Born August 18, 1774, in Ablemarle County, Virginia, Meriwether Lewis joined the Virginia militia in 1794 during the Whiskey Rebellion and in 1795 enlisted with the United States Army as a Lieutenant. In 1801 his formal education, leadership skills, and experiences made him the perfect choice to work side by side with President Thomas Jefferson as his personal secretary. After many talks with the President about an exploration to gather more information of the water systems, Meriwether Lewis was chosen to lead an overland expedition to look for a commercial water route to the Pacific Ocean.
Lewis & Clark Expedition
In 1803, Meriwether Lewis and Co-captain William Clark willingly set off to take on the risks and honors that would come along with leading this journey. After a year of studying with scientists, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, consisting of 35 members ventured into the unknown territory in 1804 and returned safely home to a heroic welcome after a successful 2 year exploration. During this time they completed nearly 8,000 miles by boat, horseback, and on foot. Upon their return to Washington D.C., the President awarded them with 1,600 acres of the land that they had explored and gave the Northern Louisiana Territory governorship to Meriwether Lewis.
In 1809, Lewis was traveling through the remote wilderness along the Natchez Trace in route to Washington D.C. Lewis had fallen ill and on the evening of October 10, 1809 Lewis and his party stopped at Grinder's Stand for the night. During the night, gunshots were heard and the next morning Lewis was found bleeding and fatally wounded from gunshots. After being found by his traveling companions he died just a few hours later at the young age of 35. Whether the great explorer was murdered or committed suicide is still a topic of controversy to this day. You can visit his gravesite and the monument placed over his grave at milepost 385.9 along the Natchez Trace Parkway.