Meriwether Lewis Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1774 Ė 1809 *** Full Name: Meriwether Lewis *** Occupation: American Explorer, Soldier, Politician and Public Administrator *** Date of Birth: Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18th 1774 *** Place of Birth: Meriwether Lewis was born in Albermarle County in Virginia, USA *** Family background: His father was Lt William Lewis who was of Welsh ancestry and his mother was Lucy Meriwether who was of English descent. His father died when he was a boy of five years of age and his mother remarried. With his mother and step-father, Captain John Marks the family moved to Georgia in 1780 where they settled near the Broad River *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in Wilkes County when he honed his skills in hunting and outdoor survival *** Education: Meriwether Lewis did not receive any formal education until he was thirteen years old. Up until that point he developed what would become a lifelong passion for natural history. His mother educated him on how to recognize and gather wild herbs to be used for medicinal purposes. At the age of thirteen he was sent to live with his uncle Nicholas Lewis who became his legal guardian and where he would be educated by private tutors. At nineteen he graduated from Liberty Hall ***
Meriwether Lewis Fact 1: Meriwether Lewis was born on August 19th 1774 and during the 18th century period in history when France and America both went through revolutions and the Industrial Revolution began in Britain.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 2: In 1793 after graduating Meriwether Lewis became a member of the Virginia militia and would take part the following year in helping to put down the Whiskey Rebellion.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 3: By 1795 he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Army and by 1800 he had risen through the ranks to a Captain but resigned the following year.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 4: In April of 1801 Meriwether Lewis would be appointed to President Thomas Jefferson as an aide, the pair had met socially through Virginian society in Albermarle County.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 5: Jefferson was keen to explore America, so when he proposed an expedition across the continent, he felt Lewis was more than up to the task. Lewis in turn offered the position of co-commander of the proposed expedition to William Clark, his former commanding officer while he was in the U.S. Army.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 6: The territory of Louisiana at that time was owned by France. In 1803 America purchased Louisiana from France and President Jefferson wanted more information about the terrain and native population.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 7: The expedition took two years but eventually both Meriwether Lewis and William Clark finally reached the Pacific. Twelve years previously Sir Alexander Mackenzie reached the Pacific by going overland across Canada.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 8: The expedition returned to Virginia in 1806, with information, as well as animal and plant specimens.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 9: Ultimately the information they returned with was confirmation that not only could the country be traversed but that beyond the land mass was the Pacific Ocean and what lay beyond.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 10: In recognition of his feats of discovery Meriwether Lewis was awarded one hundred and sixty acres of land and President Jefferson appoint Lewis as governor of the territory of Louisiana.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 11: A large part of his duties as governor was to enforce the treaties with the Indian populations to prevent and protect the Indian territories from encroachment, which proved a upward struggle with more and more people wishing to settle further afield.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 12: His biggest adversary was Frederick Bates his territorial secretary who schemed against him in a manner that damaged Lewis integrity. What didnít help matters for Lewis was the very poor postal service which meant correspondence was delayed or lost. Meriwether Lewis Fact 16: En route Meriwether Lewis changed his mind disembarking at St Louis he decided to travel overland. The risk travelling by road was from robbers who would on occasion kill their victims.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 13: In one particular instance Lewis had made a large personal advance to help assist the return of a Mandan chief to his home. As a result of Batesís machinations the War Department point blank refused to reimburse him and Meriwether Lewis was forced to liquidate his assets which included the land he had been given by President Jefferson to pay off his creditors who had heard of his financial difficulties.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 14: These circumstances promoted Lewis to make the journey to Washington D.C. to defend his character and establish Bates as liar.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 15: Meriwether Lewis left his home on September the 3rd 1809 and travelled to Washington D.C. via ship from New Orleans.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 17: Having stopped for the night at an establishment called Grinderís Stand, he had a meal and retired to a room.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 18: Gunshots were heard coming from his room in the early hours of the morning and Lewis was found to have wounds to his head and stomach.
Meriwether Lewis Fact 19: On October 11, 1809 Meriwether Lewis died of these wounds. His body was laid to rest in the area that he had died in Tennessee.
Influence and Legacy: Two years after the death of Meriwether Lewis, the War Department settled upon his estate the money he had been owed. There is also some speculation as to what or who actually caused his death. At the time it was recorded his death was a suicide, which was largely accepted. Forty years after his death, his grave was located to place a permanent monument in his honor. It was decided to exhume the body for examination and once examined it was concluded that the wounds suffered were more likely committed by another person and not self-inflicted.