Chapter 1 Youth 1774 – 1792 Summary and Analysis Meriwether Lewis’s ancestry, birth, and early life are considered. Lewis is born August 1774 in Virginia to William Lewis and Lucy Lewis nye Meriwether, cousins. Lewis is born on the eve of the American Revolutionary War and his ancestry includes numerous military accomplishments in both lines. Lewis has an older sister, Jane, and a younger brother, Reuben. William Lewis dies of pneumonia in 1779; thereafter Nicholas Lewis, William’s older brother, becomes family guardian pending Lewis’ attainment of legal age.
Lucy Lewis remarries in 1980 to John Marks, and has two additional children—John Hastings and Mary Garland. One significant family friend is Thomas Jefferson, future president of the United States of America and a nearby plantation owner. As a young boy, Meriwether spends a considerable amount of time out of doors, including accompanying a frontier pioneer group to a new settlement. He is considered to be curious, inquisitive, coolheaded, and courageous… Chapter 2 Planter 1792 – 1794 Summary and Analysis
Also read: Why Nations Fail Chapter 5 Summary
He esteems Native Americans as the archetypical noble savage and believes that one day they will accept European civilization and become productive and co-equal citizens; he simultaneously considers African Americans somewhat sub-human and incapable of the degree of energy and self-direction necessary for independent success in a free-enterprise… Chapter 3 Soldier 1794 – 1800 Summary and Analysis During the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, many young men, once children of the American Revolution, enlist in the military as a show of patriotic fervor.
Among the new inductees is Meriwether Lewis who enlists as a private. Although only a private his considerable wealth, substantial education, and notable breeding ensure that, he spends most evenings in the company of officers. He finds life in the service enjoyable and fulfilling. Within a few months, he is commissioned an ensign in the Virginia Militia. After the rebellion is quelled the army ranks are rapidly thinned through cutbacks, but Lewis retains his position even with little experience—a fact which speaks well for his capability as a junior officer.
He is eventually assigned to be army paymaster and spends many months traveling extensively through the western frontier areas of the growing nation. He meets most army officers personally and gets to know their opinions… Chapter 4 Thomas Jefferson’s America 1801 Summary and Analysis When Thomas Jefferson becomes President of the United States of America, the nation numbers slightly less than five and one-half million people. That includes approximately one million slaves. Geographically, the nation is a vast open country, nearly limitless in potential, and nearly completely unknown.
Overland travel is slow and difficult, seldom averaging more than a score of miles in a day—even over a rarely encountered roadway. Rivers form the dominant highways and are the only way to transport substantial bulk materials. The relative positions of the Eastern seaboard states are known, as is the position of the distant Oregon country. Roughly, three thousand miles of terra incognita lay in between. Jefferson incorrectly speculates that a water route along major rivers probably exists which could link the two population centers.
Meanwhile, many European nations, including Spain, France, England, and Russia, are vying for control of the interior of North America. Such… Chapter 5 The President’s Secretary 1801 – 1802 Summary and Analysis Meriwether Lewis is serving as army paymaster, when Thomas Jefferson offers him the highly sought after job as personal secretary to the president. Lewis immediately accepts the job. Though he leaves active service, he retains his commission and right to promotion. Jefferson selects Lewis largely because he is a staunch Republican and, importantly, because he knows nearly all of the officers in the army on a personal basis.
One of the first tasks Lewis completes is an encyclopedic rating of all commissioned officers, placing them into one of several categories, which largely established their capability as officers and their political beliefs. Many officers are dismissed from the service, chiefly those who are incompetent but also many who are politically hostile to the new administration. Lewis performs many duties as secretary, including constant visits with congress and interaction with significant political persons. In fact, Lewis delivers Jefferson’s first ‘state of the…
Chapter 6 The Origins of the Expedition 1750 – 1802 Summary and Analysis From the earliest days of colonization, the national interest had been captivated by the vast interior space. Many voyages of interior exploration were planned but virtually none had come to fruition. Jefferson had personally championed several attempts. On the most promising attempt, the noted adventurer Andry Michaux was selected. Jefferson raised funds through private subscription and Michaux commenced his voyage of exploration.
Before getting far, however, Jefferson discovered Michaux was actually an agent of the French government, causing the entire exertion to be canceled. Because of these many unsuccessful experiences, Jefferson comes to believe that a voyage of national exploration would require the financial backing of the Federal Government. In 1787, a British explorer reports crossing northern Alberta and reaching the Pacific coast near Columbia. Coupled with the recent retrocession of the Louisiana territory from Spain to France the news galvanizes Jefferson; he determines immediately to act to preserve the…
Chapter 7 Preparing for the Expedition January – June 1803 Summary and Analysis Jefferson personally attends to Lewis’ requisite education. As well, Jefferson contacts experts in significant fields and enlists their open-ended assistance as educators, peers, and advisors for Lewis. Lewis thus has unrestricted access to the brightest minds in the nation while preparing for his voyage of discovery. Meanwhile, the various details of planning and organization are covered throughout the chapter. Jefferson develops an extensive document containing instruction, advice, and orders.
