Meriwether Lewis, A Captain In The Army, Was Selected By
Jefferson To Lead The Expedition.
Captain Lewis was a native
of Virginia, and at that time was only twenty-nine years old.
Been Jefferson's private secretary for two years and was,
of course, familiar with the President's plans and expectations
as these regarded the wonder-land which Lewis was to enter.
It is pleasant to quote here Mr. Jefferson's words concerning
Captain Lewis. In a memoir of that distinguished young officer,
written after his death, Jefferson said: "Of courage undaunted;
possessing a firmness and perseverance of purpose which
nothing but impossibilities could divert from its direction;
careful as a father of those committed to his charge,
yet steady in the maintenance of order and discipline;
intimate with the Indian character, customs and principles;
habituated to the hunting life; guarded, by exact observation
of the vegetables and animals of his own country, against losing
time in the description of objects already possessed;
honest, disinterested, liberal, of sound understanding,
and a fidelity to truth so scrupulous that whatever he should
report would be as certain as if seen by ourselves - with all
these qualifications, as if selected and implanted by nature
in one body for this express purpose, I could have no hesitation
in confiding the enterprise to him."
Before we have finished the story of Meriwether Lewis and his companions,
we shall see that this high praise of the youthful commander
was well deserved.
For a coadjutor and comrade Captain Lewis chose William Clark, also a
native of Virginia, and then about thirty-three years old.
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