Different Drummers

Page 3 of 3

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

Napoleon, by Houdon Giraudon, Paris

bust of Napoleon

Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) was the foremost exponent of Neoclassical sculpture in France during the Enlightenment. He is better known in America for his statues of early American heroes, including Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and the Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones (1747-1792). His George Washington, which stands in the state capitol at Richmond, Virginia, was commissioned by the Virginia Legislature at the urging of Thomas Jefferson in 1791.

Neither Meriwether Lewis nor William Clark was memorialized in sculptures until 1904 when two obscure artists, Charles Lopez and F. W. Ruckstuhl, created the captains' images for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1905 the sculptures were transferred to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. It is thought they were made of "staff," a temporary material of plaster and wood fiber painted to resemble marble. Evidently they were destroyed after the closing of the Oregon exposition.

Also in 1904 a bronze bust of Clark by an unknown sculptor was placed at the base of a stone monument at his gravesite in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis. In 1927 lifesize bronze sculptures of the two captains by James Earle Fraser were unveiled in the Great Hall of the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The date that Americans and Austrians called the 7th day of April, 1805 A.D. was, for the French people, the 18th day of the month of Germinal, in the year XIV of the Republican calendar.

It was a quiet day for the thirty-six-year-old Bonaparte, who was between conquests in the first of three successive wars. He signed a few letters and issued a few orders, unaware that it was his doomsday—the day Great Britain and Russia sealed a fateful alliance against him.

It is doubtful that any of the Corps of Discovery knew anything of Beethoven, nor he of them. Lewis may have heard his name mentioned in the social circles he frequented during his tenure as Jefferson's secretary, but the President himself is not known to have had any interest in German music. No, the men of the Corps, including the two captains, probably would have preferred another kind of music—the shrill martial cadence of fife and drum, playing popular tunes like "Yankee Doodle."

Moreover, not until 1843 would there be an orchestra anywhere north of Mexico City large enough to play the Eroica symphony.

Lewis and Clark . . . Beethoven . . . Bonaparte. All they had in common was their age, their courage, and some historical coincidences that converged on April 7, 1805.

Each marched to a different drummer.