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Meriwether Lewis Biography for Kids


This is a biography specifically written for kids about Meriwether Lewis


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Related Historical Events

Louisiana Purchase
Westward Expansion

The Epic Journey

Summer 1804 – Into the Wild
Late 1804 – Teton Sioux Territory
Winter 1804-1805 – the Mandans
April 1805 – Grizzly Country
Summer 1805 – Great Falls of the Missouri River
August 1805 – Shoshone Country
Fall 1805 – the Bitterroot
November 1805 – Columbia River
Winter 1805-1806 – Fort Clatsop
1806 – Return Trip

Meriwether Lewis Postage Stamp

Meriwether Lewis Postage Stamp

Meriwether Lewis was born on August 18, 1774 near Charlottesville, Virginia. Lewis grew up among the forests and wilderness of the Shenandoah Valley and developed a love of hunting and exploring. Lewis became a soldier at an early age and fought in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794. He soon became an officer in the Army and battled the Native Americans in the Northwest Territory of the new nation. Lewis became very educated about the Native Americans and even learned some of their languages.

As a neighbor and friend of the Lewis family, Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis as his personal secretary. He prepared Lewis for two years to explore the lands acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis studied plants, animals and navigation at the University of Pennsylvania in preparation. Lewis invited William Clark to co-lead the expedition. Although Congress authorized Lewis as the captain of the expedition, he insisted that he and Clark be considered co-captains during the journey.

Lewis and Clark spent over two years exploring the new frontier, mapping the terrain, and learning about and trading with various Indian tribes. Lewis was considered an outstanding leader, and was highly respected by the members of the Corps of Discovery. His journal, which recorded many (not all) of the events of the expedition, is one of the most important documents in American history. As Lewis and Clark made their way west, they were the first to confirm that there was no direct water passage across the continent (Northwest Passage).

After successfully establishing Fort Clatsop, Oregon, and after discovering over 300 new species of animals and plants throughout the Great Plains and western mountains, the pair returned. Meriwether Lewis was named the new governor of the Louisiana Territory. On October 11, 1809, Lewis was on his way to Washington D.C. on the famed Natchez Trace, when he mysteriously died at a hotel. Many believe he committed suicide, but others believe he was murdered.