The critically acclaimed biography Meriwether Lewis, coauthored by Thomas C. Danisi, was praised for its meticulous research and for shedding new light on the adventurous life and controversial death of the great explorer who became famous through the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Now, the author, with some help from contributors, extends his groundbreaking studies of Meriwether Lewis with this compilation of historical essays that offers new findings based on recently discovered documents, tackling such intriguing subjects as:
-The court-martial of Meriwether Lewis: Danisi’s discovery of the astonishing never-before published transcript of the entire court-martial proceedings affords him the distinction of being the first historian to mine the document for the many insights it offers into the then-untested twenty-one-year-old officer, who eloquently defended himself and won his case.
-Documentation straight from the medical ledgers of Dr. Antoine Saugrain, the physician who treated Governor Lewis, which helps to confirm that Lewis suffered from malaria prior to his celebrated trek to the Pacific Ocean with the Corps of Discovery and continuing through his service as governor of the Louisiana Territory. Was Lewis’s death, as reported, the result of suicide, or was he merely a victim of this episodic and incurable disease?
-Documentation that proves the true nature of the much-discussed Gilbert Russell Statement given at the court-martial of General James Wilkinson. Some historians have argued that Wilkinson orchestrated Lewis’s murder, but Danisi’s research sets the record straight.
-The role of Major James Neelly in Lewis’s last days. This subject has gained much prominence through the History Channel, according to which Neelly supposedly lied to President Thomas Jefferson about his presence at Meriwether Lewis’s burial, but Danisi has evidence to the contrary.
The author presents an abundance of additional material to fill in previous historical gaps regarding the mysteries and controversies surrounding Lewis’s life and death. In doing so, he paints a vivid picture of the brilliant rise of an ambitious young man by virtue of courage, talent, and political connections, and the tragic fall of a conscientious public servant under the weight of chronic illness, bureaucratic pettiness, and the political intrigue that was rampant throughout America’s Wild West.
This superb contribution to Meriwether Lewis research is a must-read for students and scholars of American history and anyone with an interest in one of our nation’s most important explorers and public servants.
"History is filled with mysteries, one of the most persistent of which concerns Meriwether Lewis, whose erratic behavior during his epic journey across North America followed by his controversial death soon after has baffled historians for two centuries. Scholars have long believed that ‘the truth’ or a logical explanation could never be known; otherwise it would have surfaced as a result of the extensive research that preceded the bicentennial of the expedition. At last the truth has surfaced thanks to the persistence and diligence of historian Thomas C. Danisi. Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis is a must-read for anyone interested in the Corps of Discovery and its pivotal role in the exploration of the American West."
HERMAN J. VIOLA, Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution
"Danisi is a first-rate historical detective. He has discovered more new sources about the life and times of Meriwether Lewis than any researcher alive, and in this book he lays it all out. Here we meet Lewis as defendant in a trial, as a doctor’s patient, and as a harried fiscal manager. Even readers who think they know Lewis will find surprises in this book."
CAROLYN GILMAN, author of Lewis and Clark: Across the Divide
"Passionately argued and painstakingly researched, Danisi’s study of Meriwether Lewis brings new insights into the life of one of America’s most misunderstood heroes."
LANDON JONES, author of William Clark and the Shaping of the West
"Danisi’s latest work on the life of Meriwether Lewis is a gem! The book’s vignettes clarify underappreciated or controversial aspects of Lewis’s life, such as his health. Prior to Danisi’s work, historians attributed Lewis’s death to suicide as a result of lifelong depression, but Danisi hypothesized that the explorer’s untimely death was brought on by ‘the ague’ or malaria. In Uncovering the Truth about Meriwether Lewis, Danisi delivers the proof. The scholarship is backed with additional new evidence and supported with never-before published documentation. A must-read for those interested in Lewis’s controversial life and his crucial role in the assimilation of the Louisiana Purchase."
R. MARK BULLER, PHD, professor of virology, Saint Louis University
"Thomas Danisi has followed up the excellent biography Meriwether Lewis with another exhaustively researched chronicle of important turning points in Lewis’s life. Danisi uncovers truths regarding Lewis’s successful defense at his court-martial, his contested relationship with the bureaucrats in the War Department, and the little known facts surrounding his controversial death. Danisi has emerged as the Meriwether Lewis expert of this generation."
JAY H. BUCKLEY, author of William Clark: Indian Diplomat and coauthor of By His Own Hand? The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis