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Meriwether Lewis

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Meriwether Lewis (1774 - 1809) blended solitary reading with life experience.

meriwether lewis charles willson peale portrait
Meriwether Lewis portrait
by Charles Willson Peale, 1807

Tutored at home, he chose estate management and a military career over college. Eventually, he received a unique education when he led the Corps of Discovery to the West Coast and back. To prepare for this trek he studied mathematics, astronomy, botany and medicine in Philadelphia. During the expedition, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark filled volumes with observations, creating primers on the West for scholars and the explorers who followed. Coming from Virginia's landed aristocracy, Meriwether lewis grew up admiring his illustrious neighbor George Washington. In 1794, President Washington ordered the military response to the Whiskey Rebellion. Lieutenant Lewis participated in the action, as did Daniel Morgan.