Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame
southern gentleman who became a protegé
of another Virginia landowner, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson knew
the time he was a young boy and took an interest in his career and
education. When Jefferson became President, Lewis served as his
private secretary. After Jefferson negotiated the coup of his
the Louisiana Purchase, he found a new job for Lewis.
the young Army captain was a controversial choice in some quarters,
he was Jefferson's man to lead the overland expedition which would
explore the continent to the Pacific. Part naturalist, part soldier,
part scientist, part diplomat, Lewis combined the qualities necessary
to survive the arduous journey without being killed by Indians or
defeated by the elements. It was a remarkable achievement.
and his co-leader Clark went where no white men had gone
and Lewis' reports added greatly to the then existing scientific
and geographic knowledge. He paved the way for the westward expansion
of the young United States and was instrumental in early contacts
with the western Indian tribes. He
returned a hero and received a hero's reward.
appointed him governor of the new Louisiana territory. He had difficulty
remaining on good terms with the territory's secretary and fell
out with other important government officials. He failed to report
regularly and finally got into trouble over the territorial finances.
He was on his way to Washington to justify his actions when he fell
seriously ill and died a violent death. There is controversy surrounding
his death. Some believe he was murdered, but those closest to him,
Jefferson and his partner William Clark, had no doubt that it was
suicide. His private demons, which he kept at bay during the desperate
days of the expedition, seem to have gained the upper hand when
life returned to normal.
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