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The Afterlives of Lewis and Clark

From Southern California Quarterly
  • Stephen Aron

Abstract

This essay maps the fall and rise of Lewis and Clark by exploring what happened to the explorers following the return of the Corps of Discovery to St. Louis in September 1806. Charting the personal descent of Meriwether Lewis and the political undoing of William Clark, the article ties the sad fate of the cocaptains to the far sadder fate of race relations on the American frontier. Turning, then, from the lives of Lewis and Clark after the expedition to their afterlives, it tracks how, in the years since the deaths of Lewis and Clark, Americans have forgotten and now remember them, how the cocaptains have been joined by Sacagawea and York in the American imagination, and what this resurrection tells us about them—and us.

Keywords

Indian Woman Indian Land Indian Affair United States Government Printing American Imagination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Jefferson quoted in Betty Houchin Winfield, “Public Perception of the Expedition,” in Alan Taylor, ed., Lewis and Clark: Journey to Another America (St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society Press, 2003), 187.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803, in Gunther Barth, ed., The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Selections from the Journals Arranged by Topic (Boston, MA: Bedford, 1998)Google Scholar
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    I discuss the political situation that Lewis confronted in the Louisiana Territory in detail in Stephen Aron, American Confluence: The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005)Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, June 20, 1803, in Barth, ed., The Lewis and Clark Expedition, quotation on 20; Clark quoted in Buckley, “William Clark,” 113. On the education of Lewis and Clark and their reeducation from St. Louis merchants, see James Ronda, Lewis and Clark among the Indians (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), 1–16Google Scholar
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  25. 29.
    Robert B. Betts, In Search of York: The Slave Who Went to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2000, rev. ed.), 135–43Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Organization of American Historians 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Aron

There are no affiliations available

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