Lewis makes up lists of supplies and costs, and estimates how many men might be required to successfully complete the voyage. Lewis also spends a great deal of time learning how to perform geographic observations to fix latitude and longitude. Toward the end of the period discussed in the chapter Lewis begins to accumulate the vast stores of impedimenta required for such a long journey; he in particular spends time at Harpers Ferry securing firearms and overseeing the construction of an… Chapter 8 Washington to Pittsburgh June – August 1803 Summary and Analysis Lewis returns to Washington and spends several critical weeks with Jefferson.
Copies of the voyage orders document are circulated among Jefferson’s intimate circle and various revisions are proposed and accepted. Lewis meanwhile continues to gather maps and fragmentary knowledge of the deep interior of the continent. Jefferson writes and signs a carte blanche order allowing Lewis to draw any funds or equipment from any branch or station of the United States Government; it also requests private enterprises to assist Lewis so far as practicable and orders military installations to cooperate with Lewis in any circumstance.
The author notes the document is the most unlimited letter of credit ever issued by an American president. During this time, a second officer was considered indispensable to the voyage’s success; Lewis immediately extends the offer, by post, to his old friend William Clark. Clark of course accepts the invitation, forming the most-famous partnership in… Chapter 9 Down the Ohio September – November 1803 Summary and Analysis Lewis begins the trip by boarding the newly constructed keelboat and proceeding down the Ohio River.
The extreme lateness of the season (Lewis had hoped to be leaving months previously) insured that the Ohio’s waters were very low. Thus, the initial stages of the trip were very slow and the keelboat made only ten or so miles each day. Lewis begins recording in his journal on August 31, the day he left. The text then considers the nature of the journals; Lewis never recorded whether the journals were written during or after the expedition. Further, there are frequent large gaps in the journals where nothing is recorded—for example, May 14, 1804 to April 7, 1805.
Modern histories do not know if these journals are lost or if Lewis simply did not record his observations for these prolonged periods. At any event, Lewis continues on his voyage. The snail’s pace gradually… Chapter 10 Up the Mississippi to Winter Camp November 1803 – March 1804 Summary and Analysis The mighty Mississippi River quickly convinces Lewis and Clark that they will need still more men to be successful. Over the next several weeks, the men worked the keelboat and pirogues against the current, difficult hard work claiming only a few miles of progress each day.
The party continued on, stopping at trading posts and forts to obtain supplies and review potential recruits. The party eventually reaches St. Louis and a brief period of political intrigue follows wherein the local Spanish political commander refuses to allow entry to the Americans until the official land transfer of the upper Louisiana territories occurs. While in St. Louis Lewis sends and receives mail, notably from Jefferson. Additional men and supplies previously sent overland, rendezvous with the river party.
With the season and political situation over, the party subsequently winters at Camp Wood near St. Louis. Finally, in mid-March, the political handover is accomplished…. Chapter 11 Ready to Depart April – May 21, 1804 Summary and Analysis In the spring, Lewis and Clark purchase more provisions and ready to leave. Clark’s commission finally arrives; startlingly it is for a lieutenant’s commission and not a captain’s commission as Lewis had promised. Nevertheless, Clark accepts the commission, though obviously disappointed.
Lewis suggests and Clark agrees that they two alone will know the true situation—to everyone else on the entire voyage, and for years afterward, Clark is known as Captain William Clark and viewed as Lewis’ co-commander on the voyage. Lewis appoints an authorized agent in St. Louis, sends of final communiquys, and readies his personal gear for departure. Many of the men attend a final mass service. In the afternoon, the party departs amidst rain, thunder, lightning, and the cheering of assembled crowds.
For the next two or more years the party knows there will be no letters, no communication and no supplies from their homes. They are isolated… Chapter 12 Up the Missouri May – July 1804 Summary and Analysis By dint of nearly superhuman endurance and raw physical strength, the party forces the heavy keelboat against the current of the mighty Missouri River, making up to twenty miles progress some days. The party reaches the Osage River, the Kansas River, and then the Platte River, passing tiny outposts of advance settlers and trappers. One settlement of note is Boone’s Settlement in Kentucky—founded by Daniel Boone.
