Lewis And Clark 10 Point

Ten facts about Lewis Clark

1. Drunken Brawls

Lewis and Clark met in 1795, when Lewis was transferred to Clark’s company of elite rifle shooters. The reason for the transfer? Lewis’s punishment for getting into a drunken brawl.

2. Plant Spies

Before Lewis and Clark, there were other plans to explore the West. In 1793, Jefferson sent the experienced French botanist Andre Michaux on an exploring expedition. So why do we celebrate Lewis and Clark, but not Michaux? It turns out Michaux was actually a secret agent working for the French Republic. He was using the expedition as an excuse to recruit an army of American militia and attack Spanish settlements beyond the Mississippi River.

3. Presidential Rain

Before Lewis departed, Jefferson gave him a letter of credit allowing him to draw on any section of the U.S. government for any reason. Unlimited letter of credit from the president? Why hasn’t that been done ever again?

4. By the rockets red glare

Worries about security among the Native tribes led the Corps to bring the largest arsenal of gunpowder weapons ever seen in Missouri, let alone west of the Mississippi. They were more of a mini-army than a group of gentlemen naturalists.

5. Janey

Because the members of the expedition had a hard time pronouncing her name. They just called Sacagawea “Janey.”

6. Spanish Police

The Spanish were (rightfully) concerned about what this expedition could mean for their territories just to the south of the Louisiana Purchase. So they sent out four different parties to find Lewis and arrest him.

7. Native Firepower

During a hunting trip with Cruzatte (a member of the Corps), Lewis was shot in the butt. Luckily the bullet passed through, but Lewis feared further attack. Cruzatte insisted he didn’t fire the shot, so it could only mean they were being ambushed by Native Americans. They found no one. Hmm.

8. Ye Olde Copyright

One of the expedition members, Sergeant Gass, sold his journal to a publisher before the official publication by Lewis was ready. Lewis wrote a public letter arguing why readers should support only the official account (created by him). In return, Gass’s publisher publicly ridiculed Lewis, dismissing him as less than Mackenzie.

9. Suicidal Tendencies

In the last year of his life, Lewis was taking opium regularly to help with malarial attacks (a side-effect of the expedition). The last year of his life was only 1809: that autumn he committed suicide. He shot himself, twice, and when that didn’t work, he cut himself with a razor.

10. Brown Mercury

Speaking of diseases, one of the favorite methods for treating illness was the administration of tablets laced with mercury. Mercury—which is fatally poisonous at worst, but passes right through the body at best. Today scholars can even trace certain routes the expedition took because of mercury, er, deposits.