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Meriwether Lewis – The Famed American Explorer

Full Name Meriwether Lewis
Age 35 years old at time of death
Birthday August 18, 1774
Death Date October 11, 1809
Birth Sign Leo
Born United States
Height 5‘10
Net Worth $100,000 at time of death

Meriwether Lewis was an American explorer famous for leading the Corps of Discovery, led by him and William Clark. Under the guidelines of President Thomas Jefferson, Lewis and Clark set out on an expedition to explore and map the newly acquired lands of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark traveled over 8,000 miles, making significant scientific discoveries along the way.

Early Life and Upbringing

Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 in Albemarle County, Virginia to William and Lucy Lewis. His family owned a successful plantation and had deep roots in the area. From an early age, Lewis loved the outdoors and had an adventurous spirit. He learned to hunt, ride horses, and identify plants and animals in the Virginia wilderness.

As a young man, Lewis briefly attended the College of William and Mary but was more interested in volunteering for the Virginia militia. In 1794, President Washington personally commended Lewis for his role suppressing the Whiskey Rebellion.

Military Service and Meeting Jefferson

After joining the regular army, Lewis continued honing his skills at wilderness survival and map making. While stationed in Pennsylvania, he met William Clark, who would later become his co-leader. In 1801, Lewis was serving as Jefferson‘s personal secretary when he was chosen to lead the famous expedition.

Jefferson picked Lewis because of his frontier knowledge, familiarity with native tribes, and background in natural sciences. As preparation, Lewis studied botany, zoology, astronomy and medicine with top Philadelphia scientists for a year before embarking.

The Trailblazing Expedition

From 1804 to 1806, Lewis and the "Corps of Discovery" embarked on an epic 8,000 mile journey west to the Pacific coast. The team carefully mapped the terrain, documented new plant/animal species, and initiated relations with native tribes.

Lewis recorded detailed observations in his journal each day. He wrote with enthusiasm when describing geography, nature, native cultures, and experiences like seeing the Pacific for the first time. He also endured hardships like mosquitos, bitter cold, and tense moments with tribes.

After successfully reaching the Pacific coast, the Corps spent months returning east and were hailed as heroes. However, Lewis struggled after the expedition and tragically died just 3 years later under mysterious circumstances.