Thomas Jefferson Papers

William Clark to Meriwether Lewis, 18 July 1803

William Clark to Meriwether Lewis

ClarksVille July 18th. 1803

Dear Lewis

I received by yesterdays Mail, your letter of the 19th. ulto: The Contents of which I recived with much pleasure—The enterprise &a. is Such as I have long anticipated and am much pleased With—and as my Situation in life will admit of my absence the length of time necessary to accomplish Such an undertakeing I will chearfully join you in an ‘official Charrector’ as mentioned in your letter, and partake of the dangers, difficulties, and fatigues, and I anticipate the honors & rewards of the result of Such an enterprise, Should we be successful in accomplishing it. This is an under takeing fraited with many difeculties, but My friend I do assure you that no man lives Whith Whome I would perfur to under take Such a Trip &c. as your Self, and I shall arrange My Matters as well as I can against your Arrival here.

It may be necessary that you inform the President of My acceding to the proposals, so that I may be furnishd with such Credentials as the nature of the Toure may require—Which I Suppose had best be fowarded to Louisville. The Objects of this Plan of Government, are Great and Worthey of that great Charecetor the Main-Spring of its Action—The Means with which we are furnished to carry it into effect, I think may be Sufficintly liberal—The plan of operation, as laid down by you (with a Small addition as to the out fit) I highly approve of.

I shall indeaver to engage (temporally) a few men, such as will best answer our purpose, holding out the Idea as stated in your letter—The subject of which has been Mentioned in Louisville several weeks agoe.

Pray write to me by every post after recving this letter, I shall be exceedingly anxious to here from you.

With every sincerity & frendship

Wm. Clark

Dupl (DLC); Clark first wrote the date as 17 before altering it to 18; addressed: “Captain Meriwether Lewis”; at foot of text: “Capt. Merriwether Lewis at Washington City or on his way to Pitts burgh”; below signature, indicated by a pointing hand: “Note one letter fowarded to Pitts burgh.” Dft (MoSHi: William Clark Papers); dated 17 July; at foot of text: “Cap. Merrweth Lewis Pitts burgh.” RC, not found, acknowledged by Lewis as a letter of 19 July (see Jackson, Lewis and Clark description begins Donald Jackson, ed., The Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with Related Documents, 1783-1854, 2d ed., Urbana, Ill., 1978 description ends , 1:115).

In his letter of 19 June, Lewis proposed that Clark could either take an official role in the expedition or could accompany Lewis “as a friend any part of the way up the Missouri.” If there should be anything “in this enterprise,” Lewis had written, “which would induce you to participate with me in it’s fatiegues, it’s dangers and it’s honors, believe me there is no man on earth with whom I should feel equal pleasure in sharing them as with yourself” (same, 60).

credentials: Lewis asserted that the president “has authorized me to say that in the event of your accepting this proposition he will grant you a Captain’s commission which of course will intitle you to the pay and emoluments attached to that office and will equally with myself intitle you to such portion of land as was granted to officers of similar rank for their Revolutionary services; the commission with which he proposes to furnish you is not to be considered temporary but permanent if you wish it.” In March 1804, Dearborn wrote Lewis to say that it would not be possible to give Clark a commission as captain of engineers as anticipated. Clark was instead made a lieutenant of artillery, but, Lewis assured him, his compensation “by G–d, shall be equal to my own” (same, 1:60, 172-3, 179; 2:572).

holding out the idea as stated in your letter: in discussions with any potential recruits for the journey, Lewis suggested “holding out the idea that the direction of this expedition is up the Mississippi to its source, and thence to the lake of the Woods.” Lewis expected to reveal the “real design” before requiring anyone to commit to the enterprise (same, 1:58).

Clark wrote to Lewis again on the 24th. Lewis received both letters at Pittsburgh by 3 Aug. (same, 112-13, 115; Dft of letter of 24th in MoSHi: William Clark Papers).

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