History does not record whether Lewis and Clark meet Boone. Strangely, throughout much of this period Lewis keeps no daily journal. Instead, he apparently spends his time walking ashore and collection plants, animals, and soils specimens while Clark, the better river-man, manages the progress of the keelboat. Lewis does issue a comprehensive Detachment Order, which allows modern historians to partially reconstruct the daily routine of the adventuring party. One of Lewis’ primary directives was the posting of an active watch to secure the voyage…
Chapter 13 Entering Indian Country August 1804 Summary and Analysis Lewis begins to realize the unprecedented possibilities offered to an astute botanist; he collects many specimens previously unknown to science and writes lengthy monographs using precise and technical terminology. The same paradigm presents with animal life—for example, on August 12, 1804, Lewis and Clark become the first Americans to see a coyote, which they called a ‘prairie wolf’. Near the end of August, the party shoots and eats the first bison taken by American hunters. The Garden of Eden qualities of the land are not lost on Lewis.
Also during August, the party makes their first contact with Indians, meeting Otos and Missouris. Jefferson’s orders instruct Lewis to attempt to peacefully integrate the Indians into the growing American commercial system; Jefferson wants to replace British fur traders with Americans and hopes most or all of the various Indian nations can be integrated with the United States of America. Lewis will… Chapter 14 Encounter with the Sioux September 1804 Summary and Analysis The Sioux tribes are widely regarded as well organized, militant, and aggressive.
Jefferson’s instructions to Lewis specifically indicate that the Sioux should be courted especially vigorously as their cooperation would be extremely useful to future American expansion in the area. In early September, the party continues upriver and fortuitously encounters the lost private—he had assumed the boats were upriver from him and thus has been proceeding ahead of the party for a few weeks. Lewis finds the area of present-day South Dakota almost unbelievably opulent in animal life and he discovers several species—once, two in a single day—that are entirely new to science.
Lewis and Clark commend with wonder at the hundreds and even thousands of bison that make up vast herds and on the plentiful bounty of the land. Ambrose once again notes that Lewis’ journals are silent for a prolonged period beginning roughly when the party meets the… Chapter 15 To the Mandans Fall 1804 Summary and Analysis Throughout September, the voyage continues upriver through panoplies of natural wonder. Huge herds of migrating mammals are seen daily and enormous flights of migrating birds pass overhead. The weather temporizes and frosts kill off the clouds of mosquitoes, as the trip becomes one of entire enjoyment.
The party encounters their first grizzly bear; they refer to it as a white bear. They also pass through the deserted outer lands of the once-mighty Arikara tribe; empty villages and lands a mute testimony to the mass deaths recently caused by smallpox and other diseases. Eventually they arrive at the Arikara heartland and discover a tribe about three thousands strong. The meeting proceeds well and the Indians are friendly. One chief accompanies Lewis and Clark upriver to the next great tribal area of the Mandans, ostensibly to negotiate peace between the tribes. Many outlying Mandan villages are also deserted due to smallpox, but…
Chapter 16 Winter at Fort Mandan December 21, 1804 – March 21, 1805 Summary and Analysis The winter proves exceptionally cold and difficult. Lewis and Clark and their men must rely upon the Mandan Indians for supplies and food. The expedition builds a sturdy fort complete with a palisade wall and substantive interior shelters. On one occasion, a lazy soldier scales the wall rather than issuing a password and waiting for the gate; he is observed by an Indian who subsequently scales the wall in imitation. Lewis and Clark are concerned now that the Indians realize the wall is more show than defense—in the event, however, nothing untoward occurs.
The winter months are spent hunting, preparing for the coming season, and mingling with the local Indians. York, Lewis’s African American slave, proves interesting to the Indians who think at first that he must be colored with paint. Frequent minor political intrigues occur and are documented, as are some of the Indians’ sensationalistic practices. For example, the… Chapter 17 Report from Fort Mandan March 22 – April 6, 1805 Summary and Analysis In the spring, the keelboat is packed and readied for its return trip to St. Louis—too large to navigate the upper Missouri, it is replaced by small canoes.
The keelboat is loaded with specimens, journals, observations, maps, compiled Indian vocabularies, and many long letters. These form the final link between the party and the United States of America until the party’s return after many months of exploration. Lewis also sends an accounting of the expenses of the expedition to this point, including a list of all the various letters of credit he has issued on the journey. The expedition hopes to reach the Pacific Ocean and then return as far as the Mandan villages for the winter of 1805-6, and then return and report to Jefferson as early as September 1806.
These predictions illustrate that even at this late date Lewis is underestimating the difficulty of crossing the Rocky Mountains… Chapter 18 From Fort Mandan to Marias River April 7 – June 2, 1805 Summary and Analysis The expedition departs in early spring. Lewis refuses several last-minute offers of sexual adventure for the officers and men, even declining to take along several squaws for routine camp company. For many days, Clark guides the river teams of pirogues and canoes while Lewis with a few picked men hikes along the shore, hunting, recording observations, and collecting specimens.
