William Clark


William Clark
William Clark was born in Virginia, where he was educated at home. His five older brothers fought during the Revolutionary War, and after its conclusion the two eldest arranged for the family to be relocated to Kentucky. While in Kentucky, William’s brother George taught him wilderness survival skills, which would later come in handy during his trek across America. While the Revolutionary War had ended, however, the Northwest Indian War was being fought in Kentucky, and in 1789, Clark joined a volunteer militia force. A year later, he was commissioned as a captain in the Clarksville, Indiana militia. From 1790 to 1795, Clark served under several different generals, until at last the Northwest Indian War was concluded. He resigned in 1796 due to poor health and retired to his family’s home, where he remained until 1803, when Merriwether Lewis recruited him on an expedition across northwestern America. Clark agreed, and the two set out to search for a trade passage to Asia and to claim the Oregon territory for the United States. Clark’s duties consisted primarily of mapmaking, hunting, and managing supplies, while Lewis studied the indigenous peoples, animals, and plant life.

Upon their return to Washington, Clark was appointed general of the militia in the Louisiana Territory, as well as the agent for Indian affairs. He led several campaigns during the War of 1812, and when the Missouri Territory was established in 1813, President James Madison made him its governor, a post that he maintained until Missouri was made a state in 1820. Afterwards, he was appointed Superintendant of Indian Affairs, and while he tried to maintain peaceful relations with the native peoples, he was involved in President Andrew Jackson’s infamous Indian Removal Policy.

Clark married Julia Hancock in 1808, and after her death in 1820, he married her first cousin, Harriet Radford. Harriet passed away in 1831, only a few years before Clark’s own death. He was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery, where a 35-foot obelisk marks his grave.

Key events during the life of William Clark:

Moved to Kentucky.
Served during the Northwest Indian War.
Became a captain in the Indiana militia.
Expedition to the Pacific Ocean.
Appointed general of the militia in the Louisiana Territory.
Married Julia Hancock.
Served during the War of 1812.
Served as governor of the Missouri Territory.
Death of Julia.
Married Harriet Radford.
Death of Harriet.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Long Journey  in  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans  by  Edward Eggleston
Captain Clark's Burning Glass  in  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans  by  Edward Eggleston
Lewis and Clark  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
Lewis and Clark—I  in  Trails of the Pathfinders  by  George Bird Grinnell
Jefferson—How the Door Was Opened  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Bird Woman Meets Lewis in  Bird Woman —Guide of Lewis and Clark  by   James Willard Schultz

Image Links

William Clark
 in Opening the West with Lewis and Clark

Short Biography
Merriwether Lewis With William Clark, followed the Missouri river to its source, crossed the Rockies and followed the Columbia to the Pacific Ocean.
Winnemucca Chief of a Piute tribe. First befriended the white settlers, but rebelled when his tribe was mistreated.
Thomas Jefferson Third President. Author of the Declaration of Independence. Founder of Democrat-Republican Party.
Sacajewea Indian woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark during their explorations of the Louisiana Purchase.
George Rogers Clark Revolutionary war hero who fought both British and Indians in the Ohio Valley.