44 Facts About Meriwether Lewis


Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark.


Meriwether Lewis died of gunshot wounds in what was either a murder or suicide, in 1809.


Meriwether Lewis was the son of William Lewis, of Welsh ancestry, and Lucy Meriwether, of English ancestry.


Meriwether Lewis was the great-great-grandson of David Crawford, a prominent Virginia Burgess and militia colonel.


Meriwether Lewis's mother taught him how to gather wild herbs for medicinal purposes.


Meriwether Lewis seems to have been a champion for them among his own people.


Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia, and in 1794 he was sent as part of a detachment that was involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion.

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Meriwether Lewis resided in the presidential mansion, and frequently conversed with various prominent figures in politics, the arts and other circles.


Meriwether Lewis compiled information on the personnel and politics of the United States Army, which had seen an influx of Federalist officers as a result of "midnight appointments" made by outgoing president John Adams in 1801.


Meriwether Lewis was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1802.


Meriwether Lewis initially made arrangements to publish the Corps of Discovery journals, but had difficulty completing his writing.


Meriwether Lewis published the first laws in the Upper Louisiana Territory, established roads and furthered Jefferson's mission as a strong proponent of the fur trade.


Bates was accused of undermining Meriwether Lewis to seek Meriwether Lewis's dismissal and his own appointment as governor.


Bates wrote letters to Meriwether Lewis's superiors accusing Meriwether Lewis of profiting from a mission to return a Mandan chief to his tribe.


One of the primary reasons Meriwether Lewis set out for Washington on this final trip was to clear up questions raised by Bates and to seek a reimbursement of the money he had advanced for the territorial government.


Meriwether Lewis was a Freemason, initiated, passed and raised in the "Door To Virtue Lodge No 44" in Albemarle, Virginia, between 1796 and 1797.


Meriwether Lewis was nominated and recommended to serve as the first Master of the proposed Lodge, which was warranted as Lodge No 111 on September 16,1808.


Meriwether Lewis made assignments to York but allowed Clark to supervise him; Meriwether Lewis granted York and Sacagawea votes during expedition meetings.


Later, Meriwether Lewis hired a free African-American man as his valet, John Pernia.


On September 3,1809, Meriwether Lewis set out for Washington, DC He hoped to resolve issues regarding the denied payment of drafts he had drawn against the War Department while serving as governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory, leaving him in potentially ruinous debt.


Meriwether Lewis carried his journals with him for delivery to his publisher.


Meriwether Lewis intended to travel to Washington by ship from New Orleans, but changed his plans while floating down the Mississippi River from St Louis.


Meriwether Lewis disembarked and decided instead to make an overland journey via the Natchez Trace and then east to Washington.


Meriwether Lewis had written his will before his journey and attempted suicide on this journey, but was restrained.


Servants found Meriwether Lewis badly injured from multiple gunshot wounds, one each to the head and gut.

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Meriwether Lewis bled out on his buffalo hide robe and died shortly after sunrise.


Money that Meriwether Lewis had borrowed from Major Gilbert Russell at Fort Pickering to complete the journey was missing.


Mrs Griner claimed Meriwether Lewis acted strangely the night before his death: standing and pacing during dinner and talking to himself in the way one would speak to a lawyer, with face flushed as if it had come on him in a fit.


Meriwether Lewis continued to hear him talking to himself after he retired, and then at some point in the night, she heard multiple gunshots, a scuffle, and someone calling for help.


Meriwether Lewis claimed to see Lewis through the slit in the door crawling back to his room.


Meriwether Lewis did not explain why she stopped investigating then, or decided the next morning to send her children to look for his servants.


Meriwether Lewis heard voices and gunfire in his cabin about 1:00 am.


Meriwether Lewis then found it empty with a large amount of gunpowder on the floor.


From 1993 to 2010, about 200 of Meriwether Lewis's kin sought to have the body exhumed for forensic analysis, to try to determine whether his death was a suicide or murder.


Meriwether Lewis stressed Lewis's debts, heavy drinking, possible morphine and opium use, failure to prepare the expedition's journals for publication, repeated failure to find a wife, and the deterioration of his friendship with Thomas Jefferson.


Meriwether Lewis was buried near present-day Hohenwald, Tennessee, near his place of death.


Meriwether Lewis's grave was located about 200 yards from Grinder's Stand, alongside the Natchez Trace.


Alexander Wilson, an ornithologist and friend of Meriwether Lewis who visited the grave in May 1810 during a trip to New Orleans to sell his drawings, wrote that he gave the innkeeper Robert Griner money to erect a fence around the grave to protect it from animals.


The 2009 ceremony at Meriwether Lewis's grave was the final bicentennial event honoring the Meriwether Lewis and Clark Expedition.


Samples of plants which Meriwether Lewis discovered on the expedition were brought from the Trail states and laid on his grave.


For many years, Meriwether Lewis's legacy was overlooked, inaccurately assessed, and somewhat tarnished by his alleged suicide.


Jefferson wrote that Meriwether Lewis had a "luminous and discriminating intellect".


William Clark's first son Meriwether Lewis Clark was named after Lewis; the senior Meriwether Clark passed the name on to his son, Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.


Meriwether Lewis never married or had any children, but he has numerous collateral descendants via his siblings.