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William Clark

He Made History with the Lewis and Clark Expedition


With Meriwether Lewis, William Clark led a 40-man mission across the uncharted American West in the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-06. ■ The expedition was planned by President Thomas Jefferson, possibly in contemplation of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. It didnít get underway, however, until after the purchase. ■ Lewis and Clark were directed to leave St. Louis in the spring, travel west to the Pacific Ocean via the Missouri and Columbia Rivers and return. At 33, Clark was the oldest man on the expedition. He was a younger brother of George Rogers Clark, who gained fame for his harassing tactics against the British. ■ William Clark was born August 1, 1770, in Carolina County, Virginia. He was descended from Scottish immigrants on both sides of his family. John Clark, his great-grandfather, was one of the earliest Scots to arrive in America. ■ Scott received very little formal education but became an excellent frontiersman. Too young for the Revolution, he joined the U.S. Army in 1789 and took part in the Indian wars. ■ Jeffersonís instructions were detailed. Lewis and Clark were asked to record everything of note along the way. This included temperature, rainfall, snow, hail, cloudy and clear days, plant and animal life, Indian attitudes and customs, rivers, valleys, hills, early and late frosts, etc. ■ The journals kept by Lewis and Clark were meticulous and comprehensive. They provided the nation with the first detailed report on the vast region that lay in the west. ■ In later years, Clark served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Louisiana Territory. Later he was appointed Governor of the Missouri Territory with headquarters at St. Louis where he died September 1, 1838.


Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546