Academic journal article The Historian

Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis

Academic journal article The Historian

Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis

Article excerpt

Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis. By Thomas C. Danisi. (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2012. Pp. 466. $26.00.)

The book under review is not a biography of Meriwether Lewis [1774-1809]. That came in 2009 when Thomas C. Danisi and John C. Jackson coauthored a biography of William Clark's co-leader on what may have been America's most perfect exploring expedition. This time Danisi--who obviously had more to say about Lewis than he could fit into a single volume--presents his material in a topical format rather than a chronological one. That is, each of the fourteen chapters in Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis centers on an event or happenstance that Danisi considers life changing in the man's life and career. Events that qualify include, for example, Lewis's potentially career-ending court martial in 1795 or his lapse into a reputed "fiscal house of cards" during his post-expedition term as the governor of Louisiana Territory (124).

Not neglected by Danisi are choices made by Lewis during the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Why, for example, did Lewis neglect his journal-keeping duties for extended periods of time while traveling across the uncharted West? Several of the most knowledgeable scholars of the expedition, among them Gary Moulton and Paul Russell Cutright, have suggested that Lewis was lax in his responsibility because he tired of the burden. Or, in the opinion of Stephen Ambrose, Lewis suffered from mental depression. Danisi disagrees and proves--at least to his own satisfaction--that Lewis, in fact, was actively collecting and describing items in the expedition's natural-history collection or he was attending to his weather diary and was therefore writing, just not in his journal. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.