Lewis, Meriwether

Lewis, Meriwether (1774-1809) Explorer: Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774, near Charlottesville, Virginia. He inherited a fortune when his father died while young Lewis was only a child. Lewis became a bold and adventurous young man, and he left school at the age of 18. In 1794, he volunteered to fight in the force that put down the Whiskey Rebellion. The next year, he entered the regular army, and became a captain in 1800. from 1801 to 1803, he served as private secretary to President Jefferson. Jefferson later recommended Lewis to Congress to command an expedition across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. In the summer of 1803, Lewis set out of the expedition, with his associate, Capt. William Clark, and a company of 9 young men from Kentucky; 14 soldiers; 2 Canadian boatmen; two Frenchmen, an interpreter, a hunter and Capt. Clark's black servant, as well as some others who were part of the expedition for only part of the journey. Sacajawea, a Shoshone married to one of the Frenchmen in the expedition, proved a helpful guide to the group, especially when they encountered the Shoshone tribe. The expedition traveled from Washington, D.C., to Kentucky, then up the Missouri River, where they met the Mandan Indians. They continued up the Missouri, until they reached the great falls. The found three nearly equal streams, which they named the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin. They continued on to travel up the Columbia River, to the Pacific Ocean. From there, they returned home. Congress made land grants to Lewis and Clark and their chiefs; and Lewis became governor of the Missouri Territory. His impartiality and firmness restored some order to the territory, which had been full of dissension. He soon began to suffer from emotional disturbances, which had plagued him since his childhood. In 1809, he was called to Washington, while he was suffering from depression. On October 8, 1809, at a logging place near Nashville, Tennessee, he committed suicide.