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The Perilous Afterlife Of The Lewis And Clark Expedition
The explorers who set out two hundred years ago were in danger for three years. Their legacy was in danger for decade after decade—and it was Meriwether Lewis who almost killed it.
June/July 2004 | Volume 55, Issue 3
These are the words of a man fully aware of the historic importance of what he is undertaking and confident of his own success. And he did succeed, splendidly and courageously. That he should kill himself just three years after achieving all he had set out to do is close to being unthinkable. Books have their fate, as the old tag puts it, but this was a strange fate indeed. Who would have guessed in 1806 that it would take nearly 200 years to see the words of Lewis and Clark fully into print? “Words can wait.” said Larrv McMurtrv in his review of Moulton’s edition. To be sure. But Meriwether Lewis did not just kill himself in that country inn in Tennessee. He very nearly killed his book as well.