Explorer. Born on a plantation in Albemarle County, Virginia, he and his family moved to Georgia when he was ten but by thirteen he was sent back to Virginia for an education by private tutors. By 1794 he had joined the Virginia militia, and was sent as part of a unit involved in putting down the Whiskey Rebellion. In 1795 he joined the regular army and for a brief period he was attached to a sub-legion of General Anthony Wayne commanded by Lieutenant William Clark. He served until 1801 achieving the rank of captain. Thomas Jefferson recruited Lewis as his secretary-aide that same year and he soon became involved in the planning of the the Corps of Discovery expedition across the Louisana Purchase. In 1803 Congress appropriated funds for the Expedition, and Lewis was commissioned its leader. With Jefferson's consent, Lewis offered the post of co-captain of the expedition to William Clark. The expedition took almost three years and solidified the United States’ claims to land across the continent, and acquainted the world with new species, new people and new territory. Upon the Corps’ successful return, Jefferson appointed Lewis governor of the Louisiana Territory and granted him a reward of 1500 acres. In October of 1809, while en route to Washington, D.C., Lewis died by violence at a wayside inn called Grinder's Stand outside Nashville, Tennessee. No completely satisfactory explanation for his death has ever been found. Mrs. John Grinder who served as his landlady on the last night of his life reported: “… heard the sound of a gunshot and then the sound of something heavy falling to the floor… followed by the words, “Oh Lord!” … heard the sound of another gunshot and in a few moments, Lewis’ voice … “Oh, Madame, give me some water and heal my wounds.” … [she] refused to leave the room where she had been sleeping … she waited nearly two hours before … [rousing] the servants. They came inside and found Lewis on his pallet … He had been [shot] in the side and once in the head. The buffalo robe that he lay on was soaked with blood and Lewis was barely hanging on to life. … He died just as the sun was rising.” Lewis was buried there on the property. The land is now the Meriwether Lewis State Park in Tennessee. Thomas Jefferson is credited with the inscription on Lewis' tombstone: Immaturus obi: sed tu felicior annos Vive meos, Bona Republica! Viva tuos (I died young: but thou, O Good Republic, live out my years for me with better fortune.) A year after his death, John Grinder, in whose home Lewis died, was brought before a grand jury on a warrant of murder. The charges were dismissed since no evidence or motive existed against him. Whether Lewis’ death was suicide, as was widely believed, or murder, as contended by his family, is still an open question.
Bio by: Iola