MERIWETHER LEWIS by Richard Dillon


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Dillon is out to re-establish Lewis's stature as the Great American Explorer responsible for our acquisition of the lands west of the Mississippi. Lacking the success of his expedition with Clark, the United States today might well be a rather small federation surrounded by huge French, British and Spanish territories. Few will argue with this logical possibility, though in all likelihood the continent would have been ravaged by enormous wars on the scale of Europe's Thirty Year debacle. His theories aside, Dillon's great success is his complete picture of the career of a truly extraordinary man. Lewis was all ready at eighteen to map out the Northwest Passage singlehandedly, but Jefferson thought him just too young. Jefferson was probably right, for ten years later it was Lewis's mature skill at handling men that held the expedition together. They were rough, unruly men in buckskins, but Lewis in ordinary civil dress kept them disciplined. He avoided fighting Indians and other dangers that might have wrecked his mission. He was a passionately headstrong, intelligent, self-sufficient man, private secretary to Jefferson, was finally named Governor of Upper Louisiana, took to drink, had periods of derangement and was murdered or committed suicide. This biography's final effect is quite poignant, particularly during Lewis's last days.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1965
Publisher: Coward-McCann