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Meriwether Lewis & William Clark

Meriwether Lewis b.1774, Albermarle County, Virginia; d. 1809, Nashville, Tennessee

William Clark b. 1770, Caroline County, Virginia; d. 1883, St. Louis, Missouri





When you think of pioneer exploration, you think of these two men. The germinal (beginning) moment came in 1803 when army captain Lewis, President Thomas Jefferson's private secretary, was put in command of a congressional financed (paid for by congress) journey to find and explore a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson had just completed what would today doubtless be termed "the mother of megadeals," buying from Napoleon for $15 million dollars a tract (piece) of land just about equal in size to the then-existing United States. Lewis promptly invited fellow officer William Clark, like himself an experienced outdoorsman, to share leadership of the expedition.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis on May 14, 1804, traveling up the Missouri River - its 30 members included surveyors, soldiers, Kentucky frontiersmen, two French boatmen, and Lewis' Newfoundland dog, Seaman. En route they were guided by a Shoshone woman named Sacagawea (also spelled Sacjawea but pronounced Sa-ga-ga-way-a), who interpreted (translated) for them as they passed through Indian territories. Onward they pressed, and upward, into the Rockies. In November 1805, they spent the winter on the coast and in March set out on the difficult return trip.  
Arriving back in St. Louis on September 23, 1806, they marked the occasion by jubilantly (happily) firing their guns. Not only had they surveyed more North American continent than anyone before them, but by opening the Oregon Trail they had given the U.S. its majestic sense of "manifest destiny" - of being a country that stretched leisurely (without worry) from sea to shining sea, rather than just a string of states huddled along the Atlantic looking uneasily back toward Europe.
Clark was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs and, in 1813, governor of the Missouri Territory. Lewis was made governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1807; two years later, on his way to Washington, D.C. , he died under mysterious circumstances near Nashville.
President Jefferson, aware that Lewis suffered from depression, sadly concluded that he had committed suicide, but others suspected foul play.

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Below are some sites and links for more information on Lewis and Clark. 



Lewis and Clark

Captain Meriwether Lewis

Planning the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Meriwether Lewis



William Clark

William Clark,(1770-1838)

William Clark

William Clark Links

People in the West: WILLIAM CLARK

PBS Online: Lewis Clark




Meriwether Lewis

Meriwether Lewis, Explorer

Meriwether Lewis, American Explorer

Meriwether Lewis Links






This site was last  updated 08/04/2004 08:08 PM -0400