Our Lewis and Clark Journal – Day 1
Day 1. Charlottesville, Virginia (Birthplace of Meriwether Lewis)
On May 14th, 1804, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and the 29 men who made up the Corps of Discovery, set out from St. Louis to work their way up the Missouri River on what is deservedly called “the most remarkable expedition in United States History.”
On May 14th, 2013 (209 years later), our family set out to trace this same path through our national history and across our national landscape. Once under way, Lewis and Clark were gone a total of 28 months. Our family trip will take 28 days: one day for each month of the original adventure. Like Lewis, we are reading books, many of which will be reviewed or recommended here. Like Clark, we are purchasing supplies and making maps. Most of our trip will be by car, though we will spend considerable time walking, hiking, biking, camping and canoeing. And we are exercising our imaginations. This blog will record our living encounter with the early history of our nation.
Meriwether Lewis was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, the first stop on our itinerary. He grew up at Locust Hill, the family farm established by his father, who died in the revolutionary war. Lewis served in the army himself, where he first met, and learned to trust, Lieutenant William Clark. Thomas Jefferson would later write that Lewis “was remarkable even in infancy for enterprise, boldness and discretion. When only 8 years of age, he habitually went out in the dead of night alone with his dogs, into the forest to hunt the raccoon & opossum. In purpose, plunging thro’ the winter’s snows and frozen streams in pursuit of his object.”
Charlottesville is full of Lewis and Clark history, and we soaked up as much as we could.
As a resident of Albemarle County, Virginia, Lewis was also neighbor to the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, our third, fourth and fifth presidents. Visiting their homes will be the focus of Day 2.
Recommended Reading: National Geographic Society, Lewis and Clark: Voyage of Discovery. Text by Stephen Ambrose. Photographs by Sam Abell. (1998). Hours of dreaming about and planning our trip have been spent with Ambrose’s words and Abell’s images in front of us.