Clark, William


Clark, William (1770-1838) Explorer: William Clark was born on August 1, 1770, in Caroline County, Virginia. The younger brother of Revolutionary War General George Rogers Clark, young William Clark joined the military in 1789. He fought in several campaigns against Indians; including the Battle of Fallen Timbers (1794), which broke the strength of the Northwest Indian Confederation. After the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis invited him to share the leadership of an exploratory expedition. The Lewis and Clark expedition took three years, during which the party surveyed the region from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back. Much of the success of the expedition was due to the complementary relationship of the two leaders. Clark was a bold and resourceful individual, rescuing the expedition from calamity several times. He also used his drawing skills to make maps and pictures of the animals along the way. In addition, Clark kept a diary of the expedition, providing the rest of the nation with a comprehensive description of what lay beyond the Mississippi River. Upon Clark's return from the journey, President Jefferson awarded him 1,600 acres of public land, and made him a brigadier general of militia for the Louisiana (later Missouri) Territory. Clark was also appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs, with a base in St. Louis. Maintaining that position for the rest of his life, Clark also served as the governor of the Missouri Territory from 1813; and was the surveyor general for Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas from 1824 to 1825. Deeply concerned over Indian issues, Clark appealed to the federal government on many occasions to behave justly and humanely toward Native Americans. Unfortunately, these appeals were rarely, if ever, granted. Clark died on September 1, 1838, in St. Louis, Missouri.