Meriwether Lewis was born Aug. 18, 1774 in Virginia. His family and the family of his future partner, William Clark, were close friends with former president Thomas Jefferson. Lewis moved to Georgia in 1780 and grew up hunting and spending time outdoors, becoming intensely interested in natural history. After completing school, he returned to Virginia. He assisted in quelling the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794, and in 1803, was asked by Jefferson to gather information about the Louisiana Territory.
Meriwether Lewis is most famous for his involvement in the historic Lewis & Clark expedition. He teamed up with his family friend and former Army commander William Clark to explore Jefferson's large purchase of territory. Their journey began in St. Louis, Missouri in May of 1804 with an intent of reaching the Pacific and learning as much about the land and native peoples as they could.
Lewis and Clark and their team, referred to by historians as the Corps of Discovery, received help from Sacagawea and Toussaint Charbonneau in navigating the land and negotiating with the natives. They reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805 and built Fort Clatsop in what is now Oregon. The Corps began their return journey in 1806. Lewis was shot in the thigh during a hunt in August of that same year.
Upon his return, Lewis received payment and 1,600 acres of land for his hard work. He was also named governor of the Louisiana Territory. Unfortunately, Lewis fell into depression and eventually committed suicide on Oct. 12, 1809. Some historians believe that he was murdered. Despite his tragic demise, Lewis is remembered in history as a courageous explorer.