William Clark Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

William Clark was born into a prominent family that traditionally mixed in affairs of the state as well as the nation. He was the ninth child. His second eldest brother was George Rogers Clark, the famous American Revolutionary general. In 1784 the Clarks left their Virginia home for Louisville, Kentucky. From his days as a youth Clark made various expeditions against Americans Indians. On March 7, 1792, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the infantry. After four years of service he had become bored with army life. He resigned his commission and subsequently traveled widely in the West. In 1803 he received a letter from Meriwether Lewis—who had, at one time, served under him—offering him the coequal leadership of the expedition to the Pacific. Clark accepted and met Lewis in Illinois, where men were enlisted and trained during the winter for the expedition, which began the next spring. From the west bank of the Mississippi River at St. Louis, the trip extended up the Missouri River to its headwaters, down the Snake and the Columbia Rivers to the sea, and back, in one of the great explorations of all times. Because of the skill of Lewis and Clark, the trip was a complete success. They returned to St. Louis on September 23, 1806.

After the return of the two men, Clark resigned from the army on February 27, 1807. He was immediately appointed brigadier-general of militia for the Louisiana Territory. He married and settled in St. Louis and was made...

(The entire section is 440 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Ambrose, Stephen E. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Provides comprehensive details of the expedition as well as historical context.

Hunsaker, Joyce Badgley. Sacagawea Speaks: Beyond the Shining Mountains with Lewis and Clark. Guilford, Conn.: Two Dot Books, 2001. Details the contributions of the American Indian woman who was a major figure in the expedition.

Lavender, David. The Way to the Western Sea: Lewis and Clark Across the Continent. 1988. Reprint. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. Chronicles the expedition and contributions of Lewis and Clark.

Ronda, James P. Lewis and Clark Among the Indians. Rev. ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002. An ethnohistorical perspective of the expedition. The 2002 edition features a new introduction by the author to commemorate the bicentennial of the expedition.

Steffen, James O. William Clark: Jeffersonian Man on the Frontier. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977. A full-length biography.