew set up camp for the winter. The winter would be a grueling one but everyone would survive. The crew lived off ?corn, beans, and buffalo meat bought from the Indians, who accepted only one medium for barter?metal for making barbs.? (pg122) Winter passes, the river melts, and the crew can start the trip again. Later in the expedition before they reached the Pacific, Lewis and most of his men fell sick. ?At least three quarters of the party were sick except for the loathed roots, and dried fruits and berries there was no prospects for food.? (pg159) Eventually they would recover and set out again and on November 18, 1805, Lewis, Clark, and their crew reached the ocean. The men would stay on the pacific coast and wait for trading boats to arrive. The boats never showed up so they decided to make the journey back.
In June then men head over the Rocky Mountains which was one of their most difficult tasks. They encountered food and water shortages and the terrain was difficult but under the guidance of Lewis and Clark they made it through. The men would run into many more delimas on the path to home but they finally make it on September 23, 1806.
After arriving home the crew parts and all are awarded greatly in land and military pay by rank. Upon returning ?Lewis was to be appointed Governor General of all the Louisiana Territory.? (pg238) As Governor of Louisiana, Lewis was ?undertaking again a mission whereupon other had failed; but the grave 33 year old held one outstanding advantage?he knew as much and probably more about Louisiana than did any other man living.? (pg248) From my readings in the book being Governor of Louisiana was going to be a tremendous task. They territory of Louisiana was without ?a common language or accepted law.? (pg249) During this time as Governor, Lewis ran into some problems. One was getting funding from the government and the other was being criticized by the government. The government doubted Lewis?s accounts of what was happening in his territory.
Lewis was very sick when he decided he must travel to Washington to clear his name. Clark tried to talk him out of going until he got better but Lewis insisted. Lewis had made the trip to Washington a few times and it was an easy trip in comparison to his other expeditions. The easy trip to Washington would be his last.
The people of the expedition to Washington run into a storm. Lewis, still being very sick decides he will ride out in front of the rest of the men to seek shelter at the next house. He finds shelter at the home of the Griner family where later on that night he would fall very ill and delirious. That night Lewis would end his own life.