Because of the large number of the party—around thirty-five souls—a prodigious amount of meat is needed every day. Lewis constantly notes in his journals that game of all kinds is wonderfully abundant and, unalarmed by humans, easy to secure. For most of the upriver trek Lewis and Clark find the voyage exactly as the Hidatsas had described. Major rivers are found where their rudimentary maps indicate they should be, and the terrain and river conditions are as anticipated. Nevertheless, the journey is covering ground never before explored by modern Americans. Going…
Chapter 19 From Marias River to the Great Falls June 3 – June 20, 1805 Summary and Analysis For several days, Lewis and Clark try to determine which river—the Missouri or the Marias—is the true Missouri river. Because of the turbidity and temperature, all of the men conclude erroneously that the Marias is the true Missouri. Lewis and Clark, however, in complete isolation determine that the true course of the Missouri lies to the southern fork. Only much later would historians realize that the Hidatsa, traveling overland, would have entirely missed this fork of the river as it occurs in a great northern bend of the Missouri River.
Lewis and Clark spend several days scouting a goodly distance up each river and making numerous observations. They finally conclude that the party must take the south fork. While Clark leads the water party, Lewis and a few picked men rapidly proceed ahead on land to discover if they have selected the wrong branch of the river. They make good… Chapter 20 The Great Portage June 16 – July 14, 1805 Summary and Analysis The boat group soon arrives at the base of the falls. Sacagawea falls ill and is nursed by Lewis while the men cut timber and manufacture wheels and crude wagons with which they will haul the canoes and pirogues.
The portage proceeds under fair weather but the work is grueling and accomplished only after many days of toil. At the head of the falls, Lewis assembled the iron frame of his experimental boat and has it covered with elk hide. This project is fascinating to Lewis but, apparently, Clark concludes at the outset that it is unpractical. In the end, Clark’s opinion proves correct—the hide covering of the craft cannot be effectively sealed and the constant and rapid leaking through the seams of the skins makes the boat perpetually swamp. After only a few hours of experimenting ith the completed boat, Lewis must conclude that his experimental craft—hand built at… Chapter 21 Looking for the Shoshones July 15 – August 12, 1805 Summary and Analysis With overloaded canoes, the voyage proceeds up the Missouri River through difficult terrain. The Rocky Mountains enclose the river so closely that Lewis names the initial entrance ‘Gates of the Rocky Mountains’. The voyagers proceed upriver searching for Shoshone Indians from whom they hope to procure horses. They pass what will eventually become the famous Last Chance Gulch, a location rich in gold.
Lewis and Clark are not interested in mineral wealth, however—it is not easily portable and at such a distance from civilization would prove essentially worthless. First Clark and then Lewis take turns scouting ahead or ranging afar in an attempt to find the Shoshone. Clark’s feet become damaged and infected by Prickly Pears, but he still presses on. By the end of July, the men are becoming despondent because of the difficult river work. They are heartened when Sacagawea begins to recognize landmarks and informs them that…
Chapter 22 Over the Continental Divide August 13 – August 31, 1805 Summary and Analysis The next day the small group encounters an old Shoshone woman with a baby and engages her in very limited discussion, giving her some gifts. She leads Lewis and his few companions to the Shoshone village. A tense meeting follows where Lewis tries to make himself understood but is apparently mistaken for a trickster from a hostile Indian tribe, even though a white man. A period of tense negotiation follows but Lewis manages to befriend Cameahwait, the principle chief.
He convinces the Indians to accompany him downstream to meet Clark. The Indians suspect a trap and thus warily accompany him. Lewis is dumbfounded to reach the location only to discover that Clark is not yet present. He uses several stratagems to calm the worried Indians until the following day when Clark does arrive. Finally, with Sacagawea’s language skills, the Indians’ fears are largely reduced and a series of agreements are… Chapter 23 Over the Bitterroots September 1 – October 6, 1805 Summary and Analysis Led by Old Toby the party proceeds through the Rocky Mountains, covering incredibly difficult terrain.
They meet a group of Salish Indians, purchase a few more horses and continue on. During the next week the weather breaks and snow begins to fall. The journey becomes very difficult and game is scarce, forcing the killing of three horses to feed the company. Fatigued, hungry, and depressed, the party makes little progress—perhaps ten miles per day—and reaches a critical breaking point. Faced with starvation Clark takes a few picked hunters and proceeds ahead at a rapid pace with the intent of hunting what game is available and leaving it along the trail for the larger party, led by Lewis.
Lewis’ group suffers several accidents with horses and frequently loses horses during the night but continues doggedly though dysentery and venereal disease weaken the men. Finally, after 160 miles of difficult terrain and… Chapter 24 Down the Columbia October 8 – December 7, 1805 Summary and Analysis The men recover their strength and make rapid progress down the river. Even with the cumbersome dugout canoes the party sticks to the water and runs through numerous long and dangerous rapids.
