The suicide of meriwether lewis Essay

This essay has a total of 1368 words and 10 pages.

The suicide of meriwether lewis







The Suicide of Meriwether Lewis




A report by
Charles Emmett Chatham IV

















31 January 2000













Chatham 1

In the early hours of October 11, 1806, while en-rout to Wasington to defend himself
against accusations made on him in accordance to the fiancial decisions made by him as
govoner of the Louisian teritory,Meriwether Lewis shot himself in the head with his own
pistol at Natchez Trace.1 However, the ball only grazed his skull. Of course, after
doing so he fell to the floor in pain. After this, Lewis drew his second pistol, and shot
himself in the chest, this passing through his body and exiting at his lower back bone.
However, once again, he survived this blow. By now he had aroused Mrs. Grinder, the
innkeeper at Natchez Trace, who sent for the servants in the barn. After entering
Meriwether’s room she saw Lewis cutting himself with a razor. At this point he exclaimed,
“I am no coward;



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but I am so strong, [it is] so hard to die.” At this point Lewis pleaded with the servants to take
his rifle and kill him; he even offered them money and the assurance that no ill fate
would come to them. After dawn, Meriwether Lewis’ hart stopped beating. 3 To understand
why such a well respected man, and explorer took his own life we must examine what
composed his life, this being his upbringing and major events and influences in his life.4

Meriwether Lewis was born August 18, 1774, the same year of the Boston Tea Party, in
Rockfish Gap, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here the East met the West.5 Lewis
had the advantages of living in the wilderness to sharpen his hunting and wilderness
skills, but when the availability of schooling from the East.6 Meriwether Lewis was born
on the eve of the revolution. He was brought up with a very anti-

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British attitude. Meriwether also was brought up knowing of what his ancestors had
accomplished. For instance Robert Lewis, a Welshman, was one who moved from Britain to
the wilderness of Virginia, on a grant from the King of England of thirty-three thousand
thirty three and a third arcs of land. However, the most substantial Lewis, other than
Meriwether, was Thomas Lewis. Thomas Lewis accompanied Peter substantial Lewis, other
than Meriwether, was Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s father exploring the Northern Neck
between the Potomac and the Rappahannnock. He was also the first to keep a very accurate
log of all that they saw and did while on their expedition. Thus, this led on to his
predisposition to “ramble” in the woods for hours.8

Progressing into Meriwether Lewis’ life we find that he is acutely a rather average
person. In the field of education he had not learned a substantial

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amount of Latin to use well, nor orthography ever to be completely capable of spelling.
However, Meriwether did excel in biology along with a solid base in mathematics, natural
history, geometry, philosophy and the classics.9

After his upbringing and schooling Lewis fit the perfect Virginian stereotype. He was
hospitable and generous, courteous in relation to his peers, chivalrous, and kind to his
inferiors, though he did separated them as his inferiors. Along with this he had the less
admirable part of the stereotype, he was an alcoholic. However, to compensate for this
Meriwetehr was extraordinarily honest. In this he prided himself in, his word was his
bond whether written or spoken.10 As a plantation owner, Lewis found himself rater good at
managing his farm, though he never worked a single day doing physical work,


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Lewis did a very good job of managing his plantation.11
The next step in Meriwether Lewis’ life becoming a soldier. Meriwether was inspired to
become a soldier in response to the president’s call for troops to put down the Whisky
Rebellion. As Private Lewis entered the army, he was subjected to many hardships of this
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