Meriwether Lewis biography
SynopsisBorn on August 18, 1774, in Albemarle County, Virginia, Meriwether Lewis, in 1801, was asked by President Thomas Jefferson to act as his private secretary. Jefferson made Lewis another offer--to lead an expedition into the lands west of the Mississippi, which he did after enlisting William Clark. With the help of Sacagawea, the team successfully reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805.
Work for JeffersonExplorer, soldier. Born on August 18, 1774, in Albemarle County, Virginia. As a member of the state militia, Lewis helped to quell the Whiskey Rebellion, a Pennsylvania uprising led by farmers against taxes, in 1794. The next year he served with William Clark, a man who would later help him on one of the greatest expeditions of all time. Lewis joined the regular army and achieved the rank of captain. In 1801, he was asked by President Thomas Jefferson to act as his private secretary.
Jefferson made Lewis another offer - to lead an expedition into the lands west of the Mississippi. Already eager to know more about these lands, Jefferson's interest in the area increased with purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. Jefferson asked Lewis to gather information about the plants, animals, and peoples of the region. Lewis jumped at the chance and selected old friend William Clark to join him as co-commander of the expedition.
The Expedition BeginsLewis, Clark, and the rest of their expedition began their journey near St. Louis, Missouri, in May 1804. This group - often called the Corps of Discovery by historians - faced nearly every obstacle and hardship imaginable on their trip. They braved dangerous waters and harsh weather and endured hunger, illness, injury, and fatigue. Along the way, Lewis kept a detailed journal and collected samples of plants and animals he encountered.
Lewis and his expedition received assistance in their mission from many of the native peoples they met during their journey westward. The Mandans provided them with supplies during their first winter. It was during this time that expedition picked up two new members, Sacagawea and Touissant Charbonneau. The two acted as interpreters for the expedition and Sacagawea, Charbonneau's wife and a Shoshone Indian, was able to help get horses for the group later in the journey.