Their River After The River

You might like to know a little more about a very revealing aspect of Lewis and Clark and their expedition of 1802-1806. It may be one of the most powerful connections between their history and your life.

After they finished their history-making journey, life took two very different turns for the pair of leaders. Meriwether Lewis lapsed into alcohol and drug use. He died just a few years following the expedition. The probablity is that he was murdered by one of his cronies in an ever-deepening underworld existence that Lewis had chosen to lead. Lewis also suffered from what we think was bipolarity. His decline may have been worsened by an emotional decline from which he never emerged.

Also, though, you need to know that Lewis spent much of his post-expedition time bickering, arguing, and complaining over translating the 1802-1806 experience into some form of profit. He wrote a book and fought off and on with publishers, merchants, and other gatekeeper in the world of popular media in the early 19th century. His emphasis on personal gain and prominence fueled his psychological and social troubles.

William Clark prospered. He succeeded in obtaining various political offices associated with the newly-traversed Louisiana Territory. He also had some success in operating businesses along the route westward through the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys. He did well.

Clark further avoided all the disputes that consumed so much of Lewis’s time and energy. Clark didn’t seem to care about generating public fame from his role in the journey. To be sure, Clark sought gain and advancement, but he didn’t careen into the swirl of self-promoting celebrity that bedeviled Lewis.

Their Rivers after the river were very different. You may one day stand at the point where two different directions can be taken. Choose well. Maybe this is truly the most valuable learning that we can find in Lewis and Clark.