Old Toby becomes so afraid of the rapids that he sneaks off one evening and is not seen again. In early October, the expedition reaches the Snake River. They meet the Nez Percy Indians and establish friendly relations. Although the expedition does not stay in one place very long, Lewis manages to compile some language vocabularies and makes some ethnographic observations, including noting that the Indians possess items obviously acquired by trading with European sailors and are, unfortunately, fond of stealing anything they can.
By mid-October, they reach the junction of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Toward the end of October, the expedition encounters a prolonged series of savage rapids. Rather than a lengthy portage, Lewis and Clark… Chapter 25 Fort Clatsop December 8, 1805 – March 23, 1806 Summary and Analysis Amidst violent rain and windstorms, the expedition establishes Fort Clatsop, a small structure with two facing buildings joined by palisade walls to form a small interior parade ground. Lewis issues garrison orders and the long winter months of boredom begin.
The men amuse themselves with sexual escapades among the receptive Indians, trading trinkets for partners and contracting venereal disease. Hunting parties wander ever farther afield and food remains very scarce. Lewis establishes a salt-making camp on the coast a few miles from the main fort—the men there boil seawater to collect salt. Throughout the winter, many groups of Chinook and Clatsop Indians visit—some are extremely friendly, others cause minor tensions. Most of the men of the expedition suffer from injury and illness at some point during the winter.
Clark repetitively records in his journal that the area brings extreme boredom, monotony, and hunger. On one occasion a small group sets… Chapter 26 Jefferson and the West 1804 – 1806 Summary and Analysis This chapter contains a brief analysis of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of the west. In brief, he subscribed to a vision of the United States stretching from coast to coast and considered that the Louisiana territory and the Pacific northwest were both rightfully components of his nation. A strident anti-British politician, he greatly desired to force the British fur traders out of American territory.
Jefferson’s views on the proper treatment of Indians are starkly at odds with his historic presentation as a great libertarian and proponent of human rights—the Indians must either join with the United States of America or remove themselves; there would be no recognition of sovereign rights. Jefferson stated that commerce with the Indians was preferable to military solutions because commerce was more profitable. The chapter also includes a discussion of the reception in St. Louis and Washington of dozens of Indians who accepted Lewis’ invitation to visit…
Chapter 27 Return to the Nez Percy March 23 – June 9, 1806 Summary and Analysis The expedition sets out with a dread of the pending Rocky Mountain traverse. Food is scare and the men have taken to purchasing and eating Indian dogs. Lewis spends several days making jerky from what game is available. At the campsites through April many starving Indians visit, begging food and stealing trinkets. Tempers in camp flare as the thievery becomes more brazen and minor scuffles are common. On several occasions violent is averted only at the last moment.
Rather than fight upriver against rapids and current Lewis determines to return along the Columbia route overland. The expedition has little left which is not necessary and when horses must be purchased, they must sacrifice part of their cooking kit to obtain them. At the end of April, the expedition meets and stays with Wallawalla and Yakima Indians; they are fed and receive more horses and are given information about trail conditions… Chapter 28 The Lolo Trail June 10 – July 2, 1806 Summary and Analysis The party proceeds into the mountains and encounters snow so deep there is no forage for the horses and the trail cannot be located.
After a brief discussion, they turn back. Several days later, they acquire Indian guides who lead them quickly and surely through the mountains. On the far side of the Bitterroot Mountains their confidence swells out of proportion to common sense and the party determines to split up and conduct separate investigations of alternative routes. In all, the Corps of Discovery will divide into five small groups and execute a reckless and complicated series of investigatory travels. Various points of rendezvous are established and the plan is delivered to the men.
Chapter 29 The Marias Exploration July 3 – July 28, 1806 Summary and Analysis The text covers only Lewis’ expedition to locate the northern headwaters of the Marias River; the book does not cover in detail the exploration conducted by any of the other groups, though their experiences are mentioned in passing. This chapter thus deals only with Meriwether Lewis and the few men that accompany him. In early July they set off to discover whether the headwaters of the Marias River—and thus of the Missouri River drainage basin—extend beyond 49 degrees north latitude.
If they do, then the United States of America can lay legal claim to more territory due to the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. The small group proceeds down the Big Blackfoot River as far as White Bear Island without major incident. They are happy to once again be on the plains where game is plentiful but they also once again find the mosquitoes nearly unbearable. They recover their cache… Chapter 30 The Last Leg July 29 – September 22, 1806 Summary and Analysis Lewis’ group proceeds by water to the junction of the Yellowstone River, the site of planned rendezvous with Clark.
