Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) - Born 18 Aug 1774 in Albemarle County, Virginia. A U.S. Army officer and explorer of the western United States. Lewis joined the U.S. Army in 1794 and rose to the rank of captain in 1800. He Shared command of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) with William Clark. Appointed Governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806 by President Thomas Jefferson. Died 11 Oct 1809 near present day Hohenwald, Tennessee.
In 1801, Captain Meriwether Lewis was appointed as an aide to then President Thomas Jefferson. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Jefferson chose Lewis to lead an expedition to explore a western route to the Pacific through the new territory. Lewis recruited William Clark to share command of the expedition. Lewis and Clark carefully chose the expedition members and formed what would become the "Corps of Discovery".
The expedition left Camp River Dubois across from St. Louis on 14 May 1804 and spent the winter of 1804-1805 at Fort Mandan in present day North Dakota. While at Fort Mandan the expedition employed Toussaint Charbonneau and his young pregnant Shoshone wife named Sacagawea, who would later prove to be invaluable when the expedition encountered her people.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition successfully navigated to the headwaters of the Missouri River at Three Forks, crossed the Rocky Mountains and reached the Pacific Ocean at Cape Disappointment in present day Washington State. They built and then spent the winter of 1805-1806 at Fort Clatsop near the mouth of the Columbia River in present day Oregon.
The expedition returned to the starting point at St. Louis on 23 Sep 1806 after examining other river basins along the way. The expedition's carefull documentation of the journey with detailed maps and observations as well as a compelling set of day-by-day narrative journals, captured the public's imagination and made the Corps of Discovery national heros.
In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis Governor of Upper Louisiana.
While traveling to Washington DC in 1809, Lewis was killed or took his own life on 11 Oct 1809 near present day Hohenwald, Tennessee. He had stopped at an inn on the Natchez Trace called Grinder's Stand and was found by servants late in the evening (or early in the morning) with two gunshot wounds. Conflicting and undocumented accounts of his death leave open the possibility of either suicide or murder. He is buried near the site where he died with a large memorial column marking the gravesite within the Meriwether Lewis State Park in Tennessee.
Father: William Lewis (1733-1779)
Mother: Lucy Meriwether (1752-1837)