In public appearances, I like to tell a story about my own experience with learning history.
United States History.
In South Carolina, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were tangential figures. They didn’t visit South Carolina, never called it home. History tends to focus on the familiar, the things we can experience beyond the immediate bounds of our classroom doors.
I remember a paragraph in my textbook:
“Lewis and Clark went to the Pacific with Sacagawea. Thomas Jefferson sent them. They came home. The end.”
Or something like that.
How boring. Lifeless. Banal.
It wasn’t until I read Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West by Stephen Ambrose that I started to see historical figures as people. Flesh and blood. Bone and sinew. Real human beings who struggled through challenges and faced the same foibles as I did.
Or maybe not the same.
Because Lewis and Clark and their randy band of twenty-something men didn’t just drag themselves up the Missouri River against the current. They screwed their way, their lust anchors penetrating the shore.
Because the Native Americans believed sex with the White Man stole their power, the Corps of Discovery usually disembarked after a week or more of grueling labor to find hoards of naked women ready to ‘do the business’, as Clark so eloquently put it.
Does Meriwether Lewis have direct descendants somewhere, products of his couplings with random strangers?
On the first day of his Birthday Month, I like to think there are pieces of him, roaming the earth somewhere.
A little awkward, maybe.
I hope I honor Meriwether Lewis as a hero in my debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. It’s getting great reviews, but it needs more readers.
Kindle copies of the book are $2.99 in honor of Meriwether Lewis’ birthday month, and a new paperback version is available now.
Click below to give Merry the birthday gift of remembrance.
Or, if you know someone who’s balked at paying $4.99 for a novel that’s garnering great reviews, share this post with them and let them know about the discounted price.
Heck, at $2.99, you can give the gift of reading to several people in your life.
TODAY’S MERIWETHER LEWIS BIRTHDAY MONTH TRIVIA QUESTION:
WE DON’T KNOW IF MERRY FATHERED ANY ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN IN HIS LIFETIME. HOW MANY DID CLARK SIRE DURING THEIR TRAVELS?