Clark has left a note and moved ahead. Lewis pursues through a land of abundant game and abundant mosquitoes, making excellent progress without incident until mid-August. At that time, Lewis and a nearsighted one-eyed private are hunting elk when Lewis is shot in the buttocks. He calls out for the private who does not respond—Lewis hobbles back to the canoes and rouses the alarm of an Indian attack. The men go on the offensive but shortly return with the missing private and state no Indians are in the area.
Later Lewis recovers another letter from Clark informing him that one of the smaller expeditions, having completely failed in its mission, has rejoined with Clark. Lewis thus spends a terrible night; too sore to be moved from the pirogue he passes the… Chapter 31 Reporting to the President September 23 – December 31, 1806 Summary and Analysis In St. Louis, Lewis immediately writes a brief letter to Jefferson and also writes personal commendations for each of his men, noting with satisfaction that all members of the party have returned in good health.
Lewis also once again appealed directly to Jefferson on Clark’s behalf, noting the successful prosecution of the adventure was due equally to both men. The group then spends a month in St. Louis settling financial affairs and playing the role of heroes, enjoying fame and being entertained. In early November the party proceeds to Louisville and then to Frankfort where it splits into various smaller groups that proceed to their various destinations. Clark goes to Fincastle, Virginia, to visit with friends, while Lewis continues on to Charlottesville with Big White, the Indian chief.
Late in December, after a lengthy trip of many public appearances, Lewis arrives in Washington. No account of the initial meetings between… Chapter 32 Washington January – March 1807 Summary and Analysis In Washington Lewis once again lives with Jefferson and spends weeks and months preparing reports and revising his journal. The men of the expedition are all rewarded with substantial but not extravagant land warrants and pay—for example, Lewis’ total amounts to some $7,262. Lewis and Clark both receive promotions, Lewis civilly as the Governor of the Louisiana Territory and Clark within the military.
The book notes that Lewis is singularly unprepared to act as Territorial Governor and the appointment is one of Thomas Jefferson’s great mistakes. Clark soon departs for St. Louis but Lewis remains in Washington, ostensibly to see to the private publication of the journals of the expedition. Lewis, faced with competing publication of other expedition members’ journals, becomes uncharacteristically sarcastic about the relative merit of his subordinates’ journals. Meanwhile, Clark becomes engaged, and Jefferson begins to distribute seeds collected by Lewis to his eminent botanist friends.
Much… Chapter 33 Philadelphia April – July 1807 Summary and Analysis In the spring of 1807, Lewis leaves Washington for Philadelphia where he arranges for the publication of the journals, promised in three volumes costing $31 for the set. Lewis contacts several acquaintances for assistance in preparing the various volumes of the journals. Lewis’ biological and botanical samples are catalogued and then delivered, with Jefferson’s approval, to Charles Willson Peale’s Museum in Independence Hall. Lewis, recently admitted as a member, also lectures at the American Philosophical Society.
He also commissions artists to render relevant plates for inclusion in the journals, and Peale renders Lewis’ portrait, as does C. B. J. Fyvret de Saint-Mymin. Lewis hires mathematicians to convert his copious observations into corrected latitude and longitude measurements. Finally, Lewis and Clark purchase one other journal written by a sergeant on the voyage, presumably to forestall its publication and subsequent competition. Strangely, amidst all this preparation for publication, Lewis overlooks the single…
Chapter 34 Virginia August 1806 – March 1807 Summary and Analysis In late July, Lewis travels from Philadelphia to Washington and settles his receipts with the war department. He then tours through several cities and acquaints himself with several young women who fail to meet his expectations, and a few more who for unknown reasons do not find him suitable. For eight months, Lewis’ whereabouts are unknown and through that time he accomplishes little more than nothing. Although he receives letters and correspondence from Jefferson and his family, he does not reply.
Ambrose speculates that depression, alcohol, and malaria may explain his lack of production. At any rate, he appears in St. Louis in late winter of 1808 and produces a complex report on the situation of the Louisiana Territory. The consideration of the relative merits of the report consumes most of the brief chapter. Lewis suggests excluding the British from Louisiana Territory, greatly increasing the military presence in the area,… Chapter 35 St. Louis March – December 1808 Summary and Analysis In 1808 St. Louis is a vibrant and multi-cultural city and the dominant western city in the United States of America.
Ambrose describes the city’s unique flavor and brief history in some detail. Tensions between the old Spanish and French established business families and the new American businessmen are tense. Lewis’ predecessor, General Wilkinson, had administered the territory with one eye on his own pocketbook and thus the political and economic situations are complicated and uncertain. Administering such a complex and vast territory would be a challenge for an accomplished and professional politician—it was simply beyond the ability of the young Lewis. Lewis arrives in St.
