Born on August 18, 1774, Meriwether Lewis literally grew up with the new republic. He was exactly eight months old when Paul Revere made the legendary ride that signalled the beginning of the War of Independence, and the birth of the new United States of America, which Lewis was to serve with distinction.
In January of 1793 the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia accepted the proposal of one of its leading members, Thomas Jefferson, to send an overland expedition in search of the Northwest Passage, the fabled all-water route to the Pacific Ocean. Eighteen-year-old Meriwether Lewis eagerly volunteered to lead it, but his offer was rejected on account of his youth and inexperience. That expedition was soon aborted anyway.