Meet Meriweather Lewis: A Blast From the Past
Scholastic Student Reporter
Merriweather Lewis and William Clark led an amazing journey into unexplored American territory and forged a route that linked the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. They endured all types of hardships along the way weather, hostile Native Americans, illness, and unfamiliar terrain.
Two hundred years after their mission, on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky, Lewis and Clark met again. Two actors portrayed the explorers in a reenactment of their preparation for the cross-country trip.
"I've learned this much," said Lewis to Scholastic News Online of his present day journey to Louisville by keelboat, "you can't move a wooden boat more than 5 miles per hour even if you wanted to."
Lewis, played by actor Scott Mandrell of Alton, Illinois, stayed in character to explain his mission.
"I am here at the falls of the Ohio to meet with William Clark, who was my former company commander when I served under General Wayne in the Legion during the Whiskey Rebellion," he said. "Mr. Jefferson gave me the opportunity to choose a co-commander for this expedition and I could think of no finer man more aptly suited for the journey than William Clark."
Clark. played by Louisville's own Bud Clark, explained that although his men called him Captain, he did not receive his commission until long after his death. President Bill Clinton granted the commission, which now hangs in Bud Clark's home, during special White House ceremonies on January 17, 2001.
He was promised a captain's commission, but only became a lieutenant a full grade lower than his army office.
"I would have been extremely upset," Clark said when asked how his he, acting as Captain Clark, would have felt in Woods River when he received the lower rank. "I also would have done as Clark did and gone forward. It is interesting to note that in all the journals the men always referred to Clark as Captain Clark. They were not aware of...his actual rank."
The group of explorers including actors representing the nine men from Louisville recruited for the trip by Lewis and Clark posed for photographers in front of York's statue. The 950-pournd bronze of York, looking west at the vast lands before him, was a fitting backdrop for the modern men in period clothes there to honor him.
William Clark as played by a descendent, Bud Clark of Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo: Babs Robinson)
Meriwether Lewis as played by Scott Mandrell of Alton, Illinois, with Scholastic News Online Student Reporters Walker Robinson and Abby Woerhle. (Photo: Babs Robinson)