- LEWIS, Meriwether, governor of Louisiana, was born near Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 18, 1774; the youngest son of Capt. William and Lucy (Meriwether) Lewis; grandson of Col. Robert and Jane (Meriwether) Lewis, and of Thomas Meriwether; great grandson of William Meriwether; great2 grandson of Nicholas Meriwether of Wales; and grand nephew of John Lewis, a member of the King's council before the Revolution, and of Fielding Lewis (q. v.), and nephew of Col. Nicholas Lewis, who commanded a regiment of Virginia militia in the successful expedition against the Cherokee Indians in 1776, and who on the death of Meriwether's father became his guardian. Meriwether attended a Latin school, 1787-92; [p.418] conducted his mother's farm, 1792-94; enlisted in the state militia called out by President Washington in 1794 to suppress the opposition to the excise taxes in western Pennsylvania, and then joined the regular service as lieutenant in the line. He was promoted captain in 1797, and became paymaster of the 1st U.S. infantry. In 1797 the American Philosophical society, through the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson, undertook to secure some competent person to ascend the Missouri river, cross the Stony mountains, and descend the nearest river to the Pacific. Captain Lewis, being then stationed at Charlottesville on recruiting duty, solicited Mr. Jefferson to he allowed to make the journey, but André Michaux, the botanist, was appointed and proceeded as far as Kentucky, when he was recalled by the French minister, then in Philadelphia, and the attempt was abandoned. Captain Lewis served as private secretary to President Jefferson, 1801-03, and when congress voted the money to carry out the President's project of crossing the continent to the Pacific, he was entrusted with the command of the enterprise with Capt. William Clark, as second in command. He pursued a course in the natural sciences and astronomical observations at Philadelphia and at Lancaster, Pa., preparatory to the undertaking. The instructions, signed by President Jefferson, Jan. 20, 1803, detailed the scientific, geographical, commercial and diplomatic purposes of the expedition and provided for all contingencies likely to arise. The treaty of Paris, April 13, 1803, had meantime transferred the Territory of Louisiana to the United States, and the information reached Washington about the first day of July. On July 5, 1803, Captain Lewis left Washington for Pittsburg, where he was to select his stores, outfit and men. Delays in preparation retarded the journey down the Ohio and the expedition could not enter the Missouri until,the ice had broken up in the spring of 1804. They ascended the Missouri to its sources, crossed to Rocky Mountains, struck the headwaters of the Columbia river, floated down that river to its mouth and explored much of the Oregon country. Their explorations covered nearly all the section south of the 49th parallel. They started for the east, March 23, 1806, and reached Washington, Feb. 14, 1807. Congress granted to the two chiefs and their followers the donation of lands which had been promised as a reward for their toil and dangers. Captain Lewis was soon after appointed governor of Louisiana and Captain' Clark commissioned a general in the militia and made agent of the United Slates for Indian affairs in the territory of Louisiana. On reaching St. Louis, the capital of the territory, Governor Lewis found much confusion in public affairs, and in September, 1809, set out to Washington to carry valuable vouchers of accounts and his journal of the expedition to and from the Pacific. His party was joined at Chickasaw Bluffs by Mr. Neiley, U.S. agent to the Chickasaw Indians, and his party and they proceeded together. While at the home of a Mr. Gruider in Kentucky, in a fit of hypochondria, Governor Lewis killed himself. In the selection of names for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, New York university, in October, 1900, his was one of the twenty-one names in "Class E, Missionaries and Explorers" and received thirteen votes, standing eighth in the class. He died Oct. 8, 1809.