DEAD: Meriwether Lewis

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Meriwether Lewis (aged 35)
Explorer (Lewis & Clark)

Meriwether Lewis (August 18, 1774 – October 11, 1809) was an American explorer, soldier, politician, and public administrator, best known for his role as the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, with William Clark.

Their mission was to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase, establish trade with, and sovereignty over the natives near the Missouri River, and claim the Pacific Northwest and Oregon Countryfor the United States before European nations. They also collected scientific data, and information on indigenous nations. President Thomas Jeffersonappointed him Governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806. He died of gunshot wounds in what was either a murder or suicide, in 1809.

DEATH: According to a lost letter from October 19, 1809, to Thomas Jefferson, Lewis stopped at an inn on the Natchez Trace called Grinder’s Stand, about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Nashville on October 10. After dinner, he retired to his one-room cabin. In the predawn hours of October 11, the innkeeper’s wife (Priscilla Grinder) heard gunshots. Servants found Lewis badly injured from multiple gunshot wounds, one each to the head and gut. He bled out on his buffalo hide robe and died shortly after sunrise. The Nashville Democratic Clarion published the account, which newspapers across the country repeated and embellished. The Nashville newspaper also reported that Lewis’s throat was cut. Money that Lewis had borrowed from Major Gilbert Russell at Fort Pickering to complete the journey was missing.

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