In 1809, Meriwether Lewis, heroic explorer and co-leader of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, set out for Washington, D.C. He had been appointed as governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory by President Thomas Jefferson, but was plagued by personal and professional problems.
The entire journey was plagued by problems. Lewis fell ill, and temporarily lost his pack horses, which were carrying his journals, but finally arrived at a lonely inn on October 10, 1809. Mrs. Grinder, the owner’s wife, found places for Lewis and the three men accompanying them. Lewis was given a cabin of his own. This is when the story becomes very strange.
At about 3:00 the next morning, two gunshots came from Lewis’ cabin. Mrs. Grinder apparently did not think to check on her guest. Lewis finally managed to crawl to her door. At last, two hours later, Mrs. Grinder notified Lewis’ servants that he had been shot. They found Lewis on his bed, dying.
Jefferson apparently accepted that Lewis had committed suicide, but many questions remain. How did Lewis manage to shoot himself twice? Contradictory statements by Mrs. Grinder, her husband, and the three men who had accompanied him further complicated the story. And even Jefferson later said that Lewis had been murdered. Numerous conspiracy theories have been put forth, especially since many people stood to gain substantially by his death.
It is said that Lewis’ ghost still haunts the place where he died. A lonely voice is heard to say, “I am no coward.”
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