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Title Volume 19: Journal and memorandum book of William Clark
Archival Reference A0289
Sub-collection William Clark Papers  
Author Clark, William (1770-1838)  
Date 1792-1794
Document Type Diary
Contents Volume 19: Journal and memorandum book of William Clark.
Sub-collection Information The William Clark Papers include correspondence, maps, commissions, receipts, bills, bound volumes and other types of material that document Clark’s family life, his government work, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The papers include material relating to the expedition, including correspondence between Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they prepared for the trip, maps, journal drafts, and detachment orders, dated 1803-1807. Correspondence between Clark and Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, and John Conrad deals with matters of specimens collected on the journey and with the publication of the captains’ journals.

Correspondence dating from Clark’s tenure as governor of the Missouri Territory covers a multitude of topics ranging from the appointment of local officials to relations with the various Native American tribes living in the territory. Other letters and notes are written to Clark asking him for favors, assistance with particular situations such as trade, and even money. Official documents include Clark’s commissions and petitions and general orders relating to the militia.

The papers include letters, memorandum books of Julia Clark, and land documents that relate to Clark’s personal affairs and those of his family. Clark and other family members owned land in Kentucky; therefore, there are letters between Clark and his representative in Louisville, and brother-in-law Dennis Fitzhugh. There are two letters from his daughter Mary Margaret, who died at the age of seven while in Kentucky. In addition, there are receipts and bills concerning work done on William Clark’s home primarily in 1835 but also in 1837.

There is also much correspondence that is difficult to define but which mostly alludes to trade, relations with various tribes, and ventures to the West. People dealing with Clark in either an official or unofficial capacity include Auguste Chouteau, John C. Luttig, George Shannon, Benjamin O'Fallon, John O'Fallon, and Pierre Menard.

William Clark was born August 1, 1770, in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of John Clark, III, and Ann Rogers. He was the youngest of six sons and the ninth of ten children. Although he was not formally educated, Clark did acquire the rudiments of learning in his childhood, and gained practical outdoor experience in both surveying and cartography. At the age of 14 his parents took William and the three youngest Clark daughters to Kentucky, where in 1785 they established Mulberry Hill outside of Louisville. The family plantation was William's home for the next 18 years.

Clark's military career began in 1789 when he joined a local militia that led campaigns against Indian tribes north of the Ohio River. In March 1792 he joined the regular army as a lieutenant of infantry. Clark demonstrated diplomatic skill in his investigation of a Spanish fort that had been built on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis in violation of the Treaty of San Lorenzo. He resigned from the military in 1796 to begin a career as a merchant supplying goods to the city of Louisville. Seven years later Clark's friend and military colleague Meriwether Lewis invited him to join as co-commander of an expedition to explore the far northwest under the sponsorship of the federal government.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis in May 1804, and arrived in present-day North Dakota by that November, spending winter there with the Mandan Indians. In the spring of 1805 they moved on to the Great Falls of the Missouri River in present-day Montana before crossing the Continental Divide. By Christmas the expedition had reached the ocean and settled into winter quarters at Fort Clatsop on the Pacific Coast. The explorers left the Pacific Northwest in the spring of 1806 and arrived back in St. Louis on September 23 of that year.

After the expedition, President Jefferson appointed Clark Indian agent for the Louisiana Territory and brigadier general of the territorial militia. Missouri was established as a separate territory in 1813, and Clark was appointed territorial governor. Clark's views on Indian relations extended to trying to assimilate the Indian people, an unpopular policy in his day, which led to his defeat in Missouri's first state gubernatorial election in 1820. In 1822 Clark was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs in St. Louis. In 1824-1825 he served as surveyor general for Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, and in 1828 he laid out the town of Paducah, Kentucky.

William Clark married Julia Hancock in 1808, and they had five children: Meriwether Lewis Clark (born 1809); William Preston Clark (born 1811); Mary Margaret Clark (1814-1821); George Rogers Hancock Clark (born 1816); John Julius Clark (born 1818). A year after Julia Clark's death in 1820, Clark married Harriet Radford, a cousin of his deceased wife. The couple had two children: Jefferson Kearny Clark (born 1824) and Edmund Clark (born 1826). Harriet Clark died in 1831. William Clark spent his last years in the vicinity of St. Louis, where he died September 1, 1838, at the home of his eldest son. He is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.
Region American Midwest  
Subjects Stores and Supplies  Expeditions and Exploration  Travel and Transportation  Labour and Employment  Food and Nutrition  Banking and Finance  Military History  Climate  River  Wildlife and Nature  Settlers and Settlement  American Indians  Indigenous Peoples  Kickapoo People  Livestock  Commerce and Trade  Domestic Life and Living Conditions  
Places Louisville; Kentucky; Missouri; Philadelphia; Kentucky River
People Clark, William (1770-1838)  
Themes Warfare & Military History; Exploration, Expeditions & Travel
Library Missouri History Museum  
Copyright The Missouri History Museum