Louis devoid of the melancholic depression that has apparently afflicted him for the past several months. He rents a house and engages in the social life of the city, drinking hard and spending many hours in dissipation. He does attempt to manage the rabble… Chapter 36 St. Louis January – August 1809 Summary and Analysis Lewis continues to work as the governor of the territory, making some good decisions and many bad ones. He begins to take regular doses of opium and morphine, ostensibly to treat his malaria—soon, however, he is strongly addicted and frequently addled.
Moreover, he continues to routinely become drunk in the company of less-notable political hangers-on; by today’s standards, he would be considered an alcoholic. His personal finances are in complete disarray and his public expenditures are alarming. He arranges a merging of personal and public interests, which draws wide criticism—he helps to establish a fur trapping and trading company, grants the company a monopoly on trade, and funds the company’s initial expedition with public funds. All this, he justifies by charging the company with the task of returning Big White to the Mandan villages.
Although not hugely aberrant in concept for the day and place, the scale of the questionable… Chapter 37 Last Voyage September 3 – October 11, 1809 Summary and Analysis In early September, Lewis sets out for Washington. He brings along the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a few personal belongings, and a huge dossier of receipts, notes, and requests for public expenditure. He hopes to arrange his documentation and present his case to the government so they will honor his many public debts. He travels initially by river but finds the heat and humidity intolerable.
In addition he drinks heavily, takes frequent snuff, many pills, and opium. His behavior is wild and outlandish and he then attempts suicide on two occasions. He is put ashore in charge of an army captain who places him under suicide watch. Lewis writes some garbled letters explaining his delay to distant officials. After about a week Lewis’ derangement lifts and he determines to proceed overland to Washington. For several days, Lewis and several attendants travel overland. Lewis’ mood is dark and… Chapter 38 Aftermath Summary and Analysis
Many years after Lewis’ death, some researchers have proposed that he might have been murdered. Ambrose considers the evidence and dispenses entirely with the theory by noting that Clark and Jefferson both accepted Lewis’ suicide at face value. Lewis was malarial, depressed, and highly stressed. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict, an inveterate user of snuff, a habitual smoker, and frequently greatly over-medicated himself with curatives of the period, which often contained mercury. Any one of these factors alone could have motivated him to suicide; taken as a group they are a more than convincing rationale.
Coupling all this with his widely reported erratic and despondent behavior, the argument against suicide appears insubstantial. Lewis’ estate is bequeathed to his mother and liquidated by his half-brother. The signal failure of his latter years remained packed into trunks—his unpublished journals. Clark obtains the expedition journals and travels to Monticello to… Big Whitee Big White was a Mandan chief. He agreed to accompany the expedition on its return voyage and visit President Jefferson in Washington. He, his family, and a party of soldiers were attacked and repelled by a group of Arikaras on their return trip. gt;/p; Cameahwait Cameahwait was a Shonshoni chief who aided the Lewis and Clark expedition. Cameahwait’s people provided horses and Old Toby to guide the expedition through the Bitterroot Mountains. Cameahwait also turned out to be Sacagawea’s brother. Toussaint Charbonneau Charbonneau was a French Canadian. At the time he met the Lewis and Clark company, he was living among the Hidatsas as an independent trader. Sacagawea was one of his wives. Lewis and Clark eagerly signed him on as an interpreter, thus gaining the service of Sacagawea. Lewis was disappointed with Charbonneau, however, calling him “a man of no particular merit. Pierre Chouteau houteau, along with his half-brother Auguste, co-founded St…. Undaunted Courage | Summary Lewisa€™ Early Life The first five chapters of Undaunted Courage detail Lewisa€™ life before undertaking the expedition. Lewis was born to a distinguished Virginia plantation family in 1774. As a boy, Lewis spent several years living in a Georgia frontier colony. After his return from Georgia at the age of thirteen, he was given several years of formal education so that he would be prepared to manage the estate he had inherited from his father.
However, he only spent a few years on the Virginia plantation; instead, he volunteered for the Virginia militia in 1794. He spent the next six years in the military, and his service required him to travel throughout much of the American frontier. However, in 1801, President Jeffersona€”a longtime acquaintance of the Lewis familya€”asked Lewis to serve as his personal secretary and aide. Captain Lewis quickly gave up his military commission and moved to the presidenta€™s residence in Washington. Planning the Expedition Jefferson had long been interested in sending an expedition to explore the west.
When Jefferson learned that the British were planning to engage in the fur trade in the Pacific Northwest, he was galvanized into action. In 1802, Jefferson chose Lewis to command an expedition to the Pacific. Lewis had three main goals: find an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean; tell the Indians they had a new leader and bring them into the American trading network; and explore the northern tributaries of the Mississippi and the Missouri rivers, which would determine the northern extent of the boundary of the Louisiana Purchase.
