CHARACTER OF MERIWETHER (PB)
Paper Back book.
Meriwether Lewis commanded the most important exploration mission in the early history of the United States. Clay S. Jenkinson takes a fresh look at Lewis, not to offer a paper cutout hero but to describe and explain a hyperserious young man of great complexity who found the wilderness of Upper Louisiana as exacting as it was exhilarating.
Jenkinson sees Lewis as a troubled soul before he left St. Charles, Missouri, in May 1804. His experiences in lands "upon which the foot of civilized man had never trodden" further fractured his sense of himself. His hiring William Clark as his "partner in discovery" was, Jenkinson shows, the most intelligent decision he ever made. When Clark was nearby, Lewis's leadership was stable and productive. When Clark was absent and thus unable to provide a calming influence on his mercurial friend, Lewis tended to get into trouble. Jenkinson argues that if Clark had been with Lewis on the Natchez Trace, the governor of Upper Louisiana would not have killed himself. Jenkinson sees Lewis's 1809 suicide not as an inexplicable mystery, but the culmination of a series of pressures that extend back to the expedition and perhaps even earlier.