This Day in History, May 21.
On this date, May 21, 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition began. And of course we all know what the Lewis and Clark Expedition was about. It was about looking over the western part of this continent to determine if it was worth anything. It led to the Louisiana Purchase.
But what happened to Lewis and Clark afterwards? I don’t know of anything out of the ordinary for William Clark except that his first wife died and he married the second time around to his first cousin. Meriwether Lewis is a different story.
Lewis went and got himself killed.
President Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory. In September 1809 Lewis went to Washington DC to present the War Department with his expense account, which he expected a reimbursement. He was turned down and headed back home. He was on Natchez Trace, which was sort of a highway between Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee. He stopped to stay overnight at an Inn called Grinder’s Stand. Before sunrise on October 11, 1809, shots were heard from his room. The servants found Meriwether shot with multi-gunshot wounds, several in his body and one in his head. It is believed Meriwether Lewis committed suicide. Suicide with multi-gunshot wounds – is that possible? I get lost in the details but it appears that the innkeeper’s wife Priscilla Grinder gave at least five conflicting statements in her testimony during the inquest.