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Is There Possibility That Meriwether Lewis Was Murdered?

Introduction

Meriwether Lewis came to the political limelight on August 1794 after joining a group of 13,000 militiamen that was destined to quell the Whiskey Rebellion1. Lewis remained as a volunteer of the army after the revolt was suppressed. It was while serving in the army that he met William Clark, whom he later became acquainted with. A year later, Lewis crossed to the Chosen Rifle Company that was under the command of William Clark2. This helped cement not only their friendship but also fostered their respect. He became the captain of this company on December 5, 1800.

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Dillon (1965), notes that Lewis was summoned by his long time acquaintance, President Thomas Jefferson to become his private secretary and assistant in February 18013. A few months into the office, he was appointed to lead an expedition that was mandated by the president to study the western outreaches of the American continent. Following Congress’s approval of the expedition, Lewis embarked on recruiting those who were to accompany him, including his long-time foe William Clark who was to be his co-captain.

Owing to communication problems pertinent at the time, Clark’s acceptance of the offer was delayed forcing Lewis to seek Moses Hook’s companionship as his co-captain. However, despite this delay, Clark’s acceptance arrived. In earnest, the expedition began on May 14, 1804, and ended triumphantly in the late summer of 1806, after cruising more than 6,000 miles of wilderness4. Upon return from this expedition, he was awarded 16,000 acres of land in addition to being appointed as the governor of Louisiana Territory.

As a governor, his mandate included among others, defending the western lands from encroachers, a task that brought him in direct clash with settlers wishing to open new lands and settle. His style of leadership became questionable due to quarrels between him and local political leaders, approval of trading licenses as well as land grant politics among others. It was due to the above reasons among others that he decided to travel to Washington to appraise the president.

His Death

Lewis is said to have met his death on 18 October 1809, as he journeyed from New Orleans to Washington to see President Jefferson with a view of exonerating himself from the blame that had been advanced towards him and or, to explain him of his progress on publishing the journals he was contemplating to publish. This took place at an inn on the Natchez Trace called

Grinder’s Stand and ran by a Mrs. Grinder. It is at this point that one is presented with conflicting accounts and circumstances surrounding the death of Lewis, begging the question as to whether there is any possibility that Meriwether Lewis was murdered.

Discussion

Whereas those who advanced and or agreed to the suicide theory, including the president as well as his long time foe William Clark, based their reasoning on the mental state of Lewis at the material time, nevertheless the facts on the ground tell a different story, as they bear witness to the fact that Meriwether Lewis was actually and murdered through a well calculated and tailored conspiracy. First the possibility that Lewis was murdered stems from the conflicting/controversial accounts advanced by the owner of the inn where Lewis and his party had lodged on a fateful night, a one Mrs. Grinder.

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Mrs. Grinder, the tavern-keepers wife, an account of the incidence was contradictory over the years that followed the death. On that day Mr. Lewis died, Mrs. Grinder said that during dinner Lewis did not eat a lot, and was not comfortable as he roamed around the room talking to himself as if speaking to a lawyer5. She further testified that Lewis could not agree to sleep in the bed she had prepared for him as he preferred to sleep in the barn.

It was after she retired that she heard two to three gunshots and the voice of a person asking for help. She maintained that she witnessed Lewis moving slowly back to his room through an incision in the door. She further recounted that she witnessed Lewis cutting himself with his razor after shooting himself twice with two horse pistols6.

Interestingly Mrs. Grinder neither bothered to investigate the source of the gunshots nor made any effort to provide assistance, and to make the matter worse she even waited for about two hours before even sending her children to the barn to wake up the servants7. Six months into the incident Mrs. Grinder changed her version and alleged that at the time she got to Lewis, he was requesting one of his servants to end his misery by killing him quickly8.

Thirty years down the line she tendered another version. She alleged that shortly after Lewis had lodged three men that she had never seen priory, came to the compound and that their presence seemed to agitate and annoy Lewis. It is also under this third recount that she said that she heard two shots and not three9.

Days long after Lewis had been buried, an inquest was carried and it was found that the site of the wounds and absence of powder burn marks portrayed that Lewis was indeed murdered. Further, 1840s exhumation reports indicate that Lewis bore a wound in the back of the head depicting a gunshot that required the movements of a talented contortionist. What else, according to the findings of the state capital committee Meriwether Lewis was murdered.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, based on the contradictory versions tendered by the innkeeper one Mrs. Grinder, it is obvious that there exists a possibility that Meriwether Lewis was murdered. This is indeed corroborated by later developments over the issue such as the findings of the state capital committee among others.

Bibliography

Moore, Kathryn, “The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis.” Web.

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Dillon, Richard. Meriwether Lewis: A Biography. Coward-McCann, Inc. New York, New York, 1965.

West, Davidson,James,. “Nation of Nations.” A Narrative History of the American Republic 6th Ed, Vol. 1 to 1877.

Bernard, DeVoto (Ed.) The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition) Mariner Books. 1997.

Footnotes

  1. Dillon, Richard, 1965. Meriwether Lewis: A Biography. Coward-McCann, Inc. New York, New York.
  2. Ibid 45
  3. Bernard, DeVoto (Ed.) The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Lewis & Clark Expedition) Mariner Books. 1997.
  4. Moore, Kathryn, 2003.The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis.
  5. Ibid.
  6. West, Davidson, James, “Nation of Nations.” A Narrative History of the American Republic 6th Ed, Vol. 1 to 1877.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Moore, Kathryn, 2003.The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis.
  9. Ibid 89.

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StudyCorgi. "Is There Possibility That Meriwether Lewis Was Murdered?" December 20, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/is-there-possibility-that-meriwether-lewis-was-murdered/.

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