Jefferson was also keenly interested in scientific inquiry. In preparation for the journey, Lewis studied geography, botany, mineralogy, astronomy, and ethnology with leading American scientists. He also made decisions on what and how many supplies to bring, what presents to give the Indians, and how many men to employ in the company. He oversaw the construction of a boat that would take the company up the Mississippi River. Lewis also decided he needed a co-commander, and he chose Clark, whom he had met in the military.
Although Clarka€™s official rank was never promoted beyond that of lieutenant, which dismayed Lewis greatly, the two men shared command. While preparations were being made, the Louisiana Purchase was also completed, giving the United States ownership of much of the land over which the men would travel. Up the Missouri On August 31, 1803, Lewis set forth down the Ohio River. He met with Clark in Clarksville, Indian Territory, where they enlisted men in their Corps of Discovery. The party then sailed upriver to Wood River, where they set up winter camp.
Clark oversaw the preparations for the trip while Lewis took charge of purchasing supplies in St. Louis. On May 22, 1804, the Corps of Discovery, made up of almost fifty men, was finally on its way. It consisted of a large keelboat and two smaller boats. The boats traveled more than 640 miles upriver before encountering a single Indian. On August 2, a party of Oto arrived at the expeditiona€™s camp. Lewis told them about Jefferson, their new Great Father, and gave them gifts. On August 20, the expedition suffered its only fatality when Sgt. Charles Floyd died of a ruptured appendix.
In September, the Corps met a large party of Sioux and visited the Sioux village. In October, the group approached the Mandan villages in present-day North Dakota. The friendly Mandans were at the center of Northern Plainsa€™ trade. The men built Fort Mandan, where they spent the winter. They also met a French-Canadian trader, Charbonneau, and his wife, Sacagawea, who joined the Corps as translators. A small group of men sailed back down the Missouri to bring back information about the expedition thus far. Westward Bound On April 7, 1805, the expedition was ready to move west.
Eight days later, the expedition passed the farthest point upstream on the Missouri known by Lewis to have been reached by white men. The men hunted buffalo and had their first grizzly bear sighting. In June, the party crossed the Missouri and discovered that two large rivers met. They had to decide which river was the Missouri. They chose the south fork and followed the river to the Great Falls. At this point, the men had to carry their canoes overland. They had reached the foot of the Rocky Mountains and wanted to meet the Shoshoni. After several days, the men came across a Shoshoni party.
Their leader was Cameahwait, who was Sacagaweaa€™s brother. They traded for horses with the Shoshoni and hired an Indian guide, Old Toby, to take them across the mountains. Once across the mountains, the men traveled down the Columbia toward the Pacific. They discovered that rapids and falls broke up the Columbia for almost a fifty-mile stretch. The men shot the rapids while the important supplies were carried by hand. They continued onward to the Pacific. The party built Fort Clatsop as their winter camp. By this time, the party had very little goods left to trade.
When the Clatsops would not sell them a canoe that they needed, Lewis told his men to steal it. In March 1806, the men turned eastward on their way home. Heading Home The men headed east up the Columbia, which was hard going. They decided to go overland instead and purchased horses from the Nez PercA©. Lewis also hoped to persuade them to send some guides and diplomats with them back east. The Nez PercA©, however, said it was too early to cross the mountains, but the Corps was determined to do so. They headed out but soon discovered it was impossible to keep to the trail, which was hidden under feet of snow.
They realized the difficulty of their undertaking but luckily came across two young Indians crossing the mountains and quickly engaged them as guides. Thus they reached the other side of the Continental Divide safely. Lewis and Clark parted company briefly in July. Lewis wanted to explore the northern river that had met the Missouri, the Maria. He hoped that it would extend far northward, giving the United States more land. He took a small party of men. After several days out, they got into a fight with some Blackfeet Indians and shot two. However, Lewis and his men escaped unharmed.
They met up with Clark at the Point of Reunion in present-day North Dakota, and the entire party continued on to Fort Mandan. Then they headed down the Missouri. They met trading boats, which gave them the first news of the country they had heard since their departure. They arrived in St. Louis on September 22, 1806. Lewis immediately sat down to write a report to Jefferson telling him of their discoveries. After the Expedition Lewis went to Washington in January and after that on to Philadelphia. He made plans to publish his journals. Jefferson also appointed him the governor of the Louisiana Territory.
Lewis, however, did little work, either on the journals or as the governor. He did not arrive in St. Louis until March 1808, at which point he was already experiencing bouts of depression and drinking heavily. In St. Louis, he attempted to set up a fur trade business with his friends and invested money in land speculation. He also spent money outfitting an expedition to return a Mandan chief to his homeland; however, the government decided not to reimburse him for these expenses. Lewis undertook a journey to Washington but died, apparently a suicide, on October 11, 1809.