Meriwether Lewis

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Meriwether Lewis
Meriwether Lewis - Explorer (1774 - 1809)

Meriwether Lewis was a soldier with an interest in natural history. He was appointed, by Thomas Jefferson, to lead an expedition to explore the lands that had just been purchased from the French in the ‘Louisiana Purchase’. He led the 'Corps of Discovery' on this venture which became known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

This page details facts about Meriwether Lewis's life and the events that shaped his history.

Meriwether Lewis the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Meriwether Lewis Fact   1: Meriwether Lewis was born in Virginia on 18th August 1774, to Lieutenant William Lewis (1733 – 1779) and Lucy Meriwether (1752 – 1837).
Meriwether Lewis Fact   2: Following his father’s death from pneumonia, Meriwether Lewis moved to the Broad River area of Georgia with his mother and step father Captain John Marks.
Meriwether Lewis Fact   3: It was in Georgia, as a young boy, that Meriwether Lewis began hunting and learning his outdoor skills. He had an interest in natural history and learned, from his mother, to gather wild herbs for medicines.
Meriwether Lewis Fact   4: Meriwether Lewis also had his first dealings with American Indians in the Broad River Valley. The local area was Cherokee territory.
Meriwether Lewis Fact   5: Meriwether Lewis was sent back to Virginia, at the age of thirteen, to be privately educated. His uncle, Nicholas Lewis, became his guardian. He graduated from Liberty Hall in 1793, before joining the Virginia militia where, in 1794, he was involved in suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion.
Meriwether Lewis Fact   6: Joining the army as an ensign (Lieutenant) in 1795, Meriwether Lewis became a Captain in 1800 and left in 1801. During his service one of his commanding officers was William Clark, who would go on to accompany him as part of the Corps of Discovery.
Meriwether Lewis Fact   7:

On 1st April 1801, Meriwether Lewis became an aide of President Thomas Jefferson, who later chose him to lead an expedition to explore the lands west of the Mississippi. Meriwether Lewis chose his old commanding officer, William Clark, to share command of the expedition.

Thomas Jefferson
Meriwether Lewis Fact   8:

The 'Lewis and Clark Expedition' would last two years and reach the Pacific Ocean. One interpreter and guide for the expedition was Sacagawea, a fifteen year old Shoshone Indian woman.

Meriwether Lewis Fact   9:

In 1806 Meriwether Lewis returned from the successful expedition and was rewarded with 1600 acres of land. In 1807 he was appointed Governor of the Louisiana Territory.


Picture of Thomas Jefferson

Meriwether Lewis Fact 10: Settling in St. Louis, Meriwether Lewis carried his duties as Governor however his secretary, Frederick Bates, had written to Washington accusing Lewis of profiting from an undertaking to return a Mandan Chief to his tribe. Meriwether Lewis had personally advanced a large amount for the undertaking, however as a result of the accusation, the War Department withheld reimbursement. This forced Lewis to sell assets, including the land he’d been granted from his previous expedition.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 11: There are several versions of the events that led to the death of Meriwether Lewis, ranging from murder to suicide. However, a letter written to Jefferson on 18th October 1809, recounts the following version: On 3rd September 1809, Meriwether Lewis headed for Washington DC to hoping to resolve the issues regarding the withheld payment. On October 10th, he stopped at an inn on the Natchez Trace (An old path from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee). Following dinner, he went to his cabin. In the early hours of the morning of 11th October 1809, the innkeeper’s wife heard several gunshots, and Lewis was found with gunshot wounds to the gut and head.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 12: Thomas Jefferson and William Clark both accepted the conclusion that Lewis’s death was suicide, however an examination of the body, forty years later, concluded that his death was more likely to have been murder.
Meriwether Lewis the Explorer (1774 - 1809) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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